April 23, 2007

Tuesday, 4/24

Tues NYS 4:17
LAT 3:28
Mon NYS 3:02
NYT 2:58
CS 2:47
Tausig tba
Onion tba

(first update, 8:50 a.m. Tuesday)

• It's my son's birthday tomorrow, and we haven't started wrapping his presents yet. Hmm, maybe in the morning while he's at school? Not in the mood to wrap now.

• Speaking of birthdays, happy birthday to not one but two pals who are crossword constructors. Am hoping there is a powerful zodiacal tug that encourages those born on April 24 to be cruciverbally inclined, because nobody ever sings songs that say, "Mamas, don't let your boys grow up to be crossword constructors."

• Received two advance copies of Ben Tausig's book, Mad Tausig vs the Interplanetary Puzzling Peace Patrol: A Fiendishly Fun Puzzle and Mystery Book for Kids. Will send one to a smart 10-year-old nephew, and will dither about the recipient of the other copy long enough for my 7-year-old to beg me to let him keep it (so far, he doesn't evince much interest in puzzles). The book's got crosswords, anagram puzzles, an acrostic, a picture sudoku, and other pencil puzzles aimed at (according to Amazon) 9- to 12-year-olds, and there's sort of a propulsive storyline that urges kids to work their way through all the puzzles to crack the code.

• Ellen Ripstein sent me a link to the contestant application for the upcoming game show, Let's Do Crosswords. The show's slated to be taped here in Chicago. Anyone know anyone who's working on the show?

Wife Swap is also looking for a crossword family (!) to appear on their show. If you're a crossword nut with a spouse or cohabiting partner and at least one kid aged 6 to 18, and you'd love a chance to open up your family's lifestyle to critical inspection on national TV, this could be your big chance! Just think: If you got to be the traveling wife, you'd have the opportunity to make somebody else's kids...do crosswords.

And now, the crosswords. The Tuesday NYT is by Brendan Emmett Quigley. The theme is "famous men with *ZZY first names" so it's super-Scrabbly, with two names from sports (DIZZY DEAN and FUZZY ZOELLER) and two from music (OZZY OSBOURNE and D.J. JAZZY JEFF of "Parents Just Don't Understand" fame). If those Z's weren't enough, there's also a double-X word (EXXON) in the fill. TZAR (clued as [Russian autocrat: Var.]) pops up here, as a rare exception to the "it's always gonna be TSAR" rule of thumb in crosswords; the more standard spelling, CZAR, appears in crosswords much less than TSAR but far more than TZAR. (Yes, that's the sort of hard-hitting research I did while working on How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.) You know who would use the term SISSY or [Girlie man]? BOORS and other [Rude sorts]. (Hate that sort of mockery, insulting men by likening them to women, implying that that's a bad thing and urging boys and men to instead be macho nitwits.) Not much else to say about this Tuesday puzzzzzzzzle, is there?

It would appear that the neocon newspaper the New York Sun is so keen on celebrating William Shakespeare's birthday, they didn't get around to posting the week's crosswords on Monday. When they're up, I'll do the Monday and Tuesday puzzles. Fortunately, the Sun's themeless puzzles arrive late in the week, or I'd be awfully antsy on a Sunless Monday.


Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle goes geographic with five different seas alluded to in the theme entries. Have I mentioned that I enjoy geography themes? I have, and I do. Not crazy about [Had problems with a shylock, perhaps] for OWED; is it necessary to evoke a touch of anti-Semitism in a crossword clue? It is not.

David Kahn's LA Times puzzle is akin to his CHRISTMAS CAROL puzzle that ran in the New York Times on December 21, 2005—the one that filled an entire grid using only the 10 letters in that theme entry, and that had several pertinent theme entries that followed the alphabetical limitation. Kahn's done it again, using only nine different letters (though it's got to be easier to fill the grid when one of the nine is an E). Each of the two 15's intersects with 9- and 7-letter theme entries. The honoree of the puzzle has a birthday today, too. (Birthdays everywhere!)


The Monday Sun crossword by Pancho Harrison, "R&B Singles," has a terrific and subtle theme with seven representatives (four Downs and three Acrosses, clues marked with asterisks). I won't give it away here, but if you don't grasp the theme quickly, note the crossword's title; this site (with sound—don't click the link with your speakers turned up loud) should give you a huge hint. I liked the fill, too, particularly those two words with a double-A that intersect...but not at an A.

Kelsey Blakley's 15x16 Tuesday Sun, "Books That Aren't Spaced Out," condenses three book titles by squeezing the initial A into the word that follows. Aptly, A Bridge Too Far becomes ABRIDGE TOO FAR. That title's both a book and a movie. I had Shel Silverstein's wordplay-ridden poetry book, A Light in the Attic, when I was a kid. And I'd never heard of A Rose in Winter. Know why? It's a romance novel, and I haven't read one of those in over 20 years. You can read an excerpt here. The sports clue about the Jets referred to the WINNIPEG Jets, the NHL team that moved to Arizona, scarcely a hockey hotbed.