November 02, 2009

Tuesday, 11/3/09

NYT 4:00
Jonesin' 3:40
LAT 3:04
CS untimed

Barry Boone's New York Times crossword

Chills + malaise + quote theme = "meh." I guess it's a timely electoral theme for New Yorkers, but nobody's going to the polls in Chicago so politics are not much on my mind. It's a quote by MARIO / CUOMO: "YOU CAMPAIGN IN / POETRY. YOU / GOVERN IN PROSE."

One clue really jumped out at me. A couple weeks ago on the Cruciverb-L list, there was a heated discussion regarding nurses, their roles, the way they're clued in crosswords, and whether they have a valid complaint when they don't like a NURSE clue. Well! NURSE is clued as [Surgeon's assistant]. I guess that puts Will Shortz squarely in the camp of nurses = assistants to doctors, though a couple doctors I talked to accord nurses a considerably higher standing.

Lots of longer fill here, balanced by lots of 3-letter answers. Highlights:

• KWANZAA is a [December celebration] that jacks up the grid's interest level with a K, Z, and final double A.
• SNEEZED gets a trivia clue: [What Fred Ott did in the first movie to be copyrighted].

Was 2D: [Flu fighters: Abbr.] supposed to be a tricky clue leading you to enter the incorrect (but technically far more correct) answer, CDC? The AMA's members may treat people with the flu, but the AMA itself, is it doing much on this issue? I haven't heard of anything.

I feel like I haven't seen RAREE in a puzzle in years, though it used to be more commonplace. The clue is [___ show (carnival attraction)]. Dictionary says archaic: "a form of entertainment, esp. one carried in a box, such as a peep show."

Updated Tuesday morning:

Doug Peterson's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Search Party"—Janie's review

The theme of Doug's puzzle today is a pretty straightforward event. The last part of each theme-name or -phrase is also a word that's synonymous with the word search. A choice was apparently made to clue each of the theme entries in a straightforward way as well. Nuthin' twisty goin' on there–which does make this a good puzzle for newbies, or even solvers with more experience who need a "comfort solve" from a master-constructor. What can I say? There's a lot of terrific non-theme fill/cluing, so (as an example) "I'LL BUY THAT" ["Sounds good to me"]. To get the ball rolling, the theme-fill consists of:

•17A. BONNIE HUNT [Daytime talk show host]. Since 2008.
•27A. TRIVIAL PURSUIT [Game in which players collect wedges]. Never played the game, never knew about the wedges. That's a piece of trivia to tuck away.
•47A. CUTS TO THE CHASE [Makes one's points without delay]. This is my fave of the theme fill as it's both active and concise.
•61A. JONNY QUEST [Animated TV adventure series of the '60s]. Nupe. Never heard of it. But with both a "J" and a "Q," what's not to love? And yes, another piece of trivia to tuck away.

More interesting (for my money...) is the aforementioned non-theme fill/cluing. There's the sequential "Down" pair, for starters, opposites GET WORSE [Take a downturn] and SHORE UP [Bolster]. Then, there are those KOPS or ["Keystone" lawmen], who could always be counted on to be part of a MELEE [Free for all]—especially when on a hunt, in pursuit, on a chase or a quest. Did they ever use HOUNDS [Hunting dogs] when trying to nab the PERP [Criminal in copspeak]? I kan't rekall... STEALTH [Cat burglar's asset], however, was never their strong suit. Oh, and from the same early era of film-making, there's The Little Tramp and his CANE [Prop for Chaplin] (who made his first appearance in a Keystone comedy).

[Soup can artist] Andy WARHOL also spoke of everyone's having their "15 minutes of fame." Happily, SARAH [Jazz singer Vaughan] shared considerably more than that with us. I suppose it's all a matter of taste (which is so very subjective) and even context as to whether that's too much time or not enough where the excellent "slacker" actor SETH [Rogen of "Knocked Up"], ARLO [Folk's Guthrie] or [Rock band Mötley ___ ] CRUE are concerned...

HIGH SIERRA [Bogart/Lupino film of 1941] is the one in which Bogart spoke the line: "I wouldn't give you two cents for a dame without a temper." Why does that make me smile so?

But to end on a genuinely "sweet" note, we get "chocolate x 2" today with Roald DAHL [Wonka's creator] (Willie Wonka being the candy-maker in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and (bane of mothers/delight of dentists everywhere) [Count] CHOCULA [(Cereal brand)], making every day Halloween.

David Cromer's Los Angeles Times crossword

The theme is THE OUTER LIMITS, and the other three theme entries have outer "limits": BORDER TERRIERS, MARGIN ACCOUNTS, and FRINGE BENEFITS. I think. Or they just begin with words that mean "limit." Usually an "outer" theme will break up a word more than just plunking an S at the end.

For more on this puzzle, I refer you to PuzzleGirl's L.A. Crossword Confidential post.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "Uh-Oh, It's Magic"

I don't quite get this theme. 1A/17A spell out ANY / CARD FROM THE DECK—[what you're instructed to pick]. What magician is going to use those words, "Pick any card from the deck"? It's "Pick a card, any card" in standard parlance. SHUFFLE SHUFFLE is the [Sound effect now heard after putting it back]. Wait, SHUFFLE isn't a sound at all. "IS THIS YOUR CARD?" is the [Question I hope to be correct]. Wait, it's not that the question should be correct. The answer to the question should be affirmative. "HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!?" is the [Response I'm really hoping to get], but "BOO!" is the [Response that, odds are, I'm probably going to get]. Wait, who boos someone if they successfully pull out the right card? Or is the implication that the person doing the card trick has completely failed to pull it off? Hmph.

Time to do some editing before the virus returns me to the sofa.