April 02, 2007

Tuesday, 4/3

Onion 6:30
NYS 4:27
Tausig 4:24
NYT 3:03
LAT 2:52
CS 2:49

(updated at 9:40 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Tues.)

You know what David Quarfoot and Mike Nothnagel's NYT crossword has in common with Randolph Ross's NY Sun puzzle, "Rearranging the Furniture"? It's not their themes. It's the inclusion of three Z's, an X, and a Q in each. Yes, that's rather random, but still.

Ross's Sun scrambles up some furniture so that a sleeper sofa becomes SLEEPER OAFS, or [Sluggish lugs], for example. (Alas, no carnally literate BOOK FLESH in the middle here.) The last Across answer here was [Dungeons & Dragons coinventor Gary]. Me, I had to work out the answer via the crossings. After I finished the puzzle, I asked my husband, "Who was the coinventor of Dungeons & Dragons, Ga..."—"Gary Gygax," he replied in a trice. Wow. I just learned something a little scary about my husband. I mean, I'd known he played some D&D in his youth, but still.

In the NYT crossword, double the young constructors = double the theme entries. Which means there's still a standard number of theme entries (three), but their contents are doubled. The [Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte double feature?] is NINETY-SIX HOURS, double 48 Hrs. (which, it pains me to note, is officially not spelled out as Forty-Eight Hours). [George Clooney/Brad Pitt double feature?] is OCEANS TWENTY-TWO. [Jessica Alba/Chris Evans double feature?] is FANTASTIC EIGHT. I enjoyed the theme, and wish the makers of 48 Hrs. had opted to at least spell out the word Hours in the movie's title. Best clue/entry: [Bar exam subject?] for MIXOLOGY.


Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy offering, "Television Twosomes," has a fun pop-culture theme.

The LA Times puzzle was constructed by Jeff Armstrong, who (I think) is the Jeff A who comments at this blog. The theme entries tell a tale of financial excess, and they rhyme! I don't know that I've seen a similar sort of theme before. Props to Jeff for using the hot (albeit woefully spelled) Motorola RAZR phone in the fill.

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Onion A.V. Club puzzle had me for breakfast. First off, it's a quote puzzle. Second, it's a quote from IRON MIKE TYSON, whose utterances I do not follow closely. Third, the quote's got GONNA in it, which isn't in most crossword quotes. (The punchline's payoff is good, though.) Fourth, the clues and fill were kinda tough. [Baja burner] is el SOL; [Stuck (on)] is FIXATING; [Get comfortable] is SIT BACK; [Sweet snacks] are DAINTIES (who says this?!?); [Vermont ski area] is PICO (huh?)m which is next to ATAT from The Empire Strikes Back (huh?); [South Beach, e.g.] is DIET; there was a [Soviet cosmonaut Gherman] named TITOV; and the theme song from TAXI was called "Angela." Fortunately, Entertainment Weekly (just renewed my subscription yesterday!) raved about Neon Bible, so ARCADE FIRE wasn't completely mysterious to me (though I have no idea what their music sounds like). Extra bonus points for Scrabbly letters, such as the X in the lovely FLUMMOXING.

Will solve and blog about Ben Tausig's puzzle later.

It's later now:

Ben Tausig's Chicago Reader/Ink Well puzzle, "Clean Swap," inverts some cleaning chores. Strips the beds? Boring. BEDS THE STRIP? Now you're talking. Plenty of very good fill in this grid (ARTICHOKE and CHAMELEON, for example). If you wondered what sort of music OUTHUD produced, maybe the Village Voice can clear it up: "a breezy and joyous pileup of chiffon synthpop and twerked-up Chicago house with enough effortlessly chilly gum-snap sass that a Neneh Cherry reference wouldn't be altogether out of the question." (And people complain about pop culture in the NYT crossword! The sort of pop culture that ends up there is so incredibly broad. If one chooses to live under a rock...with no TV...never reading anything about pop culture...then yes, the NYT crossword might be deemed unbearably lowbrow and trendy.) Never heard of TSORO, which turns out to be akin to mancala.