January 26, 2009

Tuesday, 1/27

Jonesin' 4:50
Sun 3:40
LAT 3:03
NYT 2:45

(post updated at 9:15 Tuesday morning)

I think the Tuesday New York Times crossword by Jim Hyres was a little easier than yesterday's puzzle. (I had a typo, so my time should've been 10 or 15 seconds faster.) The theme entries all end with homophones:

  • MILLE BORNES is a [Game with "Out of Gas" cards].
  • JASON BOURNE is a [Robert Ludlum protagonist] and a ROLE (55-Down) for Matt Damon.
  • The FIRST-BORN is [Heir to a throne, typically]. Poor Prince Charles. He's been next in line his whole life, but now he's nearing standard retirement age and he still hasn't gotten that promotion to King. If he ever makes it, he won't get to be king for all that long.
  • WIND-BORNE is clued as [Like the dust in a dust storm]. Raise your hand if you ignored the phonic aspect of the theme and went with WIND-BLOWN first.
Assorted other clues and answers in this puzzle: [Cop's cruiser] is a PROWL CAR. Squad car and patrol car are more familiar terms to me. [High-voltage weapon] clues AIR TASER, but I have never heard the term with "air" included. I, ROBOT is a [Classic Isaac Asimov short-story collection]. BENIN is the [Nation once known as Dahomey]. If you like African geography, try this map quiz. [Exert one's superiority] is PULL RANK. [Vigorous feelings] is a strange clue for ENERGIES. I'll bet PONZI [___ scheme (investment scam)] is far more familiar to crossword solvers in the wake of the Madoff debacle.

Peter Gordon/Ogden Porter's 15x16 Sun crossword, "Hitchcock Double Features," includes four mash-ups of Hitchcock movie titles that can be clued plausibly as made-up phrases. 10-Down was my favorite of the four. The clue [Subvert hawks and doves?] made me think of metaphorically pro- and anti-war groups, but the answer is more avian-minded: SABOTAGE THE BIRDS. Holy crow, The Birds freaked me out when I saw it late at night by myself when I was about 18. Birds have beaks or [Bills, e.g.], but that clue is for an NFL TEAM. [Thing that gets socked?] is a FOOT; the official socks of this blog are Smartwool.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "Just Add Vodka," creates its theme entries by adding vodka to something in the base phrases and thereby mixing a cocktail. This is one of those puzzles with a slightly delayed "aha" moment, where I had the whole thing done but didn't understand the theme yet. I don't understand all of the theme entries, so I need to Google up some info. What's a Greyhound? It's grapefruit juice and vodka. So:
  • [Racing dog attempts to sleep really close?] is GREYHOUND SPOONS, with vodka added to the phrase "grapefruit spoons." I do not own such a utensil (though there was one in the house when I was a kid), and I loathe grapefruit.
  • CAPE CODDER BOGS gets a [Maine resident's swamps?] clue. Cranberry bogs, and cranberry juice + vodka = Cape Codder. But...Matt, isn't Cape Cod in Massachusetts rather than Maine? 
  • [Servant's complaint about serving a British queen one course of a meal?] is BLOODY MARY SOUP, a Bloody Mary being tomato juice + vodka. And yes, I've noticed that all these theme entries chuck the word "juice" completely. This theme entry threw me a bit because there was a queen called Bloody Mary, so the servant might whinge about "bloody Bloody Mary."
  • The Orange Bowl in college football adds vodka to become the SCREWDRIVER BOWL, a [Lazy place to store your tools in the kitchen?].
In the non-thematic fill, there are some cool answers. DARA TORRES was a [Swimmer in the 1984 and 2008 Olympic Games]; she won a silver medal last summer at about age 40. TUNA HELPER is a [Dinner mix with a glove on the box]. Cute little cartoony glove with a face on its palm, too. [It's promoted as infallible truth] clues THE GOSPEL, and I like the clue's vague suggestion that there's a marketing or P.R. team working on that account. GOOD LOOKS are [What vain people think may get them far in life].


The theme answers in today's LA Times crossword begin with FEE, FI, FO, and FUM, all tied together by the GIANT (67-Across) who is the [Fairy tale bellower of the starts of 20-, 31-, 42-, and 53-Across]:
  • FEELING ALIVE is [Getting a buzz from being].
  • FINAL STRAW is a [Metaphorical backbreaker]. I wish this were FINAL EXAMS or FIRE ENGINE or FINE DINING, because "last straw" is better than "final straw." Yes, people use "final straw," but "last straw" has more dictionary grounding.
  • FOCAL POINT is the [Center of attention].
  • FUMBLE AROUND means to [Grope, as for a light switch].
I thought I'd seen this theme concept before, so I Googled it—there were two FEE FI FO FUM rebus puzzles in 2006, from Levi Denham and Nancy Salomon (NYT) and Edgar Fontaine (Sun).

Miscellaneous clues and answers:
  • ENATE means [Related maternally]. Your paternal relatives are the agnate ones.
  • ILONA [Massey of old movies] has one of those names kept alive primarily in crosswords.
  • The Kennedy clan clues BRO and SIS: [Ted, to Eunice] and [Eunice, to Ted]. Do kids these days know Eunice's name?
  • [Conductor Klemperer] is one of a handful of OTTO clues you'll see periodically. I prefer the drawn OTTOs, like the comic strip dog and the stoned school-bus driver on The Simpsons.
  • When the clue is [Evaporating sea] or [Shrinking sea], the answer is the ARAL Sea. Not to be confused with URAL, the name of a Russian river and the mountain range that divides Europe from Asia.
  • [Three-time Wimbledon singles champ Maria] BUENO is not a familiar name. She played doubles with Althea Gibson in 1958.
  • ADLAI E. Stevenson was a [Two-time loser to Ike], as in Dwight Eisenhower.
  • [Bert Bobbsey's twin] is NAN. The Bobbsey Twins book series ran from 1904 to 1979. I don't think I ever read one.