May 25, 2009

Tuesday, 5/26

Jonesin' 4:01
LAT 3:18
NYT 2:40
CS 6:46 (J—paper)

Mike Nothnagel's New York Times crossword

Most of Mike's puzzles are themeless, so it's a bit of a departure for him to show up on Tuesday. But the six-part theme's augmented by Nothnagelian fill, in addition to being a flawless theme. The theme entries are:

  • 1A's clue is [With 67-Across, an appropriate title for this puzzle?]. 1A and 67A are SWAP / MEET.
  • 17A. [Where to learn a vocation] is TRADE SCHOOL. "Trade" means "swap."
  • 28A. The [Basis for a moneyless economy] is the BARTER SYSTEM, with "barter" joining the SWAP MEET.
  • 44A. [Two dollars per pound, say] sounds like a unit price, but it's a currency EXCHANGE RATE.
  • 58A. ["On/off" surrounder] is a light SWITCH PLATE. So that's the fourth of the two-word phrases beginning with "swap" synonyms.

Highlights in the fill, quickly: NANCY DREW's the [Character who first appeared in "The Secret of the Old Clock"]. DOT MATRIX is an [Early printer type]. [Annotates, as a manuscript] clues MARKS UP. K-PAX! That's the [Title planet in a 2001 Kevin Spacey movie]. Tony DANZA is the ["Who's the Boss?" co-star] who, by the way, looks like he could be Rahm Emanuel's brother. Crosswordese name NYE graduates to full-name BILL NYE, [TV's Science Guy]. And a TWINGE is a [Sudden, sharp pain]. Plus we have colloquial language like "GOT ME" and "I KNOW" ("IT IS I" is a lesser caliber of fill). Seeing EGEST in the grid just now made me imagine it as an E-word: E-GEST, a notable adventure or exploit on the Internet.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Donna S. Levin's CrosSynergy puzzle "Going Once, Going Twice,..."—Janie's review

For the second Tuesday in a row we have a CrosSynergy constructor debut. A hearty welcome to Donna, yet another skillful, clever, well-published constructor, whose puzzles have been seen extensively as part of the Creators Syndicate (Newsday), the L. A. Times, the Sun, and more recently in the NYT. Her inaugural summons up the auction block. Live auction, not this kind... Each theme phrase ends with a word related to auctions and the first three of them are appearing for the first time in a CS puzzle; the last is making its major-puzzle debut. Whaddo-I-hear, whaddo-I-hear, whaddo-I-hear for:
  • 20A: [Machinist's tool] BALLPEEN HAMMER. Items, that are being auctioned—like, oh, Queen Victoria's brooch, for example—are said to be going "under the hammer."
  • 30A: [Stephen King novel] SALEM'S LOT. Each item being auctioned (or collection of items) belongs to a LOT.
  • 43A:[Simple swimming stroke] DOG PADDLE. Raise your PADDLE and you've expressed yourself. In other words, the PADDLE is used for visibility when
  • BIDDING—53A:[Performed as ordered] DID ONE'S BIDDING. I kinda wish this could have changed places with our friend the HAMMER, so that we'd opened with the BIDDING and ended when the HAMMER came down, but sometimes these things just can't happen. No one dies.

And the beauty parts of the grid-as-is are many:
  • First, there's that NW corner where IRAN and ARAB cross, and (while we're in that neck o' the woods) where we're reminded of stories from both The Old Testament (that golden CALF in Exodus) and The New Testament (the MAGI, who appear in Matthew). Working off of the final "I" in MAGI is INFLAME at 4D, which is a CS first.
  • So, too is BAD PRESS at 5D. What a great phrase to have in a puzzle with CELEB (nicely clued as [Fodder for the tabs]). Most folks say, however, that there's no such thing as [Unwanted ink]. Hmmm. I wonder what Ms. Hilton or Ms. Lohan or Ms. Speers (either one actually) or any one of a number of folks in the spotlight/hot seat would have to say about that.
  • Then, at 10D, we get AUDEN, whose poem "Funeral Blues" (a/k/a "Stop All the Clocks") is capable of summoning up buckets of real (not crocodile) TEARS, and expresses the feelings of a WRETCH, not only [A pathetic one], but here, a person "in deep distress or misfortune."

