December 17, 2006

Monday, 12/18

CS 3:13
NYS 2:53
NYT 2:50
LAT 2:37

(post updated at 8:30 a.m. Monday)

First up, movie talk. Have you seen Akeelah and the Bee? Fantastic performances from the kids (particularly star Keke Palmer) and the adults (as you'd expect from Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett), plus a spelling-bee story line with a base of tragedy and middle-school angst. I found it far more moving than the documentary, Spellbound—heck, if I'd tried, I could have cried the whole way through it. And yet it didn't feel manipulative. If you were ever a brainy kid, see this movie. (Available on DVD.)

Donna Levin's NYT puzzle was fun to solve, and the Sun offering was an uncommonly easy crossword (easy by Sun standards) by Barry Silk, "Doubles Partners." The NYT puzzle had a timely theme, with three different [Holiday decoration] entries: CHRISTMAS WREATH, KWANZAA UNITY CUP, and HANUKKAH MENORAH. Between the crapload of consonants in the first and the Scrabbly letters in the latter two themers, plus the diversity inherent in the grouping, I liked the theme. The assorted long fill entries were spangly, too—GANGPLANK, GYPSY MOTH. Curiously, there are three quasi-duplications in the fill: OH NO/OH TO, NO-HIT/NO-WIN, and OPUS/OPERA.

Silk's Sun puzzle features five alliterative pairs like DRAG AND DROP. Three of those theme entries are connected by one of the more Scrabbly names from history, KARL MARX (and you know how I like Scrabbly fill). Plus there's a Q, and John UPDIKE. KAPOK doesn't see the inside of a crossword grid much—is that because of its letters or because it's obscure? (I know it because my grandma used to rehash the story about how my dad had to skip gym class in grade school because he was allergic to kapok in the mats or something. But I didn't encounter the word elsewhere for, oh, about 25 years.) Great clue for UMPED: [Worked at home?]. Constructor alert! I've seen ID TAG(S) about four times this month, and I've grown tired of it. Okay, so it's better than IDENT or RETAG, but still.


Harvey Estes' CrosSynergy crossword's a tribute to Jack Palance and his movies/characters. Now, the only Palance movie I've ever seen is City Slickers, but another answer was handed to me by a post in the NYT forum yesterday. Serendipity!

Norma Steinberg's LA Times puzzle was light and easy, plus it's got OBAMA in the grid.