October 26, 2009

Tuesday, 10/27/09

Jonesin' 3:45
NYT 2:58
LAT 2:48
CS untimed

Chuck Deodene's New York Times crossword

This constructor has a weird pattern of NYT bylines. Several puzzles a year through the '90s, one in 2001, two in fall '07, and now two in the second half of this month. If he's cranking out more puzzles like today's, then dang it, the flow should keep going now. The theme is the old-fashioned cheer, the components of which I know more from crossword fill than from any real-life cheerleading: "Rah, rah, sis-boom-bah!" Has this phrase been exclaimed unironically in the last 30 years? Doubtful. But that goofy little phrase pops up in consecutive circled squares in various lively answers.

• 17A. The first RAH is in TETRAHEDRON, a [Solid with four triangular faces]. It's a pyramid but with a triangular base rather than the square one seen in Egypt.
• 25A. The [Chief of staff in the Obama White House] is RAHM EMANUEL, with RAH #2. Rahm's kids go to school near me. I'll bet my internist knows him because her kids go to the same school.
• 35A. GENESIS is the [Start of the Bible]. SIS!
• 37A. The BOOMERS are the [Post-WW II demographic, informally]. BOOM!
• 49A. A [High muck-a-muck] is a GRAND POO-BAH. I prefer other spellings: muckety-muck and pooh-bah. The cheer ends with a non-Scroogean BAH. (See also 46D: [Jacob whose ghost appears to Scrooge], MARLEY.)
• 57A. CHEERLEADER ties it all together as the [Shouter of this puzzle's circled sounds].

I'm fond of any number of answers in the fill. My top 10:

• 47D. BOTERO! [Fernando ___, painter of plump figures], is also a sculptor. That's his work at the Besthoff Sculpture Garden in New Orleans. We love us some Botero. We use "Boteri" as the plural of "Botero artwork."
• 34D. LOWBALL is [Like an offer that's under actual value.
• 29D. The DEEP END is the [Part of a pool for diving].
• 50D. "PSHAW!" means ["Nonsense!"].
• 31A. TIPSY is clued as [Midway between sober and drunk]. The word is as fun as the feeling.
• 22D. [Riddles] are ENIGMAS.
• 37D/47A. How can I resist the BLOB/BOOB combo? One is a [1958 sci-fi classic, with "The"] and the other is an [Idiot].
• 12D. We've seen ITUNES in the puzzle plenty in recent years, but I like the [Online music mart] clue because it somehow made me think of K-Tel.
• 8D. Mmm, MORSEL. Tasty [Tiny bit to eat]. I refer, of course, to Trader Joe's miniature peanut butter cups, about twice the size of a regular chocolate chip.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "2 Funny: i'z in ur crosswurd, makin u solv"

The title evokes LOLcats because the theme entries have an LOL inserted into them. Some people think LOLcats are dumb. Some people don't understand the appeal at all. And some of us like them and may even speak in LOLcats from time to time. "Ur doin it rong!" we say here at home. "O hai," we say. Mind you, there is no actual LOLcats-like content in this puzzle, just the intrusive LOLs:

• 18A. "Grade A" becomes GRADE LOLA, or [Rate Jennifer Lopez's newest alter ego?]. I'm sorry, did she come up with something post-"Jenny from the block"? I wasn't aware. Did you know that "lola" is a Filipino word for "grandma"? My son loves his lola and lolo.
• 24A. Today is "CALL LOLITA' DAY, or [Time to phone your nearest Nabokov character]. "Call it a day" means to stop doing something for the day.
• 38A. [Got lazy for the sake of worship?] clues LOLLED TO BELIEVE ("led to believe"). Nice crossing this with BLESSED BE, or [Wiccan salutation].
• 49A, 59A. [Kojak's bootleg British porn title?] might be SEX, LOLLIES, AND VIDEOTAPE. We call 'em suckers or lollipops on this side of the ocean.

Holy cats! There's a new ELON clue! 69A is clued [Actor Gold of the Fox series "Stacked"]. Oh, wait—that's the Pamela Anderson bookstore show that lasted less than one season. ELON Gold is also a comedian and writer, but he needs to get cracking if he's going to be a viable alternative to the North Carolina university in our crosswords.

