April 30, 2007

Tuesday, 5/1

Onion 4:58
Tausig 4:47
NYS 4:08
NYT 3:48
LAT 3:00
CS 2:41

first update: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday; secondL 8:25 p.m.)

Mayday! Mayday! The May 1 Times crossword is labeled as a Tuesday puzzle but feels more like a Wednesday. Co Crocker and Nancy Salomon have wrought a crossword that's all about BENDING THE RULES. Now, it follows the rules of size, word count, and grid symmetry, but the theme entries aren't clued. They appear in the circled squares and each one is a kind of rule that is bent in the grid, wherein it travels both across and down. We've got GROUND rules, HOME rule, the GOLDEN Rule, HOUSE rules, a GENERAL rule, and a quaint SLIDE rule. The best zone of the puzzle is where two rules take up parts of GROUCHO MARX, and the iffiest is GOLDFIELD. Sure, it's a completely valid word and gettable even if you haven't used the word, but it's dry and somehow evokes the name Gilbert Gottfried in my untidy brain. Favorite bits: [Like some relations] for SEXUAL; the [Order in the court], ALL RISE; GHOULISH; [What Alabama cheerleaders say to "gimme" four times] salvaging the entry, AN A; The GONG Show reference; WUSS clued with the gender-neutral (per the dictionary) [Milquetoast]; and BURB.

Joy Andrews' Sun puzzle, "Artoo," adds an -AR to the end of five lively phrases: DIET PILL, DR J, POP-TART, CAROL ALT, and RAG DOLL. My favorite parts of this puzzle: NO CONTEST; BEN GURION; CAJUN crossing JUNTA; and [They have shins on only one side] for DREIDELS. The very best entry in my book is ATALANTA, not because of the myth but because of the beloved feminist retelling from Free to Be...You and Me (link is to a YouTube clip of that). And yes, I own the DVD.


Harvey Estes' CrosSynergy theme, "They Have Eyes But Do Not See," is fairly basic but feels fresh. Lots of longer fill entries, including the cat's NINE LIVES crossing PLAY MONEY and assorted phrasal verbs (DROPS IN ON, HAMMER AT, DOTE UPON, SPOKE FOR), enhance the solving experience. Plus, I'm always a sucker for a Love Boat clue.

I learned from Doug Peterson's LA Times puzzle that bees don't eat only nectar—they also eat POLLEN and feed it to baby bees. Do you know how nectar is converted into honey? That link says the worker bees hold nectar on their tongues until the water evaporates, leaving behind honey that they store in the hive. May I just say: Eww. The rhyming theme entries are accompanied by a fair number of those seldom-seen-outside-of-crosswords-or-specialized-discourse words, such as OTHO, ABLARE, LETT, and OMSK. They're offset by ZEPHYR, the mythical SIREN and AMAZON, and assorted Scrabbliness.

Second update:

Will be quick with these last two (honest!) because it's almost time for a new round of blogging.

I just did Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "Back Country," and have no idea what the theme is. Let's take a look: Ah, there they are. Backwards countries (which is not to say the societies are backwards) are embedded within five entries. RUN A RISK and HEAT LAMP hide Iran and Malta, Peru lurks amid PRESSURE POINT, and WAYBILLS and NINEBALL have Libya and Benin. Are there any others I missed? Yay, geography theme! I wish I'd figured it out while I was solving, but I kinda paid no mind to the puzzle's title.

Ah, Deb Amlen's Onion A.V. Club puzzle posits a familiarity with American Idol. Hey, I was glued to the screen for a couple seasons of it, and have halfway followed the current season. Fun theme! Technically, I think 3-Down should be I LIKE YOU, BUT.... Very much enjoyed this puzzle. Choice morsels: [It's a black thing] for ASSET opposite [It may be white] for NOISE; ["Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice ___ AGIN" (#1 hit of 1970)] for ELF; the so-Oniony ["___ man"] for AREA; [Book reviewer, briefly] for CPA; [Cornelius and Zira, e.g.] for APES; and [___ people] for POD.