March 09, 2007

Saturday, 3/10

LAT 8:09
NYT 7:22
Newsday 4:10
CS 2:59

You know how so many themeless puzzles contain a few iffy words, a few compromises that may have been necessary in order to facilitate the good stuff? I suppose iffiness is in the eye of the beholder, but my eyes beheld none of those crappy trade-off entries in Patrick Berry's NYT crossword. All I see is good stuff, hiding behind super-smooth clues.

Patrick's puzzle is anchored by two 15-letter entries that aren't crossed by a single 3-letter word (and the whole grid contains just six 3's). I sure as heck didn't recall the title of the Laurel and Hardy movie, SONS OF THE DESERT (special fondness: my sister's name is Laurel, which left me to be Hardy). Maybe I haven't had truly good SWEET POTATO PIES, but I don't care for them (chocolate and fruit are far superior to tubers when it comes to making desserts). I started off at 1-Across and -Down with a pair of wrong answers: the Disney title character isn't BELLE, it's SIMBA (The Lion King); and [Pickles] isn't BRINES, it's SOUSES.

My favorite clues (and there are many): [Small drawing?] for PUFF; [Nikola Tesla, for one] for SERB; [Information for the record] for LINER NOTES; [Becomes an issue] for ARISES; [Flip alternative] for PAGEBOY; [Coat hangers-on] for FLEAS; [It's often underfoot] for INSOLE; [What many Latter-day Saints are] for UTAHANS (not MORMONS!); [Female bacchanalian] for MAENAD (great word!); [Follows a course] for GOLFS; [Scuzz] for SMUT (see under synonyms for "feculence")

My favorite entries not already mentioned: the neighboring PEPCID and LAO TZU; PFENNIGS ([Divisions of a mark]); MAD DOCTOR; the RAMONES; and PONIARDS. MAINFRAMES was clued as ["Big iron," in hacker slang]—doesn't ring any bells with me, but I'll take Patrick and Will's word for it. Also, [Radio's "___ American Life"] could have been rendered trickier as [Showtime's "___ American Life"]—Ira Glass's radio show is making the leap to pay cable. (We don't have Showtime, alas.)