June 04, 2007

Tuesday, 6/5

NYS 3:58
LAT 3:33
NYT 3:31
CS 3:10
Onion tba
Tausig tba

(updated at 8:40 a.m. Tuesday)

Lexicographer Erin McKean left a comment on yesterday's post alerting me to a New Word Open Mic event on June 16 in Chicago. It's part of the Dictionary Society of North America meeting, and it offers people the opportunity to present a new word to the dictionary arbiters to see if they like it. Me, I'm stumping for hangry, which is aptly described here and has even been used in the New York Times (that's where I first saw it—and recognized its amazing relevance). Hell, I packed a couple Ziplocs of nuts and dried fruit bits when I went to the crossword tournament just in case I found myself getting hangry. If you don't grasp why the language needs a word that combines "hungry" and "angry," consider yourself lucky. If, on the other hand, you've ever lost your grip because you needed to eat something, you have an innate understanding of hangry and should embrace this useful word.

The Tuesday New York Sun crossword is Sean O.F. Smith's "Turning Tail." The four theme entries end with a flipflopped word: e.g., the Big Bad Wolf becomes [What resulted from a levee collapse?], or BIG BAD FLOW. (Hmm, hints of Katrina and New Orleans. Probably not the intent.) "Love me, love my dog" turns into the [Prenup demandfrom someone with strong religious convictions], LOVE ME, LOVE MY GOD, which amuses me. The Itsy-Bitsy Spider becomes ITSY-BITSY REDIPS of salsa (Googling "redips" summoned up this head-twisting backwards Google results page for a "namredips" search). Other highlights: the word AGITA, which I like; [Fast and loose, for example] as the clue for ANTONYMS; I ROBOT; the TARHEELS (See? Not all college basketball clues vex me); and DABBLE, just because I like the word.

The New York Times crossword by Barry Silk is harder than the typical Tuesday puzzle. Why? The LEADER OF THE PACK theme is a little circuitous—one doesn't generally think of cigarette packs in that context, so the MARLBORO MAN is unexpected here. Also, there's a lot of fill that isn't what we usually see in early-week puzzles. For example, J.S. BACH; the Italian FIORI and Spanish MALO; brand-name NO-DOZ and RC COLA (and MOBIL, and REEBOK); sort of awkward OLD PAL, CUE TIP, and LEFT BE; variant spelling SLUFFED; abbreviation JATO (jet-assisted takeoff); tech-speak HOTKEY; and plenty of proper names (I love pop culture, yes, but don't know INEZ Foxx; crossword denizens CLU, UTA, ARLO, and EMO are here; anti-pop-culture fogeys may be stymied by RIO, TUPAC, NICO, and the HOSPITAL where House takes place). (The ones that slowed me down the most were the phrases in the awkward category.) I suspect the confident Monday and Tuesday solvers who don't always venture to Wednesday and beyond found this one to be more challenging than expected for a Tuesday puzzle. Which is not to say that I disliked the puzzle—the awkward bits elevated a single eyebrow, and I do grumble when crosswords are too easy—but it's not what I'd expect on a Tuesday. On the other hand, what I expect on a Tuesday is a lot more common, boring words with clues we've seen a zillion times, so it's refreshing to have a sort of oddball puzzle like this one.

First update:

Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Stock Splits," has a smattering of unrelated geographic fill (yay) and a couple great pop-culture names: K.D. LANG (whose name I capitalize only because it's crossword fill—she prefers k.d. lang) and HULK HOGAN. I have no further recommendations relating to Hulk Hogan, but one of my all-time favorite albums is k.d. lang's All You Can Eat. If you like torch songs and love songs, check out this 1995 release.

Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's LA Times puzzle has the Alice of crossword themes: each theme entry contains a type of domestic employee. The COOK, MAID, NANNY, and VALET are all here, but the butler, pool boy, and gardener must have the day off.