Some clue-cogitatin':
  • [Destroy] at 58A first had me entering RUIN for DO IN.
  • Then, at the risk of being called a hair-splitter... [Mona Lisa's portraitist] at 45D is LEONARDO. His hometown, on the other hand, is DA VINCI.
  • And at 61A, do I LOVE [Articles in "Paris Match"?] for LES (as in more than one "le" [or that's how I read it anyway...])? A resounding "mais oui!"

Clocking in at 7:30 (they ain't called INXS fer nuthin'!), here's a link to signature song "Need You Tonight" as the band performed it at Wembley Stadium in the early '90s.

All in all, one PRIMO premiere—and (fair warning) I am going, going,...

Fred Jackson III's Los Angeles Times crossword

The theme here is old musicals whose titles end with women's names:
  • 18A. KISS ME KATE is the [1948 Porter musical inspired by "The Taming of the Shrew"].
  • 26A. [1925 musical that spawned the unsuccessful "Yes, Yes, Yvette"] is NO, NO, NANETTE.
  • 44A. [1953 musical with the song "No Other Love"] is one I've never heard of, ME AND JULIET. Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard," sure—but not ME AND JULIET.
  • 56A. HELLO, DOLLY! is the classic [1964 musical starring Carol Channing].

Favorite entry in this puzzle: the ELKS CLUB, or a [Fraternal group, familiarly]. Super-fresh—or as fresh as a group of mostly older men can be. Biggest fake-out: I combined the Y from HELLO DOLLY and the clue for 46A, [Stevenson's ill-fated doctor], and automatically filled in MR. HYDE, grumbling that this alter ego wasn't a doctor. D'oh! It's Dr. JEKYLL, who has a Y in the same place.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "That's B.S.!—at least it's broken up"

Matt's puzzle has seven theme entries in which the first word ends with B and the other word begins with S, so there's a broken-up B.S. in each. Alas, there is a Down answer outside of the theme in which there's an unbroken BS—BEAR CUBS, clued as [Den mother's group]. The theme lacks a certain rationale, as we don't typically think of breaking up bullshit. Here are the theme answers:
  • 17A. To JOB SHADOW is to [Sit in with a worker, perhaps]. The first 6 letters had me thinking of job-sharing, but the clue's about tailing someone, not doing the same job at different times.
  • 21A. COBB SALAD [includes bacon, lettuce and avocado]. I'll pass on two counts.
  • 28A. CLUB SODA is a [Drink that supposedly helps remove most stains].
  • 36A. THUMB SUCKER is [One whose habit may cause dental problems].
  • 49A. SOB STORY is a [Tale lost on the heartless].
  • 56A. WEB SEARCH [may be done inside a toolbar].
  • 62A. The BOMB SQUAD is [called in to check suspicious packages].

There are always some bloggable clues in a Jonesin' puzzle—interesting or unusual answers, oddball names, etc. ["Hinky Dinky Parlay ___" (WWI song)] is completed by VOO (parlez vous). SAL ["___ the Stockbroker" ("The Howard Stern Show" personality)] is nothing I've ever heard of. BOPGUN is a [1977 hit from George Clinton and Parliament] and I can't say I recognize the title. What's a [Rounded architectural framework in cathedrals]? It's a RIB VAULT. LOW BP is clued as a [Healthy heart rate, on a doctor's chart], though actually, blood pressure can be dangerously low too. JOYSTICK, or [Arcade game control], is a terrific-looking crossword answer. I think Brendan Quigley might've had [Aladdin ___ (David Bowie alter ego)]/SANE in a puzzle recently, and yet I still forgot it. "A lad insane"? I'm not convinced that ZOOMANIA, or [Animal fanatic's condition], is a real English word; it might be a Spanish one.