September 01, 2009

Wednesday, 9/2/09

NYT 3:39
LAT 2:55
CS J—untimed
BEQ untimed (joon)
Onion 5:04 (joon--paper)

Jim Hyres's New York Times crossword

I had to confirm with Google Maps but yes, the theme entries here roughly sketch out a map of Midtown Manhattan. Broadway cuts through on a diagonal, represented by B-R-O-A-D-W-A-Y in circled squares in the puzzle. And EIGHTH NOTE ([Quaver]), SEVENTH-DAY ([Like some Adventists]), SIXTH SENSE ([Intuition]), and FIFTH WHEEL ([Superfluous person]) roughly sit where 8th, 7th, 6th, and 5th Avenues run (except that the streets are more evenly spaced apart than the theme entries are). The BROADWAY line isn't a straight diagonal because Broadway, the street, has some jogs in it. Certainly this is an unusual theme, and I like its geographic bent.

The theme was more fun than the rest of the puzzle. ALER beside XERS is a few too many -ER people for one corner of a puzzle. I don't knowo whether XERS who do this puzzle will know that SCHAEFER beer is ["The one to have when you're having more than one" sloganeer]. Luckily, Inti is in the clue and not the answer: [Like the sun god Inti] clues INCA. [Partner of grease] seems like an odd clue for DIRT. There are a zillion other short answers of the icky variety (ENNA the [Sicilian resort city], ample abbreviations).

Pop culture haters won't like the current TV clue for HECHE: [Anne of HBO's "Hung"]. I know everyone talks about Mad Men, but Hung is the cable show we watch at Casa Reynaldo. I wonder if the person who wrote the clue is aware that the show's title refers to the male protagonist's genital endowment.

[Lady Lindy] clues Amelia EARHART. She was portrayed by Amy Adams in that Night at the Museum Smithsonian sequel this spring, and this fall there's an EARHART movie starring Hilary Swank.

Anyone else flub the [Bar closing time, often]? With T**AM, I went with TEN A.M. D'oh! That's eight hours too late.

Updated Wednesday morning:

Bruce Venzke & Stella Daily's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Row Homes"—Janie's review

This is a puzzle whose theme has been executed in a very well-made way. The central entry at 40A is the key to kingdom: HOUSE [A type of one appears in each part of this puzzle's longest entries]. Note those words "each part." Each of the theme phrases—each of which can stand on its own—is made up of two words, each of which describes a kind of house. They're beside each other in the row, hence the title... Now where I'm from, this makes them semi-detached homes (technically), but believe me—I'm not about to quibble! Here's what we get:

  • 17A. [Novel in which pigs rule the roost] ANIMAL FARM. (Hmm, remember "Some pigs are more equal than others"?...That George Orwell certainly had an understanding of group dynamics, no?) This gives us Animal House and farm house.
  • 24A. [Where to get a public hearing] OPEN COURT. An open house is more than a real estate term; and wow—check out the Luzerne County (Wilkes-Barre, PA) courthouse. Impressive!
  • 49A. [Type of challenge in "The Amazing Race"] ROADBLOCK. This combo conjures up Road House Blues, and the "small, isolated fort in the form of a single building" known as a blockhouse.
  • 62A. [Lean cut of beef] ROUND STEAK. This gives us the place where locomotives are serviced, the roundhouse. As a terminus of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Baltimore's classic roundhouse is now the home of the B&O Railroad Museum—a building that's on the National Registrar of Historic Landmarks. And let me not forget to mention that this entry also gives us steakhouse!
There's other good cluing/fill in here as well. Notably:
  • [Bad Ems, for one]. Did you know this one right off the bat? I sure didn't. This is a SPA in Germany. So that's Bad as in bath and not a comment on a type of dash (or women named for Dorothy Gale's Auntie)...
  • CLASSY classes up the joint and "EGAD!" comes to us as a [Quaint exclamation]. Where "quaint" is concerned, I found that to be truer of TOGS, clued slangily (and slightly quaintly...) as [Duds].
  • I also like METEOR and GIGOLO in the grid. They make for lively fill—always a plus.
  • Ditto HATTIE [McDaniel who played Mammy]. This is a reference to the 1939 movie of Gone with the Wind. The gifted and savvy Ms. McD was the first African-American to be Oscar-nominated and the first to win as well.
A couple of weeks ago, Randy Ross clued OVA as [Breakfast for Brutus] and I commented that it surprised me. "Certainly the ancient Romans ate eggs," I wrote, "but I just can't feature Brutus sitting down to breakfast and asking his wife (or more likely his servant) to prepare 'two eggs, over easy' (or 'two ova, ova easy'...). Just something incongruous about this clue/fill combo." Today, we have a variation on the same theme with the clue [Caesar's breakfast?]. Now, believe me, I know this is meant jocularly, but STRICTly in the for-what-it's-worth column, while egg dishes were being prepared back then (I stand enlightened), it's far more likely that these guys were eating bread and cheese and fruit for breakfast. On the other hand (or maybe in it...), it seems the ancient Romans really did have a thing for deviled eggs. I kid you not!

