February 22, 2009

Monday, 2/23

BEQ 5:15
Sun 2:51
LAT 2:50
NYT 2:27

(post updated Tuesday morning at 9:15.)

Just five more Sun puzzles left. (Sigh.)

Just five more days left 'til the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament! (I have to date had exactly one day of ACPT-centered practicing. That day was yesterday.)

Just one second ahead of Doug Peterson (deadbydawn) on the NYT applet...and I would've been in first place but for the interruption of one paulatc. Given that there's nobody named Paul who has been rivaling Tyler Hinman and given some patently unrealistic applet times, I am prone to think that this paulatc is one of those people who solve the puzzle in Across Lite and then enter their solution in the applet—but use the "play against the clock" option rather than the "check my solution" one. If you are paulatc and that's what you're doing, sheesh, wouldja knock it off already? It's bothersome. If you are legitimately super-fast, then head to the ACPT and test your mettle under tournament conditions. Please and thank you. (There. I feel better getting that off my chest.)

Alan Arbesfeld's New York Times crossword features a vowel-progression theme, with vowel changing in the B*ND word/syllable at the end of each long answer:

  • RUBBERBAND is a [Stretchable holder].
  • AROUND THE BEND means [Loony].
  • THE TIES THAT BIND are [Strong family connections, idiomatically].
  • MUNICIPAL BOND is a [Tax-free investment].
  • CUMMERBUND is a [Tux go-with].
You know what's really cool? The B*ND words may all be etymologically related. Or at least some meanings of bend (a href="http://www.answers.com/bend">scroll down to word 2) relate to band, and binding and bonding tie into that as well, and the end of cummerbund means "band," too. Usually a vowel-progression theme has completely unrelated words.

What did I like aside from the etymological elegance of the theme? This:
  • WEBMASTER is an [Internet guru], generally the TECH (25-Down) whiz who is responsible for keeping a particular website purring smoothly.
  • HIRED GUNS are [Armed thugs] or hitmen, which is not to say a HITTER in baseball, as in [One getting a single or a double, e.g.], which is not talking about single or double scoops of ice cream, one brand of which is EDY'S, an [Alternative to Haagen-Dazs].
  • SLAP and SNAP and SNIP pop. The first is clued as [Part of a Three Stooges routine]. The second, a [Sound heard with the phrase "Just like that!"]. The third, a [Paper doll-making sound].
  • [Hoverers over sports stadiums] are not domes, hummingbirds, or UFOs. Nope, they're BLIMPS. Blimps were terribly exotic sights when I was a kid, but now that I live near Wrigley Field, blimps waft overhead periodically.

Michael Williams' Sun crossword, "Pinstripers in the Hall," has a New York Yankees theme. Aw, I thought the Sun puzzle ceasing its run before the baseball season began meant no more baseball themes. This one appears to be nicknames of Yankees who are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, each clued with [Bronx Bomber in Cooperstown]. JOLTIN' JOE DiMaggio, some OLD PROFESSOR whose nickname I have never heard (Google tells me it's Casey Stengel's nickname), THE SULTAN OF SWAT (a.k.a. Babe Ruth), Lou Gehrig THE IRON HORSE, and Reggie "MR. OCTOBER" Jackson. Let's see...how many notable old Cubs or White Sox nicknames can I think of? There's Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks...and that's all that comes to mind.

Brendan Emmett Quigley's puzzle, "Blank Expressions," asks us to fill in the blanks, and punctuation is the key to understand the context of these clues without any letters.
  • 1A. [ ___ ] gets square brackets, I'm not sure why, to clue MEH. Why not just a plain blank space?
  • 18A. The halting "___...?" can be filled in with "YOU CAN'T MEAN...?" I think "You don't mean...?" would work better.
  • 35A. One "___!" exclamation is JEEPERS CREEPERS. Yeah, I'll bet Brendan says that one a lot.
  • 54A. The overexcited MySpace type who overuses exclamation marks but sometimes gets sloppy with the shift key gets "___1111!11!1!!1" This is completed with OMGROTFLMAO, or "omigod, rolling on the floor laughing my ass off," which in the history of the internet may well never have been typed by anyone who actually fell to the floor laughing.
  • 64A. A common parenthetical remark, ( ___ ), is SIC.
Technically, there is no such thing as a BICEP, the singular muscle being the biceps, but it's in the same common parlance that brings us MEH and OMGROTFLMAO. I didn't recall any Ritchie COOTE, a Beater on Harry Potter's Quidditch team, but the crossings were easy enough.

Updated Tuesday morning:

D'oh! I forgot to check back for the LA Times puzzle, which hadn't been posted to Cruciverb in the morning. Mike Peluso's theme has some stuff I just plain don't understand. The theme appears to be compound words or phrases in which the first part is a first name, and a famous person with that name is in the clue:
  • [Actress Ringwald makes her escape?] clues MOLLY BOLTS. Am I supposed to know what molly bolts are? Apparently you can use them to fasten something to drywall. Not remotely a familiar term to me.
  • [Actress Brice prepares for a trip?] is FANNY PACKS. I know the Brits, South Africans, and probably Australians snicker when the Americans use the word "fanny."
  • [Ebsen ushers at the theater?] clues BUDDY SEATS. Hey, Ebsen lost his "Actor" tag in the clue. Three "Actress so-and-so" and he's so famous he doesn't need identification? Consistency is a good thing in crossword themes. I have no idea what buddy seats are. Back to the Google: They're for motorcycles.
  • [Actress Hunter visits a pawn shop?] clues HOLLY HOCKS. Hollyhocks are tall and a little wild-looking as flowers go.