NYT 2:52 (but the applet lied)
Gail Grabowski's New York Times crossword
Aw, the applet stole 13 seconds from me. I've been in a mood all day, but luckily, this puzzle snapped me out of that before the applet took a little SIESTA (3D: [Sonora snooze]). The crossword was very firm with me, in fact. ["Tough!"], it admonished me. 20A: "JUST DEAL WITH IT." 35A: "TOO BAD, SO SAD." (That one, I've never said. Is it a newer phrase, perhaps? It's in-the-language enough that there are t-shirts with that message.) And my favorite, 51A: "THEM'S THE BREAKS." There's something about a crossword entry that's ungrammatical but a familiar colloquial phrase that strikes me the right way.
CON JOB is good, too—that's a [Swindler's work]. SPR., the abbreviation for "spring," is clued with [It begins in Mar.]; I wouldn't like this except that September 22 is the autumnal equinox so SPR. is a timely opposite. "I SWEAR!" is clued as ["No fooling!"]; it's also the name of constructor Vic Fleming's newspaper column. SOAP and CLEAN cross each other, but while the former is a [Laundromat buy], CLEAN is clued as [Completely off drugs].
It feels like I've seen ORSER in about five puzzles over the last month. Who's that? [1987 world figure skating champion Brian], that's who.
Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "Remember the Date: we'll make it three times as easy for you"
This crossword uses left/right symmetry rather than standard rotational symmetry. The theme entries all relate to dates like this month's 09/09/09:
Five other entries from the fill:
Updated Tuesday morning:
Raymond Hamel's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Plane English"—Janie's review
AW, GEE. Here we go AGAIN. PUNS [Groan inducers]. I know that doesn't AUGUR well for some of you, but for the easily amused (and I definitely put myself in that category...), there's lots to like here. Not only do homophones abound, but, taking their CUE (but not of the [Chalked stick variety]) from the title, all of the theme entries rhyme as well. Check it out. There's:
Yesterday, you may recall, I was trying to squeeze from the get-go into Gail Grabowski's puzzle. Well, thank you, Ray, for appropriately making 1A [Starting point] GET-GO. I'd love to attribute the appearance of this word to my gift for ESP, but that really is a [Fortuneteller's gift] and definitely not mine. This was mere coincidence (but I love it all the same!). From the Okefenokee Swamp (in Georgia—and also once part of the aforementioned Spanish Main) we also get [Walt Kelly's] "I GO [POGO"] which is not only a book of Pogo comic strips (published in the early 1950s) but also what sounds like a terrific (if difficult to actually get a viewable copy of) little animated movie.
The bottom third of the puzzle is loaded with references that take us globetrotting. There's FJORD [Long narrow inlet], a feature I always associate with Scandinavia (I know they can be found elsewhere...); JAPAN [Where noh originated] (and SUSHI, the [Seaweed-wrapped food] we get from Japan); LANAI, that Hawaiian [Island near Molokai]; "GUNGA [Din"], which conjures up Kipling's India; and even Indonesia's JAVA MAN [Fossil discovery of 1891]. There's underworld action as well, with HADES [Abode of the dead].
Sometimes I know I've led a sheltered life. See, I've heard of a CHAIN SAW, but I'd never heard of Leatherface, as in [Leatherface's weapon]. Well, how many of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre movies have you seen?! (And there a lot of 'em!)
More in my wheelhouse is this kind of info: Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics and Rube Bloom the music for the standard "FOOLS Rush In"—or as Ray clues it [They rush in where angels fear to tread]. Many, many folks've recorded this song, but for his version, Ricky Nelson made it SIDE A [Half of a 45]; the B Side was Gerry Coffin and Carole King's "Down Home." Take a listen to Side A.
Dan Naddor's Los Angeles Times crossword
Dan's theme doesn't exhaust all the spellings of the "ussle" sound, but tussle doesn't start a familiar phrase. Neither do bustle and hustle, so he's assembled two R- phrases and two M- phrases in this Tuesday/Wednesday-level pussle:
The short fill in this puzzle is nothing special (it seldom is), but the longer fill is terrific. CRAPSHOOT is a [Gambling metaphor for a risky venture]. ALGER HISS was a [Suspected Soviet spy of the McCarthy era]. If they're AT IT AGAIN, they're [Quarreling once more]; if you're lucky, you're not using this phrase too often. I didn't see the Emmys RED CARPET ([It's rolled out for celebs]) on Sunday. MACHISMO is a highly overrated [Tough-guy trait].
Overall, a good Tuesday solve, with a fresh and gettable theme, smooth fill, and some sparkle.
September 21, 2009