January 11, 2009

Monday, 1/12

BEQ 4:43
Sun 3:11
NYT 3:05
LAT 2:55

(updated 6:45 p.m. Monday)

Lynn Lempel's New York Times crossword exhorts us to CUT THAT OUT—"that" being any of the other four theme entries. A [Square for a bedcover] that you might cut out is a QUILT PIECE. A [Figure fashioned from dough] is a COOKIE SHAPE, which rings hollow to me because you use a cookie cutter to cut out cookies, not "cookie shapes." You cut out [Clothing with tabs] so you can put a PAPER DOLL OUTFIT on your paper doll. And you clip a STORE COUPON, which is a [Retailer's enticement].

This puzzle skewed a little more Tuesday or Wednesday to me. Here are some answers that seemed a notch beyond Monday level:

  • A certain [Early Mexican] is an OLMEC. These folks came way before the Mayans, who in turn preceded the Aztecs.
  • [Met singer Pinza]'s first name is EZIO. If you're new to crosswords, remember this opera man's name—he shows up in crosswords periodically.
  • [Lerner's "Camelot" partner] was Frederick LOEWE. The name's German for "lion," but that doesn't help you remember how to spell it.
  • SMOKED EEL is a [Sushi bar delicacy].
Why is an ART STUDIO a [Place to make a scene?]? Is it a still-life scene to be painted? The clue feels like it's pushing a little far to me.

After I finished Patrick Blindauer and Tony Orbach's Sun crossword, "Skip It," I didn't know what the theme was. Looking at the title and the theme entries, I had noted that PERIOD PIECES could relate to "skipping" in that one might skip her period. Alas, nobody skips air (AIR COMPRESSOR) if they want to stay alive, so I knew that wasn't it. The [Skipped thing] at 63-Across soon revealed itself to be a ROPE, and eventually I saw that word spelled out by skipping letters in the theme entries (see the letters I've circled in the answer grid). Aha! Weird inspiration for a theme, but then we don't expect blah normalcy from Patrick and Tony. Hooray for '80s cheese band REO SPEEDWAGON making the grade as a theme entry! I will spare you an REO Speedwagon video, though—here's Lisa Loeb covering "Keep on Loving You."

There are some weird clues in here. ABBA is clued as the [Redondilla rhyme scheme] and an OBOE is a [Wind often made from granadilla wood]. What on earth are redondilla and granadilla doing in a Monday puzzle? TREE gets a tough clue (well, tough if you haven't seen the movie lately) too—[Apple thrower in "The Wizard of Oz"].


In his post accompanying today's crossword, Brendan Emmet Quigley tells us of his fondness for jazz, which is the topic of "Jazz It Up." Each of the five theme entries makes a pun with a jazz legend's last name (or, in the case of RUNAWAY TRANE, a shortened form thereof). I liked [Pianist Chick from the Arctic Circle?] best—he's NORTH COREA. Today's Sun crossword had HORN OF PLENTY in it, and BEQ has HORNE OF PLENTY, or [Ample singer Lena?]. Q-TIP is clued as [A Tribe Called Quest rapper], which was a gimme for me even though I don't follow rap because I'd just read a blog post about Q-Tip's incensed blog commenting. BEQ has plenty of names in this puzzle—I didn't know former Celtics head coach M.L. CARR at all, but BONO, M.I.A., the HOFF, Harold RAMIS, Marvelous Marvin HAGLER, KARL Malone, Tom PETTY, YVES Rocher, and MAO Tse-tung were easier to get; Emeka OKAFOR took a little more work. Include the five jazz names from the theme and the breakdown is: music, 8; sports, 4, movies, 2; business, 1; hygiene-averse despots, 1.

The Across Lite version of the LA Times puzzle isn't posted at Cruciverb.com yet. Will check back this afternoon.

Updated again:

Opposites attract in Nancy Salomon's LA Times crossword:
  • [Source of investor angst] is an UP-AND-DOWN MARKET. I haven't heard that phrase before, but my sweetie works for the NYSE and he's heard it.
  • [Hardly everlasting love] is an ON-AND-OFF ROMANCE. Also not a familiar phrase for me.
  • [Prosecutor's piece of cake] is an OPEN-AND-SHUT CASE, which is 100% "in the language."
I can't post a solution grid now but hope to restore that functionality in time for the Tuesday post.