And one final shout out to my home town (the Chamber of Commerce owes me!) with this site that has some wonderful photos of and backstory on the city's famous row houses.

Jerome Gunderson's Los Angeles Times crossword

I really liked the fun pop-culture flip-flop theme, but I'm going to refer you to the L.A. Crossword Confidential post I wrote last night because a migraine has befallen me this morning.

Brendan Emmett Quigley's blog crossword

joon here to pinch-blog for our migraine-stricken hostess. brendan's got a themeless wednesday for us today, and it's tough as nails. the version i test-solved yesterday was even tougher, but this one's still got a whole lot of tough in it. in addition to some stumperesque cluing, there were several answers i hadn't heard of at all:

  • [Shampoo for psoriasis] is TEGRIN.
  • [Doctor Who's time machine] is TARDIS. yikes. and these two crossed each other at the R. luckily, R was the most reasonable-looking guess there.
  • [Live Aid and Live 8 concert organizer Bob] GELDOF, anyone?
  • [Walter ___, The Clock King portrayer on TV's "Batman"] is SLEZAK. ye gods.
  • those were all proper nouns, but there was also one improper (?) noun that i didn't know: CANTLE, or [Saddle seat back].

as usual, though, brendan's stuffed the grid with some goodies, like AIR QUOTE and MIX IT UP and P.F. CHANG'S. i also really like the word HIRSUTE, and the ambivalent combination of "YES, LET'S" and "I MEAN NO."

Byron Walden's Onion AV club crossword

i loved this puzzle. my favorite onion puzzle in recent memory. and yes, he had me at 31d (["Benny and ___"]). but there was so much goodness here, starting with a tight theme into which byron nonetheless managed to jam five long entries, all of which intersected! the theme is works of art consisting of two people, (at least) one of whom starts with JUL:

  • [Schoolyard duo in a Paul Simon song] is ME AND JULIO.
  • [Bob Dylan song about the Rosenbergs] is JULIUS AND ETHEL. don't know the song, but of course it wasn't hard to infer the title, even before the theme manifested itself.
  • ROMEO AND JULIET [begins, "Two households, both alike in dignity"].
  • the [1962 classic from director François Truffaut] is JULES ET JIM.
  • and finally, intersecting all of the other theme answers running down the middle, we have the [Streep/Adams 2009 biopic], JULIE AND JULIA.

the 70-word fill had some ridiculously fresh entries, too. JOCK ITCH is a [Rash that's embarrassing to scratch]. the SOUP NAZI! he's in here, clued as the [Strict, restaurant-owning Seinfeld character]. [Not one's best effort] is one's B GAME. byron definitely brought his A game today. how else to explain the intricate theme, low word count, great fill, and typically waldenesque (though toned down a notch from his usual saturday level) cluing?