CS 9:05 (J―paper)
I'm not quite sure where the day went, but it's now dark out and I didn't even start the Fourth Bloggiversary bad theme contest wrap-up. Saturday? Maybe.
Trip Payne's New York Times crossword
Have you ever noticed that SEMICONSCIOUS and SELF-CONSCIOUS differ by only two letters? I did, when I let the crossings guide me to the former to answer 31A, [Uncomfortable, in a way]. Why, that would make no sense at all! Eventually I unraveled that. Later, at 52A, [Uncomfortable] clues ILL AT EASE, which I think was in one of last Saturday's puzzles.
Looking at the finished grid just now, for a moment I wondered, who is TOM BRAIDER? That one, of course, is TOMB RAIDER, an [Influential 1996 video game] (43A). Has anyone worked Lara Croft plaiting a turkey or cat's hair into a cryptic clue yet? (Yes, I realize turkeys lack hair.)
Let's run down my favorite answers and clues in this puzzle. There's a lot of cool stuff:
One of the Friday puzzles had a very similar clue and also sat wrong with me. DO-RAGS are clued here (1D) as [Rappers' wrappers]. Yes, it would be gauche to clue them as [Some black folks' head coverings], but the vast majority of people sporting do-rags aren't rappers.
I have to take a break now and put my kid to bed. Back with more later, provided I don't conk out.
—I'm back after a Frank Longo Vowelless Crosswords nap. I recommend the book, but I can't say I advise touching it when sleepy.
Returning to the list of highlights:
Other bits and pieces that were more straightforward, but not necessarily any easier:
Updated Saturday morning:
Stella Daily & Bruce Venzke's CrosSynergy/Washington Post Puzzle, "Four Steps to a Perfect Wedding" ―Janie's review
If you're romantically predisposed to love the idea of a June wedding, by all means, fire up the Lohengrin. With only three days left to "enjoy" that particular rite, Stella and Bruce give us a humorous glimpse of the other side of the coin. In four 15-letter theme answers (that's a very healthy 60 letters of theme fill), they take us through the (reality-based?) stages of planning a wedding:
I love that we get a bonus clue/fill right from the get-go with [Come together, as in matrimony] for UNITE, off-setting any MISERY generated by that pre-nup planning. I also smiled to see RENO in the puzzle and wondered if at some time it had been clued as the the country's one-time capital of the quickie divorce (rather than the neutral [It's near Carson City]).
While I didn't complete this one with the greatest of EASE, neither did it entirely WHUP me. In puzzles such as this, where the four major answers are minimally and similarly clued, it's almost a necessity to solve the puzzle using the "down" clues, if you want to get any real traction. I did throw myself off, though, entering IAMBS instead of IAMBI, and right next to it, hastily (unthinkingly...) scrawling STEET instead of STEEL. Looking at the whole of 46A [...step 3], what word ends with the letters MSTY?! (I didn't really need the Cruciverb database to tell me, "Sorry, no results for *msty.") I somewhere, somehow knew the phrase Damascus steel, but reading this gave me a better idea of what it actually is.
Had never heard of [Lefty Grove, for one]―a SOUTHPAW, though that "lefty" part shoulda tipped me off. I like, though, how this fill is right below [Elvis's birthplace] TUPELO, a Mississippi town that lies in the South. (And this may be amusing to me alone, but I just remembered that one of the King's movies was Viva Las Vegas...)
And since that brings us back to the Southwest, hello to CS-debut WHITTLED, as in [Created a kachina]. Authentic kachina "dolls" are actually religious icons and they are made only by Hopi artists. And in an attempt to pull everything together, here's a link to a (kinda scary) picture of a kachina doll-head wedding cake. Really!!
Orange clocking in again—with wedding congratulations for Stella Daily, who's celebrating her birthday today by marrying her sweetheart, Dave. (Not in Vegas.) It is ridiculously cute that Stella and Bruce's wedding-themed puzzle is running today.
Barry Silk's Los Angeles Times crossword
Usually I write my Saturday L.A. Crossword Confidential post on Friday night, but I wasn't feeling too hot last night so I went to bed post-NYT instead and blogged this morning. I'm feeling all blogged out about this puzzle now. But I liked it, and I was glad it felt 25% tougher than the last two Saturday LATs did. Mind you, I can't be sure it really was harder because I came it with a couple glasses of wine in me. (Not to worry! I did the crossword last night, not this morning.)
Am I the only one who sees EDAMES in the grid—["My Cup Runneth Over" singer]—and thinks of edamame? Here's a bad cryptic clue: ["My Cup Runneth Over" singer abandons South, hugs mother for a soybean snack] (7).
27D is SHARK, clued as [Whiz]. As I hinted at the other blog, I'd love to be known as a crossword shark. Go ahead and promulgate that, will you? Thanks. Now, I might just be a tiger shark and not a great white shark, but don't underestimate tiger sharks. We're voracious and deadly, too.
Check out L.A. Crossword Confidential for the rest of my thoughts on this puzzle.
Doug Peterson's Newsday "Saturday Stumper"
The Stumper takes another week off from being a real killer. (PDF solution here.) Let's break it down. First up, favorites:
Next, tough stuff:
And finally, random musings:
June 26, 2009