December 23, 2008

Wednesday, 12/24

Sun 15:19
Onion 13:44
Tausig 8:01
LAT 7:46
NYT 7:27
CS 6:20

(Updated at 11:00am Wednesday)

Hey, everyone. PuzzleGirl here. Is Orange back yet? What? It's only Wednesday? I mean, I'm having a blast and everything but this pace is grueling. I do most of the puzzles Orange does on a regular basis, but I don't typically do them right away. Let's just say I have several Saturday Stumpers still hanging around just waiting for the magic to set in. I'm hopeful. I guess I'm actually more worried about you guys not hanging around when you come here and find out it's just me. I know you're used to enlightening and engaging commentary on the art of cruciverbalism. And when I'm here you get the ramblings of a middle-aged stay-at-home mom who doesn't have a lot of recent experience with intelligent, grown-up conversation. I'm going to assume that you're toughing it out with me. As a favor to Orange? Kthxby.

Today's New York Times crossword by Warren Biro isn't likely to stir up the same type of emotion and ... enthusiasm we saw yesterday, but it's a good solid puzzle. Nothing too flashy, but nothing to get heartburn over either. Theme answers are all synonyms for [Power connectors] or PLUGS:

  • [Show interrupter] = TV ADVERTISEMENT
  • [Copenhagen wad] = TOBACCO CHEW
  • [Old-fashioned tub feature] = BATH STOPPER
  • [Expensive alternative to a toupee] = HAIR REPLACEMENT
AVATARS, BLASE, TAPAS, PERSONAE, and APEMEN spice things up a little. And how awesome is it that the tallest building in North Dakota has only 19 floors? That would be the state capital building, by the way. As some of you know, I grew up in North Dakota. I used to have a postcard of the Fargo "skyline" that showed, basically, one building. I think the postcard was created with serious intent, but it turned out to be pretty funny. Oh, do you want to know what we called that building? "The High-Rise." Seriously.

Today's Sun crossword by Doug Peterson, "Cold Storage," adds the letters BR to familiar phrases to create new phrases. Heartsease, which I recently — and I mean very recently — learned is a common European wildflower, becomes HEARTS BREEZE clued [Simple task for a ticker?]. The three other theme answers are:
  • [Bout of self-flagellation?] = BRAWL FOR ONE (all for one)
  • [High-fiber ballpark food item?] = BRAN FRANK (Anne Frank)
  • [Raised writing on a largemouth?] = BASS BRAILLE (Bass Ale)
  • [Subtitle for a "Girls Gone Wild" video?] = BREWS AND BRAS (oohs and aahs)
In addition:
  • Didn't see Marisa TOMEI in "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," but she was fabulous in "In the Bedroom," an intense film based on the intense short story by Andre Dubus.
  • I assume the the YIDDISH-tongued Singer referred to here is Polish-born American author Isaac Bashevis Singer, although there are likely a few other Singers around who speak Yiddish.
  • The only thing I know about "The Matrix" is that Keanu Reeves's character's name is NEO. And Laurence Fishburn plays ... God? I don't know. It's hard to remember.
  • Omar SHARIF played Che Guevara in the 1969 film "Che!" My fake boyfriend Benicio del Toro will play him in the upcoming Steven Soderbergh production, which apparently won't be as exciting. The title is just "Che." No exclamation mark.
  • I've heard of Bill Nye the Science Guy, but not Sid the Science Kid. Well, no wonder! The show just debuted in September of this year on PBS.
  • Snoopy did, indeed, often drive a ZAMBONI. It seems like there should be something really obvious I could say here that would be funny, but ... I got nothin'. Crosscan?
  • "Stoned Soul Picnic" was a hit by the fabulous Fifth Dimension, written by Laura NYRO. She also wrote "Eli's Coming," which I almost talked about yesterday when I saw Three Dog Night mentioned in one of the puzzles.
  • Math game with matchsticks! I know this one!!!
Finally, Doug, if you're reading, I would just like to express my appreciation for not having to see the phrase "baby bump" in this puzzle. Sincerely. Thank you.

The theme of this week's Onion A.V. Club puzzle by Tyler Hinman is a little unclear. It's about dictators and corrupt politicians leaving office and getting into legal trouble. But then it's also got a bunch of farewell-type words directed at President Bush. Not sure I get the connection. At least not out here on the Internet where the Google Machine can find me! Ha!

As expected, there's all kinds of funky fill in this puzzle. An air of RACINESS in some of the clue/answer combos, like BANG for [Get with, so to speak] and ["Thong Song" singer] SISQO. Some crumbs for the pop culture fans including Will Smith's wife, JADA Pinkett; astrologer to the rich and famous, Sydney OMARR; and NOAH Baumbach, who's married to Jennifer Jason Leigh and has written an adaption of Curtis Sittenfeld's novel Prep. (Sort of an I Am Charlotte Simmons Lite.) Should be good.

The best word I've seen in a puzzle all week? No contest. AKIMBO.

Another new experience for me today was solving Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword for the first time. And I must say I'm shocked — shocked — by some of the things I saw here! Bad language, drug references ... I mean, I think they're drug references, I wouldn't actually know. (Hi, Mom!)

The theme answers contain synonyms for, um, rear-end spelled from right to left. That is, ASS BACKWARDS. So prat is hidden in GUITAR PICK (by the way, plectrum?), can is hidden in DANA CARVEY, and butt can be found in TEST-TUBE BABY. Tons of pop culture references including several hip-hop/rap artists: Sean COMBS, BIZ Markie, and Young JEEZY. This puzzle was a blast and I will definitely add it to my schedule in the future. In fact, I probably won't do any future Ink Well puzzles until I've done every single one from January 2008 forward. (I like to be ... thorough.) You know what impressed me the most about this puzzle though? I love the extreme boldness of putting both UMA Thurman and UTA Hagen in one puzzle. Love it!


Kids are off school today and I have a few things to do yet today, so this will be quick. If I miss something that you're just dying to talk about, please have at it in the comments! Gene Newman's LA Times puzzle hides a FRUIT in each theme answer.
  • [Aircraft navigation system] = RADIO RANGE
  • [O'Hara novel, with "A"] = RAGE TO LIVE
  • [Construction site debris] = SCRAP LUMBER
  • [Everybody, in Paris] = TOUT LE MONDE
The clue [Fed] doesn't refer to food today, but to a government worker, or G-MAN. And [Fraser or Douglas] doesn't refer to people but to FIR trees. Anyone else originally have moats for [Ancient city protectors] instead of WALLS? I guess I had never thought of a NERD as particularly obsessive, although now that I think about it, it makes pretty good sense. It will be a happy, happy day in PuzzleGirl's world when GABLE is clued not with reference to Clark, but to "Iowa wrestling legend Dan."

Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily's CrosSynergy crossword describes a few things people do to get ready for Christmas. They DECORATE THE TREE, HANG UP STOCKINGS, LEAVE SANTA A NOTE and, finally, OPEN THE PRESENTS. Do you guys open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Those of you that celebrate Christmas, that is. We open everything Christmas Eve and then the kids have their "Santa" presents in the morning. I don't know how it is at your house, but the PuzzleKids have been lobbying hard for early opening. I have a feeling this is going to be a looooong day.

I'm going to go ahead and wrap this up with two quick clips for you. First, for you young'uns out there who don't remember MIKEY, here he is. And I'll leave you with a Christmas medley from SONNY and Cher. I'll even throw in Bernadette Peters and Captain Kangaroo for free. Random!

Enjoy your Christmas Eve and I'll see you back here tomorrow. You'll all be here tomorrow, right? I'm sure you don't have anything else planned....