May 30, 2007

Thursday, 5/31

NYT 5:16
CS 4:35
LAT 4:22
NYS 4:05

(updated at 7:20 a.m. Thursday)

If you long to shape Hollywood's portrayal of crossword constructors, check out the comments on the previous post. The folks who are making All About Steve, a comedy in which Sandra Bullock plays an "eccentric" crossword constructor who stalks a CNN cameraman, want a leg up on figuring out just how eccentric to make Sandra Bullock's abode. (My vote: Crowded bookshelves, stacks of papers, a fat unabridged dictionary.) There's an e-mail address for an art department rep.

I wonder how eccentric today's crossword constructors are? We've got an NYT puzzle from William Stephens and a Sun from David Kahn.

Kahn's byline doesn't seem to pop up much these days, does it? He tends to make ambitious, showy crosswords, so it's fitting that the intersecting 15-letter entries in his Sun Themeless Thursday puzzle fit together as a mini-theme. Favorite clues: [Digital tool] for NAIL FILE; [They help you see better] for RISERS and [It doesn't help you see better] for GLASS EYE; [Jovians, e.g.] for ETS (though these Jovians aren't extraterrestrial); [Responds to "Bottoms up!"?] for MOONS (some people take their mooning seriously); and [Page from old pinup magazines] for BETTIE Page (ah, the obscured-capital-letter trick!). I always like to be reminded of Gustav KLIMT's The Kiss—how Klimt's models get through life with those broken necks, heads lolling perpendicular to the spine, is an inspiration.

The NYT puzzle has one of those Thursday twists that I neglected to suspect, which slowed my progress a bit. The four theme entries go BACK (55-Down) in that they appear backwards, though without BACK as a starting word in each case. ENOERAUQSOT looks like an Inuit word to me, but it's [BACK] TO SQUARE ONE backwards. Not only did I get tied up by the theme, I also drew a blank on most of the clues in the upper left corner. Eventually PRIMO crept out of the shadows and lent a hand. Worst pop-culture tidbit in months: [Burke of TV's "Burke's Law"] for AMOS. A short-lived series I never heard of reprising a show from before my time? Favorite clue: the straightforward [Snuggle in bed, say] for SPOON (which has inspired art both figurative and literal).


Doug Peterson's LA Times puzzle makes sport of terms that could double as apt baseball parks for certain teams. You've heard of the Polo Grounds, so why not COFFEE GROUNDS for where the Brewers play? And let's move the Twins to DOUBLE PARK. Cute theme. Girlfriend/wife alert! J LO is clued here as [Ben's ex-squeeze]. Do you think maybe Hollywood's wealthiest Hispanic performer might've rated a clue referencing her music or film career or her other business ventures? There are plenty of things to choose from. My personal favorite J-Lo work was Out of Sight, in which she's an FBI agent or US marshal tracking down George Clooney's fugitive. Beautiful, stylish film.

Here's Bob Klahn again with a CrosSynergy byline, meaning today's CrosSynergy puzzle is significantly harder than most. If the theme eludes you, look to 59-Down for the explanation. No stand-out clues or answers that knocked me over—just overall tough cluing.