May 05, 2009

Wednesday, 5/6

BEQ 4:36
NYT 3:03
LAT 2:58
CS 6:57 (J—paper), 3:05 (A—Across Lite)

Michael Callaway Barnhart's New York Times crossword

This debut puzzle is an easy one, one I'd have finished in a decidedly Tuesdayish time if not for that typo. I paid no mind to the theme while doing the crossword, as the theme entries were all clued straightforwardly, but now I see that the KEY WORD ([Google search need...or a hint to the ends of 20- and 49-Across and 11- and 28-Down]) answers end with keyboard keys:

  • 20A: RUNNING A TAB means [Not paying immediately at the bar]. Remember when the tab was mainly for indenting? Now it's for jumping to the next field in online forms.
  • 49A: To LOSE CONTROL is to [Go ballistic]. I rarely use the control key.
  • 11D: [Apartment building feature] is FIRE ESCAPE. The escape key is handy in Across Lite when it comes time to enter multiple letters in a square.
  • 28D: DO NOT ENTER can be a [Road sign warning]. It says "return" on the enter key on my Apple keyboard.
Among the impressive fill and clues in this puzzle were these:
  • [307 for Wyoming and 907 for Alaska] are AREA CODES.
  • MR. DEEDS was a [2002 Adam Sandler title role].
  • [Through the uprights] clues GOOD, as in "The field goal was good" because it went between the goalpost's uprights.
  • TROPICAL is clued with [Like drinks with umbrellas].
  • The classic [1978 Cheech & Chong movie] is UP IN SMOKE. DOPES (see below) and HEMP, or [Rope material], are clued as if they have no connection whatsoever to what Cheech and Chong were smoking—but STONED is clued with [Like Cheech & Chong, typically].
  • [China's place] is in the CUPBOARD. I went with MAINLAND first because I had the D in place and knew it couldn't be EAST ASIA.
  • KING LEAR was [Cordelia's father].
  • A wedding [Reception toast giver] is typically the BEST MAN.
  • Wiliam [Penn, to Pennsylvania] is an EPONYM.
  • [Bottom lines] aren't just HEMS, they're also SUMS.
Out-there stuff:
  • [El Lider of Argentina] is PERON. El Líder? I've never seen that term inside or outside of crosswords.
  • [100 or so, e.g.: Abbr.] is an EST., or estimate. "How old is your grandma now?" "Oh, 100 or so."
  • The answer to [Deduces, with "out"] is DOPES. Say what? Who says that? My husband and I have never heard DOPES used this way.
  • "I'll take Three-Letter Literary Words for $1,000, please": [1961 Literature Nobelist Andric]'s first name is IVO. [Yevtushenko's "Babi ___"] is YAR.
Updated Wednesday morning:

Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Seven C's"—Janie's review

Can you name them? One of the interesting things about them is that there are some seven variations on the traditional Medieval septet. Oh, wait—Patrick's theme is seven Cs. I was thinking... Never mind.

So—in the three long theme answers we get lively, alliterative phrases in which each word starts with—you know:

  • 17A: COLLISION COURSE [Path of peril]
  • 29A: CHILI CON CARNE [Spicy stew from Mexico] (And happy day-after Cinco de Mayo!)
  • 58A: CLOSED CAPTIONED [Like some broadcasts] -- even those on NBC, that [Network with a three-note theme]. Those chimed notes, btw, go back to the network's radio days.

Somehow I imagine that restricting oneself to seven Cs only—no more, no less—was a genuine construction challenge. Patrick makes it look and feel like a breeze. The peppy cluing and fill add to this puzzle's charms.

Taking a page from the Klahn playbook, we get such entries as [Lofty lair] for AERIE, [Fish features] for FINS, [Piece of Pollock (not this guy] for ART, [Candle composition] for BEESWAX, [Mammal of Madagascar] for LEMUR, and [Petrol provider] for ESSO.

I especially like the way ART sits atop MIRO. "The Tilled Field" lives in the Guggenheim. C'mon down!

Love those two vertical 11s: HELPING HAND and FLINTSTONES; and also the two vertical 8s: PASTRAMI and CILANTRO -- though that's a culinary combo I think I'd like to avoid! For more palatable culinary creativity, be sure to tune into the Food Network tonight (10 p.m. Eastern) for Dinner: Impossible which will revisit this year's ACPT luncheon.

Mike Peluso's L.A. Times crossword

I already wrote up this puzzle for L.A. Crossword Confidential. The theme takes an unusual twist, combining the "words that can precede X" trope with an anagram. 54A: [Food reaction shared by about 3 million Americans] is PEANUT ALLERGY. Did you ever notice that "peanut GALLERY" ([43D: Anagram of 54-Across's ending that can follow the first word of 20-, 33-, 40- and 54-Across]) is an anagram of PEANUT ALLERGY? Apparently Mike Peluso did. The other three theme entries—
  • 20A: ["Kids Say The Darndest Things!" author] is ART LINKLETTER.
  • 33A: [Congressional bone of contention] is the NATIONAL DEBT. Rent I.O.U.S.A. from Netflix for more on that topic.
  • 40A: To [Decide to prosecute] is to PRESS CHARGES.
—operate as standard answers, evoking ART GALLERY, the NATIONAL GALLERY, and PRESS GALLERY.

Updated Wednesday afternoon:

Brendan Quigley's blog puzzle, "Support Group"

Just a quick overview today—The theme there is inserting PRO into a phrase, changing the spelling of the word that turns PRO, and cluing the resulting phrase. "Diesel motor" becomes DIESEL PROMOTER, or [Shaq's agent?]. [Legal action for a rain dance?] clues CLOUD PROCEEDING, playing on "cloud seeding." And a singular "growing pain" (aren't there usually multiple growing pains?) turns into GROWING PROPANE, or [Slowly accumulating barbecue fuel?]. That one doesn't quite work for me, because you'd never say that you're growing the amount of propane you have.

In the fill, BRA is clued as a [Cup holder?]. This one clangs—the bra is made of cups and straps, it doesn't hold cups. What it holds are...not called cups.

Lots of cool fill—a DIME NOVEL, DEL MONTE canned fruit, the au courant SWINE FLU, a LIGHT TOUCH, the PASO DOBLE, and the BAD COP from the "good cop, bad cop" routine ([Interrogation figure]). Bonus nostalgia points for the partial A BILL, clued as ["I'm Just ___" (Schoolhouse Rock classic)].