April 26, 2009

Monday, 4/27

CS 2:59
NYT 2:43
LAT 2:40
BEQ tba

Whew! Long day. Loud day. We took the kid to see the new Harry Potter exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry this afternoon. (Who knew museums could be so noisy?) And then this evening we had Ben's birthday at Pump It Up—16 kids bouncing around, clambering a rock-climbing wall, and getting jacked up on sugar. (Also noisy.) At last, quiet time and crosswords.

Joe Krozel's New York Times crossword

Now, Barry Silk was just remarking the other day that he'd asked Will Shortz about running a crossword tribute to the World Series champion Phillies, but Will "said that puzzles must have a 'shelf life' of at least 5 years." I don't know that JOE THE PLUMBER, a [2008 campaign personality], fills that bill. Frankly, that feels like a dated reference already—I would have liked that theme answer better last December.

The other theme entries—name + occupation—are DORA THE EXPLORER, the [Animated TV character whose best friend is Boots], and ROSIE THE RIVETER, [Norman Rockwell painting subject of W.W. II]. These two are rock-solid, more enduring than Joe the Plumber/Journalist's moment in the sun. Answers I liked:

  • LOCK IN means to [Fix permanently, as an interest rate].
  • HUSH-HUSH is [Top-secret].
  • UP NEXT is clued [Coming immediately after, as on TV]. UP comes back in CHIN UP, or ["Don't let it get you down!"].
  • [Something for nothing, as what a hitchhiker seeks] is a FREE RIDE.
  • [Like the Beatles' White Album] means UNTITLED.
  • Good clue for SEX: [It sells in advertising, they say].
  • It felt like there were a lot of 3-letter answers of the clunky variety—suffixes (IDE, ORY, ADE), fragments (A LA, TSE, IWO), abbreviations (ETD, SEC, MPH, ESE), foreign vocabulary (ILE, UNA).
  • SAY NO is crossed by MAYBE, which has "no" in its clue ([Answer that's between yes and no]), as does DENY ([Say "No, I didn't"]).
  • Five-letter Roman numeral? Ouch. At least MCDVI is given an utterly straightforward clue: [The year 1406].
  • Crosswordese alert for newbies! [Fancy pitcher] means EWER, the [Main port of Yemen] is ADEN, and the EPEE is a [Sword of sport], the sport being fencing.
Pancho Harrison's L.A. Times crossword

Pancho's theme is phrases that sound like they're violent but aren't—except for that one that still is:
  • [One who's at home on the range] is a COWPUNCHER, which is slang for cowboy. I don't think punching of bovines is involved.
  • LIP-SMACKER is a [Noisy eater]. No slapping here.
  • [Oater villain who attacks from hiding] is a BUSHWHACKER, and he will ambush you.
  • A [Girl idolizing a pop star, perhaps] is a TEENYBOPPER. No bopping on the head intended.
If things don't turn out well for that BUSHWHACKER, he might end up in BOOT HILL, the [Gunfighters' graveyard]. The crossword answer ON RYE shows up not infrequently; this time we get RYE BREAD, clued with [Corned beef is usually ordered on it]. [Andre the Giant, e.g.] was an actor in The Princess Bride after being a professional WRESTLER. [Fozzie Bear, e.g.] is a MUPPET from The Muppet Show.

Updated on a busy Monday morning:

Depending on when Brendan Quigley's blog crossword is posted, I may or may not have time to review it today. But don't let that stop you from talking about it in the comments.

Lynn Lempel's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Blockheads"

This is one of those Monday puzzles that one might plow through without needing to understand the theme—and in fact, I finished it before beginning to ponder how "Blockheads" related to the theme answers. The first word in each of five theme entries can precede the word block:
  • [Idaho resort area] is SUN VALLEY—sunblock.
  • ROAD RAGE is a [Driver's furious fit]—roadblock.
  • [Cy Young Award winner, typically] is a STARTING PITCHER—the starting blocks for a foot race.
  • [It's tough to fight, proverbially] clues CITY HALL. Great clue. In Chicago, 1/8 mile = one city block.
  • [Intelligence test finding] is MENTAL AGE. You ever get a mental block when doing a crossword? Oh, yeah.
The two 10-letter Down answers are unrelated to the theme. A RAT-CATCHER is a [Certain pest control worker], but "rat block" isn't a thing. Neither is "near block," so NEAR AT HAND, or [Close by], is also not a theme answer.