December 12, 2006

Wednesday, 12/13

NYS 4:42
NYT 4:12
LAT 3:29
CS 3:11

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

Both Dave Sullivan's NYT crossword and the Sun puzzle by Donna Levin are highlighted by some nifty fill, particularly in the 8- to 10-letter length. The themes are divergent—in Dave's puzzle, he españolizes the theme entries by adding an O, as in POLLO QUESTION, clued as ["Why did the chicken cross the road?," e.g., in Tijuana?] (but oy, who put the comma between the question mark and quotation mark?). I especially liked ACE VENTURA, YEAH YOU (which happens to be a memorable line from Sixteen Candles), CRITIQUE, and PEDICURE. I didn't know what BEE BALM was, but learned via Wikipedia that it's related to fragrant bergamot (but not the self-same bergamot that's in Earl Grey tea). I learned a new celeb name—ESSIE Davis, an Aussie actress who played Maggie in the Matrix sequels that I didn't see.

The other day, I was pondering why AT THE COPACABANA hadn't been used as a 15. Probably because the song doesn't much use those exact words in that sequence, eh? But the next best thing (or really, a better thing) is to pay homage to that with Donna Levin's COBRA CABANA, [Changing room for a snake?], in her "In Cold Blood" crossword. No Capote, but a COBRA, NEWT, IGUANA, and BOA. My favorite fill entry was LOU RAWLS, mainly because I don't know chess notation and figured it was LAURA somebody until that second L finally filled itself in and made me reparse the word break. CASHMERE is soft, but a DUNCE CAPmakes you want to skulk off and be CURLED UP somewhere. A Gordon-friendly clue for PALAU is the trivially educational [Pacific Ocean nation whose largest island is Babelthuap]—I do like those little learning opportunities that pop up in crosswords.


If you like old comic books (or new stories continuing old comic books, don't miss Paula Gamache's LA Times puzzle today. And if you enjoy anagram-based themes, try Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy crossword, "Teams' Mates."