August 23, 2009

Monday, 8/24

LAT 3:08
NYT 2:35
CS 8:22 (J—paper)
BEQ 10:something the first time around, under 5:00 the second time

Anthony Salvia's New York Times crossword

What does "DQ" mean to you? Sports fans think of "disqualified," I think, but those letters put me in mind of DAIRY QUEEN. This puzzle adds three other DQs to that in a rather Scrabbly theme:

  • 17A. DON QUIXOTE is the famed [Tilter at windmills].
  • 49A. DAIRY QUEEN is the [Place to order a Blizzard].
  • 11D. DENNIS QUAID is the [Star of "The Rookie," 2002].
  • 25D. And then there's DOCTOR QUINN, the [Medicine woman of 1990s TV].
The theme's four Q's and an X are joined by another X and a Z in the fill. With 16 non-theme answers that are 6 to 8 letters long, there's a fresh feeling throughout.

  • 21A. ["Dee-fense! Dee-fense!" and others] are football fan CHANTS.
  • 28A. [One of golf's four majors] is the U.S. OPEN.
  • 40A. [Cranium contents] sounds plural, but it's just the one BRAIN in there.
  • 44A/45A. I like consecutive clues that are related. A [Plaza] is a SQUARE and [Plaza displays] can be PARADES.
  • 47A. ZERO is the [Number of calories in water].
  • 9D. EXECRATE means [Detest], loathe, hate. Not sure I've ever actually heard someone say the word aloud. I like execrable more.
  • 40D. BAROQUE is [Like the works of Handel and Bach].
Basic crosswordese for Monday solvers to remember, a.k.a. Five Words Starting With E:
  • 19A. ENID is a [City NNW of Oklahoma City]. Crossworddom's main Oklahoma towns are ENID and ADA.
  • 60A. [___ Gay (W.W. II plane] is the ENOLA Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. It's a depressing reference, but the vowel/consonant/vowel/consonant/vowel pattern makes ENOLA helpful to crossword constructors so you'll see it plenty.
  • 26D. An EPEE is a [Fencing sword]. So's a saber, but EPEE's three E's make it crossword gold.
  • 58A/37D. EDNA and ERMA! ERMA is Bombeck, clued here as [Bombeck who wrote "The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank"], and today's EDNA is [Writer ___ St. Vincent Millay]. Writer ENID Blyton sometimes gets in on the "4-letter women's names starting with E" action. Plus ELLA Fitzgerald and ETTA James.
Updated Monday morning:

Doug Peterson's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "UN Intervention"—Janie's review

No, this is not a puzzle about international relations or the deployment of U.N. peace-keeping troops into some war-torn country. Instead—and to great effect—DOUG (Peterson this time and not [Quarterback Flutie]) has added the letters "UN" to four well-known phrases, yielding two 15s and two 12s. That's how:
  • The Dating Game (that "classic" game show...) becomes 17A's THE DAUNTING GAME [Quiz show requiring exceptional courage?], in one glorious example of going from the ridiculous to the sublime. (Those You Tube clips remind me that appearing on that show certainly did require exceptional courage...)
  • Fishing rod turns into 29A's FISHING ROUND [Part of a bass tournament?]. Took me a while to realize the answer here was neither FISH IN GROUND nor FISHIN' GROUND...
  • No nonsense is transformed into 44A's NOUN NONSENSE [Strict grammarian's bugaboo?].
  • Passing the hat morphs into 58A's PASSING THE HAUNT [Not stopping at one's regular hangout?]. This is my next fave after The Daunting Game. I think that's because in both examples, the "after" phrase has gone a greater distance and is more unexpected and somehow fresher.
But the make-up of the puzzle-as-a-whole has a fresh, lively feel to it (yes—this is what we BEG FOR) and much in it AMUSES—like the tie-in that can be made between LEER [Wolfish look] and LEWD [Obscene]. Ya don't suppose that's because the puzzle more than ALLUDES TO [Hints at] the NUDITY [Bare existence?] that's on display, do ya? We've also got two degrees of being peeved: something may IRK you [Rub the wrong way] or, more aggressively, EAT AT you [Really annoy]; and two side-by-side sorta "sound-alikes" in ICEE [Frozen drink brand] and ASEA [On the briny]. Btw, those [Easter purchases], EGGS, are likely to be [Given a new hue] DYED. But once you've done that, please don't [Bleach] WHITEN 'em!

Completely new to me was ["Romeo Must Die" star] JET LI—and does that name ever look good in the grid. So (for the reminder of cooler weather it evokes) does the word SNOWY on a hot and humid "dog day." [Beverage cart locale] clues AISLE and on that cart you may find your favorite SODA [Soft drink]—in a CAN perhaps (though not in a [Paint container] I should hope...).

Have a preference for [Genteel lunch spots]? Lovely. You may want to investigate intimate TEA HOUSES (or tea rooms) in your city. For less refined needs, there's nothing like a gooey serving of NACHOS, clued punnily as [Cheesy ballpark snack]. And, d'oh, I'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes but I just caught the Eastern connection in this puzzle with DOJO [Judo studio], tea houses, Jet Li, and ANG ["Brokeback Mountain" director Lee]...

Norfleet Pruden's Los Angeles Times crossword

The theme here is four "blank and blank" phrases that are the [Scope of a thorough search]: HIGH AND LOW, INSIDE AND OUT, HITHER AND YON, and FAR AND WIDE. The fill is suitable for a Monday puzzle, but somehow it felt like a Wednesday puzzle to me. Maybe I'm not quite awake yet, because other people are on the board with easy-Monday solving times. Congrats to the constructor on his debut!

I like the way the [Mythical city of gold], EL DORADO], balances FEMINIST ([Gloria Steinem, notably]). Remember how the Equal Rights Amendment just couldn't gain traction in the United States because equal rights for women are just so radical? If you want to be both encouraged and depressed about the state of womankind worldwide, don't miss the Hillary Clinton interview in the New York Times.

I just learned from Bob Klahn interview that Bob is Rich Norris's clue checker for the L.A. Times crosswords. (Hey! That's the sort of freelance gig I should have.) So now I wonder if Bob caught the dig/DUG duplication and Rich didn't mind it, or if neither of them noticed it. 7D: [Digger's creation] is a HOLE, and straight below that answer is 28D: DUG IN, or [Made trenches].

Updated Monday afternoon

Brendan Quigley's blog/Lollapuzzoola crossword, "Stranded"

Dang, where did the day go? Short-form blogging: Theme is TRANSFER RNA, with RNA being transferred out of two theme entries (tornado cellars became TO-DO: CELLARS and internal combustion became INTEL COMBUSTION) and into two others (the unusual "squirrel cage" became SQUIRREL CARNAGE and baby doll turned into the hilarious BARNABY DOLL, a doll of Buddy Ebsen's '70s detective Barnaby Jones). I test-solved this puppy in advance of the tournament and it was a killer. I haven't compared the clues to see what changes might've been made from the first version to the final one—but for the sake of all the tournament attendees, I hope there were plenty of changes! It was a killer, like I said.

Over and out.