January 02, 2007

Wednesday, 1/3

NYS 4:48
Tausig 4:14
Onion 4:11
NYT 3:30
LAT 3:38
CS 2:35

Goodness gracious, how did it get to be 2007 already? Isn't it, like, still 1998? Do I need to stockpile beans and bottled water for Y2K?

The NYT crossword by Kim Seidl (a debut, I think) has one of those themes that took me a few rereadings to make sense out of. Eventually I reinterpreted the first words as game equipment: you've got your Monopoly TOKENs, a DIE or two, a violent chess PAWN, and MARBLEs. Oh, how I loved marbles when I was a kid. Not playing the game by that name—I loved those little swirly glass balls. (No surprise to hear that I collect glass paperweights, eh?) You know what I liked about this crossword aside from the keep-me-guessing theme? The Scrabbly letters (Z, X, and J action), the 8- and 9-letter words crossing the theme entries, and the FIJI/FATWA/Soup NAZI progression.

Deb Amlen's Onion A.V. Club crossword, "Military Fatigue," is fresh, fresh, fresh. I really liked the theme despite the fact that the term CORPORAL OATH was utterly unfamiliar to me; apparently it's an oath taken while touching the corporal. No, not Corporal Klinger—the third definition of corporal, a cloth on which consecrated doohickeys are placed. Favorite entries and clues: [Chilly powder] for SNOW, the BLUE PILL from The Matrix, CRAPS OUT, [They may work with drips] for RNS, MOJO, OTHELLO clued as the game, WOMAN'S touch, [Command to a kindergartner] for SHARE, and WHAT THE. Those last two are linked, for me—we've taught our son to say things like "What the…" and "What the heck," and his kindergarten and first-grade classmates always want to rat him out to the teacher for saying those bad words.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "Air Supplies," steals a theme out of the SKYMALL CATALOG, which any air traveler knows is a ripe source of mockable cheesiness. Ben did not include the classic hot-dog-and-bun warming machine, but did cite the PET STROLLER (there are two kinds to choose from!), ANIMATRONIC / CHIMP BUST, and MARSHMALLOW GUN. (Alas, no links because either skymall.com is woefully slow or it's not designed to work smoothly with my browser.) Favorite entries: GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan (he and RZA were deliciously droll in that Jarmusch picture, Coffee and Cigarettes), the balanced ARE**A pair (ARETHA and AREOLA), [One preceder] for TWELVE, and SPAMMER.

Sean O.F. Smith's Sun puzzle is called "Singular Sensations," and it reinterprets the last word in four phrases as if they were plurals (which cheese, lox, tax, and breeze are not) and singularizes them (into QI, LOCK, TACK, and BRIE). My husband once had a boss who gave him a copy of that Who Moved My Cheese? book (a cheesy management thang), so WHO MOVED MY QI amused me. Now, I bought the pseudo-plural of BAGEL AND LOCK this afternoon, but I don't get the clue. How [What you need in order to be sure you'll have something to put your cream cheese on?] work here? Why a LOCK, exactly? Shiniest new entry: KETEL ONE, the trendy Dutch wheat-based vodka distilled in an alembic.