January 24, 2007

Thursday, 1/25

NYS 5:45
NYT 5:10
LAT 3:48
CS 2:51

(post updated at 9:15 a.m. Thursday)

If my upcoming book is currently listed on Amazon with Will Shortz's byline instead of mine, is it too soon to post the link?

Sheesh, I really lose steam when I do crosswords on the New York schedule (at 10 p.m.) rather than with the Central Time advantage (promptly at 9 p.m.). That extra hour is when my neurons start to cuddle up together and rest their eyes. So it is that I will give short shrift to two good puzzles.

The Thursday NYT is by Manny Nosowsky, and it gave me trouble. First off, EARTH REENTRY, when enclosed in quotes and Googlified, garners only about 1,000 hits, which explains why that answer was slow to emerge from the grid. If the space shuttle were reentering earth like a sperm enters an ovum, that'd be one thing, but I think of it as reentering the earth's atmosphere. EVEN-MONEY CHANCE also battled its way out, letter by letter; "even money," I'm familiar with, but the phrase "even-money chance" gets less (special word for Howard and Michael) than 700 Google hits. I'd never heard of the Moyers speech, "The FIGHT OF OUR LIVES," either. The easiest of the theme entries, for me, was NOT WORTH A SOU, thanks to old crossword regular SOU (and its cousin, ECU). I do find it amusing that "not worth a sou" gets a mere 140 or so Google hits! The dime, nickel, cent, and buck all outpoll the sou, but I like the sou. Anyway, these theme entries contain ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR embeds, and that string of numbers occupies a vertical 15-letter entry crossing the other four theme entries. So that's neat, even if the specific phrases containing the hidden numbers vexed me. Plenty of vague clues for shortish answers: [Head] for JOHN, [Go against] for BUCK, [Chinese thought] for MAOISM (which shares 5 letters with TAOISM), and the ONLY/DULY pair clued with [As recently as]/[As required]. Favorite clue: [Wet bar?] for SOAP.

Doug Peterson packed a slew of great stuff into his Themeless Thursday crossword in the Sun. DWARF PLANET has shown up in a lot of clues in recent months, but here it stars at 1-Across. Doug doubles up on Italian with LUIGI PIRANDELLO and CHIAROSCURO, throws in a Traceyesque capital (DAR ES SALAAM, which was named by the Sultan of Zanzibar and where you can find Zanzibari restaurants), and includes the first name for an artist with a quasi-crosswordese last name (MAX ERNST). Best-loved clues: [Teens, for example] for CARDINAL NUMBERS, [See stars?] for PONTIFFS, [Eldritch] as an old, old word for EERIE, [Part of WWJD] for WHAT (right after a Roman numeral clue asking for a fraction of MMMDV...My Mother's Maid Doesn't Vacuum?), [Has kittens, so to speak] for ERUPTS, [Some toy inserts] for C BATTERIES, and [Vexillology subject] for FLAG (say "yo" if you studied the "flags of the world" article in the encyclopedia when you were a kid).

Huh. I guess I didn't exactly skimp on the posting after all.


In Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword, the theme entries are all the words running around the perimeter of the grid, tied together with a central BORDER / GUARDS (the words around the puzzle's border can all be followed by guard; e.g., SPLASH [GUARD], BODY[GUARD], and RED [GUARD]). The fill is surprisingly smooth for a puzzle with 58 theme squares blocking off the edges and middle of the grid.

Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle features a WOODY / ALLEN quip. If you overlook symmetry and read the line immediately below Part 3 as if it were Part 4, you'd get this: MY ONLY REGRET IN / LIFE IS / THAT I'M / AN ASS.