November 06, 2006

Tuesday, 11/7

Ink Well 4:17
NYS 4:12
Onion 3:45
NYT 3:20
Tues. LAT 3:16
CS 3:06
Mon. LAT 2:27

(post updated at 9:15 a.m. and 5:05 p.m. Tuesday)

Don't neglect to vote Tuesday! (Unless you're supporting candidates I don't like, in which case I don't mind if you're too busy to vote or don't want to go out in the rain.)

Two nifty puzzles from the Times and the Sun—an election-themed puzzle by Bruce Douglas in the NYT and a monkeying-with-words theme in Gary Steinmehl's Sun.

The NYT crossword has three [Red state] theme entries (e.g., COMMUNISM) in the western half of the grid and three [Blue state] entries (e.g., MELANCHOLY, which is an awesome word) to the east. Now, to more accurately reflect past voting trends, the westernmost red entry should be California blue, and the southernmost blue should be Deep South red. That would have been a fun bending of symmetry, no? Douglas's grid includes election-themed clues for other words, too—FADE, WEST, SLID, AISLE, OF AGE, RIDES, GORE. If you include that smattering of words as part of the theme, you get a pretty thematically dense puzzle, but one with a light and effortless feel to it. (Pointless aside: The fill includes SCOTSMEN, and my husband has just learned from the Food Network that it was the Scots who invented fried chicken. So now you know who to thank.) Punch 1 (or fill in the optical scan arrow, or poke the touchscreen, or pull the lever) for this puzzle.

Great Sun puzzle by Gary Steinmehl. In “Lose Ends,” the four theme entries lose part of a word at the end, leaving a shorter word with a very different meaning. (Each removed fragment constitutes a standalone word, too.) [Convention for vulgar types] drops a SURE from the end, leaving INDECENT EXPO (I think I’ve seen a show about those expos on HBO). I like the near-juxtaposition of POP DIVA Madonna and WANNABE (remember the Madonna wannabes?). DOOWOP, delicious TWIX, and DRAWL all add a little more zest to the grid. Never heard of the '50s vocal quartet, the HI-LO'S; they disbanded before I was born. Mind you, Buddy Holly died before I was born and I know his music, but... I actually like it when a crossword includes one of those old actress names that puzzlers know but hardly anyone else does—it's NITA Naldi this time, but Pola Negri's also a cruciverbal all-star. Punch 2 for this puzzle.


Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle has seven theme entries.

This week's Onion A.V. Club crossword is Deb Amlen's "For the Birds." It's rich with pop culture—ahh, just the way I like my crosswords. With references to "Saved by the Bell," Courtney Love, and outrĂ© film, the fill was great. The theme? Groan-inducing puns.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "State Lines," clues HELEN as [Milli___ (the amount of beauty needed to launch one ship)], which amused me—as did much in this puzzle. An educational experience, for me; I'd never heard of Daddy Yankee in 43-Down's clue or MARC Bolan from 5-Across, and didn't know much about '70s pundit SHANA Alexander (who was the model for Jane Curtin's "SNL" character doing the point/counterpoint debates on Weekend Update).