June 29, 2007

Saturday, 6/30

Newsday 13:10
NYT 7:31
LAT 6:25
CS 2:59

(updated at 10:15 a.m. Saturday)

Do you know anyone who craves jewelry that evokes recurrent crossword fill? If so, you're in luck! Here are some Oreo earrings. Sadly, that website offered no jewelry with oleo or erne motifs.

Oh—if you don't read the NYT Today's Puzzle forum and you like to track down the Across Lite version of the Boston Globe crossword early, here's a link for Henry Hook's Globe puzzle. I haven't looked at it yet, but people have already praised it.

Nothing like a killer clue at 1-Across to kick a crossword into high gear! In the Saturday NYT puzzle crafted by Byron Walden, I drew a complete blank on [Where to find the Mercury line and the Girdle of Venus]. The moon? No. The PALM. The tree? No. The PALM of the hand, where those are lesser lines that not everyone has (I have neither). I'd say the deadly 1-Across anchors the puzzle more solidly in the Waldenesque oeuvre than the 15-letter entry across the middle, SOW ONE'S WILD OATS. (This puzzle is also sure to lower your cholesterol with the soluble fiber in that and in OATY—one of those inadvertent duplications, but good for one's health.) Not that the whole puzzle is deadly, but Byron does have a reputation to uphold. Speaking of uphold, there are three adjacent Down entries starting with U: URBAN, UP LATE, and UGLY SCENES. I didn't know the phrase GIGGLE TEST—if you didn't either, read that link from wordspy.com. Clues and fill I liked, from the top down: [Small wonders] for GIFTED KIDS; [Dirt] for INSIDE INFO; [Alley oops] (as in an oops in a bowling alley) for GUTTER BALL; [D-Ray, e.g.] for ALER, because it taught me that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are nicknamed the D-Rays; [Kind of service] for YEOMAN; the linked HWY and U.S. ROUTE; the DARK / ARTS pairing (apt in this season of Harry Potter mania); ALCOHOL BAN clued as [It can keep a ballfield dry]; [Squelch] for KIBOSH; [Does the math] for SOLVES; regular fill-in-the-blank clue river AMU DARYA with both parts intact; TATER TOT (unrelated to GIFTED KIDS); and the alphabet soup of F-STAR, D-FLATS, O'TOOLE, U.S. ROUTE, and D'ABO. Other unknowns besides palmistry: AMARILLO in a George Strait song; [Polaris or Procyon] for F-STAR (I've found that unknown sciencey names in Byron's puzzles tend to be some sort of star); IL POSTO for the 1961 film; Prince OLAV Mountains; quotes from the book OMOO and the person PASCAL; and [The river Pison flowed from it] for EDEN. Fortunately, none of their crossings were deadly for me.


More themeless action: Doug Peterson's LA Times crossword and Stan Newman's Newsday Saturday Stumper.

Stan's Stumper did indeed stump me more than most crosswords. I was perilously close to putting the puzzle aside and coming back to it later with a clear head. Yes, that's standard advice for crossword solvers who get stuck, but it is anathema to the speed solver who wants to open up a can of whoop-ass on the crossword. I stuck with it, though, and emerged triumphant, if bruised. If you've tackled this crossword, was your experience like mine, or did you breeze through it and you're wondering what on earth my problem was? I mean, it all looks rather reasonable to me now, though mighty low on gimmes and obvious clues. I thought ['20s Hollywood idol] was easy enough, with a couple crossings filled in in a 9-letter space—but there are at least four old-timey Hollywood actresses known to me strictly via crosswords who have 9-letter names. Four!

The LA Times had a few obscurities. [Country singer England, et al.] for TYS? I know Ty Cobb and Ty Whathisname from that mawkish "Extreme Home Makeover" show—Ty Pennington. [Medieval crossbows] for ARBALESTS? Ouch. [___-up: gymnastics move] for KIP? Never heard of it. Am I alone? Raise your hand if you knew all three of these. Interesting grid layout, though, with the four 15-letter entries splitting the grid into the Brady Bunch opening grid.