May 22, 2007

Wednesday, 5/23

NYT 5:04
LAT 4:02
NYS 4:01
CS 3:01

(updated at 9:35 a.m. Wednesday)

Crossword blogger meet-up alert! Barry Weprin will be in town Thursday and we'll meet for lunch. And yes, we'll talk about you. So if your ears are burning, you'll know why.

On the fame and fortune front, I'm awaiting a call from a photographer who will take my portrait for an upcoming issue of my college alumni magazine. A publicist for St. Martin's Press has sent out galleys of my book to a bunch of newspapers and magazines.

All right, just a few more minutes 'til NYT launch time. One more paragraph to keep me awake until then (and I've already written the paragraph about the Sun crossword). You know how much merriment and pain we can wring out of bad signs? There was a drawing on a sign above the toilet in our bathroom in Peckforton Castle that illustrated the things one should not flush, including a comb, Q-tip, plastic bottle, condom, tampon, and syringe. That's right: Junkies are kindly requested to dispose of their works in the wastebasket. (Have you ever thought to flush a comb? I thought not.) Some sign-makers like to use quotation marks to call extra attention to certain phrases, bastardizing the quotation marks in the process. There's actually a blog devoted to documenting such signs photographically: the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks. Enjoy the snark.

Well, last night it took me about 30 seconds to find my typo in the NYT applet. Tonight, about 90 seconds. My brain is flagging because it's 3 a.m. in London, darn it, and I should be sleeping. Today's typos involved some N confusion, with STRETCN crossing those helpful NINTS and COULDN'T in the theme quote repeatedly coming out as COULND'T. The shame is that a handful of crossings let me figure out the last two parts of the quote lickety-split, but a case of typo madness destroyed me.'s a funnyish quip (original or borrowed joke? It's I TRIED TO BUY / A CAMOUFLAGE SUIT / BUT I COULDN'T FIND / ONE ANYWHERE) from Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke. Bits of the fill resonate. HOLY COW? Yes, so NO MEAT, please. Instead, a BANANA. ASCOTS and a watch FOB are old-school fashion (and there was an American guy at the wedding I attended in England who wore a dark orange ascot to the reception; says he likes the feel of silk). AMY makes it into another puzzle, but REX must be satisfied with being the T REX dinosaur. I've seen a zillion clues for ESAU over the years, but don't recall seeing [Biblical "hairy one"] before.

Steven Ginzburg's Sun puzzle is called "You and I Must Intervene!" because WE force our way into each theme entry. The pinnacle was [One who has roasts without hosts], an MC ESCHEWER. (In the mood to look at some M.C. Escher drawings now? Check out the Picture Gallery links here. Don't get too dizzy to come back, though. I nearly hypnotized myself over there.) Other high points: juicy fill like CORNBALL (Googling "cornball humor" turned up this clip of Chris Elliott giving a dramatic reading of Elton John's "Rocket Man," which I wouldn't consider cornball. William Shatner's version isn't either, and it's far awesomer than Chris Elliott's Shatnerian ripoff.), the JOB CORPS, SNOW DAY, and WISE TO, and a couple rather vague clues that made me work for the answers, [Profession] for AVOWAL and [Locale of rapid development] for WOMB.



Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy puzzle, "See You in Court," has four theme entries that begin with judicial terms (HEARING, TRIAL, SUIT, and CASE). We saw plenty of SUITs OF ARMOR at the Tower of London. The best one belonged to Henry VIII. You can't see it all that clearly in the picture here, but there's a larger-than-life metal codpiece jutting forward. (None of the other armor on display had that feature.)

In the LA Times, Dan Naddor serves up a theme with four 11s and four 8s all tied together by the 7-letter word (KEEPERS) that can follow the last word in each of the other eight theme entries. Despite the abundance of theme squares, the fill didn't strike me as particularly forced or clunky (not amazing fill, but not bad either). We end up with these words before KEEPERS: GREENS, GATE, BOOK, FINDERS ("Finders keepers! Losers weepers!"), GROUNDS, HOUSE, TIME, and GOAL. A crossword in which just four of these entries appeared would be lackluster, but to include eight plus the unifying KEEPERS? Much better. I would be remiss not to mention Groundskeeper Willie. While in England, we happened to catch the Simpsons episode in which Willie stripped off his shirt and said, "Grease me up, woman!" to the lunch lady so that he might slither through the air ducts and catch the Simpsons' dog, Santa's Helper.