January 23, 2007

Wednesday, 1/24

Onion 4:58
Tausig 4:54
NYS 4:25
NYT 4:19
LAT 3:29
CS 2:34

(post updated a tad at 8:40 a.m. Wednesday)

I didn’t get a chance to do the indie crosswords Tuesday afternoon, so I’m plumb tuckered out from doing four crosswords (Wednesday’s NYT and Sun, plus the Onion A.V. Club and Tausig/Ink Well puzzles) and blogging about them this evening. It’s not so much that I’m a morning person—just that I’m not much of a night owl.

When I finished Gary Steinmehl’s NYT crossword, the burning question on my mind was, "Who the hell is PIE TRAYNOR?" Turns out he was a swell baseball player from 1920 to 1937 and “received his nickname for a fondness for eating pie.” The theme entries all start with words that are also desserts in other contexts; my cousin can TRIFLE WITH a trifle made of chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, fresh raspberries, and whipped cream. (Yum.) NAPOLEON SOLO is a name I know only from crosswords, and now Pie Traynor joins him.

Byron Walden’s Onion A.V. Club crossword flipflops five names from the arenas of politics and blowharding in a lively theme that somehow eluded me even after I had several of the last-names-first filled in. (It was Rush Limbaugh’s pharmaceutical misadventures that finally tipped me off.) Hey, raise your hand if you’d heard of PAPAYAS’ contraceptive properties before (and look, OVUM and UTERO appear in the same puzzle). I would’ve mentioned root beer in a clue for BURPY; that word reminds me of this juvenile little video of flatulent dinosaurs (don’t have the speakers turned up loud if you’re at work). [Former Swank playmate] sounds like porn, but it’s just poor Chad LOWE. There’s also a YUTZ, which is YIDDISH; this informal reference about Yiddish is a fun diversion.

Roger DePont (a.k.a. Peter Gordon) has another of his annual OSCARS puzzles featuring the five films nominated for Best Picture (and don’t forget: the nominations were announced Tuesday morning and the puzzle was posted by Tuesday evening. Speedy delivery!) Given their disparate letter counts, the titles are split up into 3- to 8-letter pieces, all plunked into a symmetrical set of squares in the grid. (So maybe it’s for the best that Dreamgirls was snubbed?) Aside from the movies, I liked seeing PASHMINA in the fill, and [Boot’s opposite end] as a clue for BONNET. (When my VW’s trunk is open, the dashboard tells me “bootlid is open,” and I can’t tell you how charming I find that. Sometimes the car also advises me to “top up wash fluid.”)

Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle for this week is the tattoo-themed “Needle Work.” Plenty of entertaining clues here: [Someone with free junk?] is a NUDIST; [Adults score them for HS students] means SATS, not beers; and [Parliament style] is P-FUNK (I was thinking of plain ol’ FUNK, one letter shy). I learned a new 3-letter abbreviation—[Google Earth mapping syst.] is GIS, which means geographic information system. The [Insect with pincers] made me cringe. Know what’s worse than an EARWIG? A centipede. Or a scorpion. I had to check on the genus and species names for a couple scorpion varieties for a paper I was editing last week, and just reading about them gave me the willies.


Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle echoes Ben Tausig's puzzle with one great clue: [Run out of clothes?] is STREAK.