November 01, 2009

Monday, 11/2/09

NYT 2:59
LAT 2:54
CS untimed
BEQ tba

Blogging will be inattentive and possibly typo-laden—some sort of virus has taken up residence here, and it may not be the flu but it's more than a cold. Now, who will bring me some cocoa and a blanket?

Andrea Carla Michaels and Kent Clayton's New York Times crossword

Monday maven Andrea has partnered up with a newbie, Kent Clayton, for a crossword I can't show my son. As far as I know, he hasn't yet given up belief in the EASTER BUNNY, TOOTH FAIRY, and SANTA CLAUS. He does, however, enjoy those Ripley's BELIEVE IT OR NOT books. Cute theme.

I like the fill too. FLOTSAM and KARACHI and an ACQUITTAL are fancy for Monday, but I don't think they're too hard for Monday. (If you complain that KARACHI is obscure, then I will complain that you ought to spend some more time spinning a globe.) FROTH is a [Possible sign of rabies]—whew! I haven't got that in my constellation of signs and symptoms. [Gobsmack] is a great clue for STUN, isn't it?

All righty, it's back to the couch for me now.

Updated Monday morning:

Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "String Quintet"—Janie's review

This puzzle is music to my eyes. Not only is the theme fill most satisfying for lovers of wordplay (almost picking up where Tony's Saturday puzzle left off), but once again, Randy has given us a lot of it: 67 squares in two 15s, which overlap two 12s, and a 13 at the center of it all. Concertmaster, an "A," please, as we tune up and tune in:

•17A. [String instruments made in the U.S.A.?]. There's a pun in the fill here, and it conjures up Emily Litella speaking out in impassioned tones to defend "violins on television." The base phrase here is domestic violence; the theme fill, DOMESTIC VIOLINS—all of which sits atop
•20A. [What a cool rapper might listen to in heaven?]. Not hip-hop music, but its vividly punny relative HIP HARP MUSIC. I bet this would pique the interest of a lot of heaven's denizens—from all segments of the population.
•35A. [BeyoncĂ© song about a lovely string instrument?]. Homophone time here as "Beautiful Liar" becomes (harp relative) "Beautiful Lyre."
•53A. [Movie about how an Indian string instrument is made]. Thank you, Randy, for the flat out groaner as A Star is Born gains an "I" and a syllable to become A SITAR IS BORN. Starring Ravi Shankar, no doubt. The sitar, btw, is not traditionally found in Western orchestration, but pieces for sitar and orchestra do exist—and the Beatles' George Harrison was, um, instrumental in bringing its sound to pop music in such songs as "Within You and Without You." And this fill sits atop
•57A. [How to keep some string instruments from being damaged by rain]. Here we have another homophone, as the good idea when trying to hedge one's bets, to cover one's bases, becomes COVER ONE'S BASSES.

If this fill isn't colorful enough for you, Randy has also provided [Cool and colorful summer treat] SNO-CONES—not to mention RED [Stop signal], YELLOW [Coward's color] and PINKY... just kidding. That's been clued as [Place for a ring]. While my dad wore an understated one almost all of his married life (an anniversary gift from my mom), I confess I now tend to associate pinky rings with people who might be involved in some kind of RACKET [Shady business], or someone involved in CASING ("the joint") [Reconnaissance activity for a criminal]. Call it the "Don Corleone/Tony Soprano Effect"...

Other fill that kept things lively include: the adverbial phrase TO DEATH [Words following bored or scared], SINS for [Deadly septad], RAISIN (and not BANANA) for [Cereal fruit], LUSHLY for [In an opulent manner], ASTUTE for [Sharp], UNIVAC for (one very astute [if large...]) [Early computer], CONSUL for [State Department employee], and—a character I'd not thought about in years—PETUNIA [Porky's girlfriend].

While I question WIT—which I associate with the likes of Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw—as the [Talent of Leno or Letterman], the presence of Ms. Petunia in combination with all of this puzzle's highlights, gave me a good TEE-HEE [Chuckle].

And if you aren't familiar with Mozart's string quintets, here's a sample of some music to my ears!

Ten hours of sleep helped. Looks to be a garden-variety bug rather than the flu. I am relieved to be merely coughing and achy.

Pancho Harrison's Los Angeles Times crossword

I filled 71-Across via the Downs (hey, look, the RABBI and ISLAM are coexisting peacefully at the CARD TABLE) so I had to look for TIME's unifying clue after I was all done. The long theme entries are phrases in which both words can follow TIME:

• SLOT MACHINE gets you a time slot and a time machine.
• CARD TABLE gives you a timecard and timetable.
• OFF LIMITS gives you some restorative time off within some time limits.
• PERIOD PIECE (which I would have clued with reference to movies rather than novels) provides a certain time period and a timepiece.

Liveliest answer: MRS. PEEL, ["The Avengers" heroine, to Steed]. Least current clue: SNL is the [NBC show with Baba Wawa skits]. I'm sure a lot of people under the age of 40 have never seen those classic skits, since Gilda Radner left SNL in 1980.

Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "Horsing Around"

The theme's famous horses of fiction and non-. I only remembered about three and a half of the eight horses in the grid:

• [Buddha's horse] was KANTAKA. Buddha had a horse? In his leaner days, maybe?
• MARENGO was [Napoleon's horse]. Byron Walden and I once considered a theme with horrifying recipes like MARE MARENGO, using chicken Marengo's sauce on horsemeat. (Also in the theme: YAK YAKITORI and BEAR BEARNAISE. Yum!)
• [Alexander the Great's horse] was BUCEPHALUS. Briefly wanted this to be BOCEPHALUS.
• In fiction, [Don Quixote's horse] is ROSINANTE or Rocinante.
• [Gandalf's horse] is SHADOWFAX, which is also the name of some '80s New Age music I listened to in my Windham Hill phase in college. No, I'm not proud of it.
• COPENHAGEN was [Wellington's horse]. He had a horse? Oh, yeah, it's in the statue.
• [Xerxes' horse] was STRYMON. Never heard of this one.
• [Chief Sitting Bull's horse] was BLACKIE. Never heard of this one, either.

Rapper to remember for future puzzles: EDAN is the ["Echo Party" rapper]. He must not be too famous or he'd be in more puzzles thanks to those common letters in his name.