Gotta love the IG NOBEL Prizes, the 26D: [Yearly parody prize awarded at Harvard]. This year's winners are a good batch, particularly the Physics team who explained why pregnant women do not tip over.

Fred Jackson III's Los Angeles Times crossword

Alas, the grid is not wide enough to accommodate BEI MIR BIST DO SCHÖN, just four other beginning with words (or a syllable, in one instance) that sound like BEI:

• 20A. BY THE SAME TOKEN means [Furthermore]. Who has these tokens? Anyone? Curious phrase. Completely familiar, but odd now that I'm thinking about it.
• 33A. BYE BYE BIRDIE is the [1961 Tony-winning musical inspired by Elvis being drafted]. The hair from his in-the-army-now haircut just sold at auction for 15 grand.
• 43A. The BICENTENNIAL was the [7/4/1976 celebration]. I turned 10 that summer, and I loved my red, white, and blue shorts and halter top outfit. I do not currently own any outfits that evoke the U.S. flag.
• 59A. "BUY NOW, PAY LATER" is a [Retail store financing come-on].

This is an easy enough puzzle, but I got off to a need-the-crossings start with 1-Across. The [One-person boat] isn't a KAYAK? No, it's a SKIFF. I don't think I knew skiffs were one-person boats. Maybe because they aren't strictly that—c.f. Three Men in a Boat. Hmm.

Gotta love punctuation. The COMMA is 8D: [Cause for a pause].

34D: [Netanyahu of Israel, familiarly] clues BIBI, Benjamin Netanyahu's nickname. Remember the Letterman Top Ten list of ways to mispronounce "Bibi Netanyahu" back on June 4, 1996? My favorites were Yahu Netanbibi, Betty Needs a Yoo-Hoo, and Boutros Boutros Yahu.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Who Needs Friends?"—Janie's review

Today we have a four-part Klahn quip-puzzle—by way of none other than Paul Newman. Bob's title is a twist on the old (rhetorical-type) query, "With friends like you, who needs enemies?" The Newman rejoinder?


Newman sure had character, but it's hard for me to imagine that he had enemies. (Still, I do know what he's talking about; I suspect he'd have said the same thing about wrinkles...)

And this puzzle (like all the good ones) has character, too, in the sense of personality—which it gets from its vivid cluing and fill. I particularly like the phrasal (and phrase) combos: WEIGH IN [Add one's two cents], SWEAR AT [Shower curses on], "I MEAN IT!" ["All kidding aside!"], "IT'S EASY!" ["Piece of cake!"], and TAKE A NAP [Recharge one's batteries].

Bob's also provided some sweet sequential clue pairs: the paradoxically worded [It'll fly if it's ironclad] for ALIBI and [It flies on Saturdays only in emergencies] for Israeli airline EL AL; and the delightful double-bill [Where Bill met Hillary] for YALE and [Bill with Hamilton] for TEN.

Basketball fans probably got NBA [Where the Suns might beat the Heat (abbr.)] without too much difficulty, but how about [Hoop skirts?]? This is one terrific clue for NETS and gave me a fine "AHA!" For SNL fans, there's both TINA FEY and Will FERRELL; and for those more inclined to classic writers there's CONGREVE ["Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast" poet William] and Anton CHEKHOV [Russian master of the modern short story]. Both of these gents, btw, are also renowned for their contributions to dramatic literature as well. (A PLAY is a [Thing onstage], of course, but today the correct fill is PROP.) Oh—and on the subject of music, there's SHANIA ["I'm Gonna Getcha Good!" singer Twain] and "ADIA" [Top-five Sarah McLachlan hit...].

The grid, if you didn't notice is distinguished by those triple columns of sevens in each of the four corners, where we encounter such fill as ELF-LIKE, BEST BET, SYMPTOM and HORRIFY.

Finally, my fave clue/fill combos today include:

• ["South Park" kid with a two-part head]/IKE;
• [Spots for shots]/ARM;
• [Boobs, boors, and bozos]/OAFS; and
• [Past prince, perhaps]/FROG.