January 24, 2009

Sunday, 1/25

LAT 9:25
PI 8:21
NYT 8:12
CS 4:23

Michael Torch's New York Times crossword, "Fiddle Dee Dee," fiddles around with some phrases by replacing a double-T with a DD in eight theme entries:

  • [Dairy frivolity?] is UDDER NONSENSE.
  • [Creamy dessert atop a cracker, informally?] is PUDDIN' ON THE RITZ.
  • [Advice for golfers?] are CADDY REMARKS about which club to use.
  • [Measure of a reaction to horror?] is SHUDDER SPEED. I rather like this one.
  • [Guardians of a house painters' celebration?] are LADDER DAY SAINTS.
  • [Linens purchased through a Web site?] are ONLINE BEDDING.
  • [Why the eBay user was laid up] is a BIDDER COLD. This one is slightly less on-target than the others—"bitter cold" isn't something countable, like one biddder's head cold. But significantly, every theme entry simply replaces TT with DD, with no broader spelling changes entailed (e.g., if one of the pairs were BEDDER/BETTOR, there'd be a spelling change).
  • [Trendy lab hazards?] are FADDY ACIDS.
This puzzle's got some goodies in the fill, too:
  • PODCAST is a [Certain audio download].
  • BAD LOANS didn't used to feel quite so "in the language" as a discrete unit of meaning, but now? Oh, yeah. These [Default subjects] make the crossword grade.
  • OLD IRISH is the [Source of the word "clan"].
  • [Disposable bathroom item] is WAD OF T.P. No, actually, it's a DIXIE CUP.
  • [Sponges] clues TOSSPOTS, which is the sort of word we more often see as a clue for SOTS. I'm a little sad that [Sots] isn't our clue here.
A miscellany of other clues:
  • [Clarified, in England] is SPELT OUT, as in "that's zed as in 'zebra'." (And ZEDS are [Snore symbols in England].)
  • [Losing admiral in the Battle of the Falkland Islands, 1914] is Maximilian von SPEE. The ship called the Admiral Graf Spee is named after him. Who knew? Not I.
  • [Landlord's schedule] is RENT ROLL—not a familiar phrase for me.
  • I don't care for [Sushi supplier] cluing EELER. The eeler may provide eels to the sushi bar, but I rather doubt the eeler is doing the slicing and rolling that are involved in making sushi. This answer crosses CREELS, or [Anglers' baskets], for a fishing intersection.
  • [Home to Ohio Northern University] is ADA, and this is not one of the usual ADA clues. Other 3-letter bits from down below: [Clockmaker Terry] is ELI, and [Tape player spec: Abbr.] is IPS. Inches per second, I presume?
  • To [Support, as an embankment] is to REVET.
  • [Plain's opposite] is ORNATE. I like this.
  • Isn't the clue for HANNITY too broad? [Fox News opinionator]? I rarely watch the cable news channels owing to an aversion to opinionators.
  • [Home of Wheeler Army Airfield]...hmm, sounds plain. Probably sitting in the heartland somewhere, right? Nah, it's out in OAHU.
  • [Gardener's bagful] is neither SEEDS nor EARTH, but MULCH.
  • [Halfback option and Hail Mary] are football PLAYS.
  • [Some underwear] clues BOXERS. My little kid loves boxer shorts.
  • [Italian 100] is CENTO.

In Martin Ashwood-Smith's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge", he tests a new grid for triple-stacked entries—the top and bottom rows contain four 3's to bracket the trios of 15-letter answers. Now, the folks who just do the puzzle in their newspaper and get the CrosSynergy's team's product might remember ON HANDS AND KNEES from last Sunday's Paula Gamache puzzle. This time that [Crawling] takes on a more dissolute air, with DRINKS LIKE A FISH ([Has big belts?]) and RUSSIAN ROULETTE ([High-risk game]) enclosing it.

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "Grinning Periodically," pays tribute to Mad magazine with its [Coverguy since 1955], ALFRED E. NEUMAN, his catchphrase "WHAT, ME WORRY?," and a whopping 12 other theme entries with a hidden MAD (see the circles I've added to my answer grid) in each. In Across answers in the NW and SE corners as well as vertically at the right and left sides of the grid, Merl has stacked theme answers together. C'mon, nobody includes four pairs of stacked theme entries! Well, Merl does.

I had no idea that [The Society of Professional Journalists, formerly] was called SIGMA DELTA CHI. I did know, though, that an ARMADILLO is an [Animal that usually has quadruplets]. I thought the [Popular drugstore brand] IMODIUM A-D was pushing the "Sunday morning breakfast test," but it's got that MAD at the end providing cover.

John Lampkin's syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword is called "Off With Their Heads!" because each theme entry is a title with its head letter lopped off:
  • Kurt [Vonnegut book about a fun-loving frat clique?] is LAUGHTER HOUSE FIVE (the novel Slaughterhouse-Five).
  • John [Donne's geographical mistake?] is OMAN IS AN ISLAND (the poem "No Man Is an Island"). Geography humor!
  • [Rembrandt's "Leprechaun"?] is an ELF PORTRAIT (the painted Self-Portrait).
  • Erica [Jong's Dumbo biography?] is EAR OF FLYING (the novel Fear of Flying).
  • Margaret [Mitchell's hang-gliding memoir?] is ONE WITH THE WIND (the novel Gone With the Wind).
  • Frédéric [Chopin's homage to Darwin?] is EVOLUTIONARY ETUDE (the piano work The Revolutionary Étude).
  • [Disco film starring Zorro?] is LASHDANCE ('80s movie Flashdance).
  • Martin [Scorsese film about an over-the-hill financial optimist?] is AGING BULL (the film Raging Bull). This one was my favorite, probably because the first answer that came to mind was (G)OLDEN BEAR. Bears, bulls, whatever.