February 15, 2009

Monday, 2/16

BEQ 4:30
CS 3:03
Sun 2:47
LAT 2:47
NYT 2:45

(post updated Tuesday morning with BEQ)

David Kwong's New York Times crossword definitely passes the Monday morning breakfast test. The three wee commercial spokespeople/spokes-sounds for RICE KRISPIES are found at the beginning of three long answers:

  • SNAP DECISION is [What a person in an emergency might have to make].
  • CRACKLEWARE is [Some glazed pottery] that has a crackled finish.
  • POP MUSICIAN is clued as [Any of the Jonas Brothers, e.g.]. Is "pop musician" truly an in-the-language phrase?
The timeliest answer in the fill is that [Rare birth occurrence], an OCTUPLET. Although technically, you're not going to have that in the singular, are you? Here's an olio of other clues and answers:
  • [Zee : English :: ___ : Greek] clues the last letter of the Greek alphabet, OMEGA. I was tempted by ZETA but luckily it was one letter short.
  • ["Dies ___" (Latin hymn)] clues IRAE. If you're new to the crossword, make a mental note of this one because it shows up a lot.
  • [Benedict XVI, e.g.] is the PONTIFF, or pope. Now I'm wishing we'd have one of those year-of-the-pope clues for a Roman numeral using this guy. MMV, MMVI, MMVII, MMVIII, MMIX—they're all fair game. Speaking of ROMAN, that's clued as [Like Jupiter, but not Zeus].
  • [Poetic da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, e.g.] is METER.
  • LINDA is clued as [The former Mrs. McCartney], but she died, she didn't divorce him. I'm not sure "former wife" is the term used for someone who's passed away.
  • LOGES are [Pricey seating areas] at the opera or something. If you've never heard of a loge, you are probably in good company—and you should make a note of the word because it pops up now and again in puzzles.
  • AGASP is one of those mostly-in-crosswords words formed by adding an A to the beginning of another word. It means gasping or [Showing shock].
  • [Double-decker checker] is a KING in the game of checkers. Am I the only one whose thoughts turned to double-decker London buses and Checker cabs?
Peter Gordon marks Presidents Day/observed Washington's birthday with a 15x16 Sun crossword called "All the Presidents' Best Actors and Actresses." I was only faintly aware while I was doing the puzzle that its theme entries weren't occupying a symmetrical grid. The five theme answers are people who won Oscars for their lead roles and who share last names with past U.S. presidents—DENZEL WASHINGTON (president #1), GLENDA JACKSON (#7), REX HARRISON (#9), ELIZABETH TAYLOR (#12), and HELEN HAYES (#19). Good thing Ronald Reagan wasn't a very good actor—he would have mucked up this theme. This crossword's got 13 non-theme answers that are 7 to 10 letters long, too, so there are plenty of goodies in here.

I can't believe there are only nine more of these Sun puzzles. Sigh...


An hour ago, around 9:35 a.m., the Obamas flew past me in Marine One, en route from the South Side to O'Hare. The newspaper said they were leaving at 10 a.m. on Air Force One. Man, I wish I could leave this neighborhood 25 minutes before departure time and not miss my flight.

The LA Times crossword by Holly Barnes is either a debut for this constructor or the dawning of a new Rich Norris pseudonym. I'm leaning towards the latter because the light Monday theme—J.J. phrases—is accompanied by some fairly wide-open corners packed with 6- to 8-letter fill. The theme entries are:
  • JAVA JIVE, the [Jazzy 1940 standard that begins "I love coffee"].
  • JUMPING JACK, a [Conditioning exercise]. Just do the one jumping jack if you're not looking to get in good shape.
  • JUNK JEWELRY consists of [Cheap earrings, etc.].
  • JUMBO JET is a [747, e.g.]. Hey, did you know that Air Force One is a 747? I should've stood outside at 10:10 or so to watch for it heading east from O'Hare.
Highlights in the fill, intermixed with crosswordese you should know:
  • BARI is an [Adriatic seaport] in Italy.
  • Scottish fill includes SMA, [Like a wee bairn], meaning "small" in Scottish dialect, and the [Scottish landowners] called LAIRDS. More common than either of those is Scottish "no/not" or NAE (which is nae in this puzzle).
  • [Hersey's "A Bell for ___"] ADANO shows up in a lot of crosswords. Memorize that one.
  • MONTANA is the [Fourth-largest state]. In the recent online Jeopardy! test, I flubbed the question about the third-largest state by answering Montana.
  • [Bambi's aunt] is named ENA. Memorize this one, too.
  • CALAMARI is [Ristorante squid] and [Made in the States] means AMERICAN. See how nicely those two answers fit beside each other? They both alternate consonants and vowels but in the opposite way.
  • AL JOLSON was ["The Jazz Singer" singer].
  • [Hawaiian volcano] MAUNA LOA doesn't get its whole name in the crossword often. Usually it's the fill-in-the-blank [Mauna ___] for either LOA or KEA.
  • [Jade and quartz, e.g.] are MINERALS.
  • BY CAB is [One way to get to the airport], and the way I usually use. Man, I wish I could take a private helicopter there.
I downloaded a themed CrosSynergy crossword for the first time in weeks this morning, and the Patrick Blindauer byline compelled me to solve it. It's a reworking of a chunk-of-letters-progress-through-longer-words theme that Patrick's done before. This time, "A Moving Experience" has a moving VAN (70-Across) inching from the beginning of a word to the end of the fifth theme entry:

VANILLA is a [Common cake ingredient].
IVANHOE is a [Sir Walter Scott novel].
SAVANNA is a [Treeless plain].
NIRVANA is [Absolute bliss] and the classic grunge band.
DONOVAN is the [Scottish "Sunshine Superman" singer], father of actress Ione Skye.

The familiarity of those things called moving vans elevates this above a random trigram moving through the theme entries. I think Patrick's previous iteration had ANTs on the march. In the fill, we have TEEN ANGST, the [Feeling of dread felt by young adults] that debuted as an NYT crossword answer in a 2006 puzzle by Tyler Hinman, who was barely out of his teens when he'd made that puzzle. So I have fond associations for crossword TEEN ANGST. [Northwest and Southwest, e.g.] clues AIRLINES. The [World's highest large lake] has caused many a Trivial Pursuit player to giggle over the years; it's Lake TITICACA at the Bolivia/Peru border. A [Statehouse official (abbr.)] is the LT. GOV., and I have no idea who Illinois's lite-gov is now that Patrick Quinn has moved up to replace Blagojevich.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Brendan Emmett Quigley's crossword, "Me and My Shadow," is about those [Classic "shadow government"]s that conspiracy theorists believe are pulling the strings. (BEQ does not seem to share the belief.) The theme entries are NEW WORLD ORDER and THE ILLUMINATI, which I've heard of, and the BILDERBERG GROUP, which I have not. Highlights in the fill include the OCTOMOM ([Nadya Suleman, in headlines])—a word that likely had not entered the lexicon until the last three weeks, and certainly has not appeared in a crossword before. And there are FATWAS ([Mullahs' calls]), SECOND-BEST ([Nearly optimal]), LIBRETTO clued as [Tosca's story?], and bouncy POGO STICKS ([They go up and down]).