June 19, 2007

Wednesday, 6/20

NYS 4:34
NYT 4:21
Tausig 4:18
CS 4:04
Onion 4:ish (forgot to jot time)
LAT 3:51

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

It's Wednesday, not Thursday, and yet the New York Sun and Times crosswords struck me as a little twisty. Twisty is good! I like twisty. I do wonder if a lot of NYT solvers who don't much venture beyond Wednesday will find themselves mired in Bonnie Gentry and Vic Fleming's puzzle—felt like a Thursday puzzle to me.

I assume the byline is supposed to say Bonnie L. Gentry, but the online versions of the puzzle say "Bobbie L. Gentry." Maybe Bonnie has an evil twin who also collaborates on crossword construction with Vic? Note to NYT staff: Bobbie Gentry is the stage name of someone who had a hit song 40 years ago. She doesn't make crosswords, as far as I know. Bonnie Gentry does. Plus, if you're changing constructor names in bylines now, you should've made Vic into Peggy Fleming. Now that'd be a terrific constructing duo!

Now, where was I? Crosswords, under whatever attribution. I really enjoyed Bonnie and Vic's crossword. It's got a T in each circled square, in the corners of the grid and forming a sort of INNER CIRCLE, a T-SQUARE of Ts in the middle of the grid. T is also a word contained in several other answer phrases, also at the corners of the big square/diamond of Ts (WINGED T formation, CROSS A T, T-MOBILE). That square necessitates quartets of T*T and T***T entries; we get TAT, TIT, TOT, and TUT, but are spared crossword regular TET for a change. You'll note that the letter T is absent from all the unhighlighted squares, too. The halves of jai alai are boring in a crossword, but I like the [Half court game?] clue for JAI here. Also appreciated [Like a band of Amazons] for MANLESS; LOCKS IN an interest rate; Ferris BUELLER (here's a 9.5-minute video clip of good lines from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, including Ben Stein's classic droning of "Bueller? Bueller?"); [Field of unknowns?] for ALGEBRA (not REALITY TV); and ["___ Cheerleaders" (1977 film)] for SATAN'S. Mystery man George PALADE (whom I'd never heard of) won his Medicine Nobel for what he learned about organelles; I wonder if PALATE had originally been in his spot of the grid but was changed to remove an extraneous T. Yeah, this puzzle has some blah bits, like some 3-letter abbreviations (among a slew of 3-letter entries), a couple foreign words, and the suffix ENCE, but it's also got a twisty format, a Q and an X, and more than a dozen long (7+ letters) entries.

The Tuesday NYT had college towns that started with NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, and WEST, whereas Peter Collins' Sun puzzle, "Setting Things Straight," has the four cardinal directions shooting down diagonally from/to the corner squares. The short Down answer in the center crosses a long Across one to instruct the solver to PIVOT / FORTY-FIVE DEGREES to set the directions aright. Most of the entries in this puzzle intersect one of the diagonal directions or the central theme entries, so the fill maybe sparkles a bit less (AFTA, CPUS, EEE) than the usual Sun puzzle, but I find a clever twist atones for such sins. Favorite parts: The stack in the bottom with OH SURE, RBI MEN (is this really a term in baseball? I suppose it must be), and SOS PAD; [They get ground up] for HOES; [Guy's gal pal] for AMIE; and [What you can't make do without?] for the letter DEE. Banda ACEH, which many of us never heard of (and certainly didn't know how to pronounce) prior to the December 2004 tsunami, is included; check out the AP News Pronunciation Guide here and learn how to pronounce a slew of people and place names starting with the letters A through E.


Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Getting Away," reconstrues a list of things you might do before leaving on vacation. Fave clues: [Like some unwanted hair] for NASAL; [Like some unions] for SAME-SEX; [Stick in an outlet] for PRONG; [Beta preceder] for VHS; and [Spring break?] for TAX CREDIT.

Deb Amlen's Onion A.V. Club crossword pays homage to The Sopranos. I'm not sure how many of the entries are meant to be part of the theme. The first line of the theme song, "WOKE UP THIS / MORNING," definitely. Series creator DAVID CHASE, definitely. BRACCOS, referring to co-star Lorraine Bracco and her sister Elizabeth, who apparently played Lorraine's sister on the show, most likely. Opposite that entry is SLEDDER...I don't see a connection. Opposite MORNING from the song there's BIG BANG, which is not the Bada-Bing...I don't see a connection. BUMP is clued as [Whack, with "off"]; that fits. It crosses CORPSE, which also fits. Those two words are opposite HARASS and REIN...and Tony Soprano had a horse, didn't he? And the mobsters harass and are harassed by the FBI. Favorite clues: [It's fed after pulling in] for METER; [Stock holder?] for LADLE; [Some boy toys] for KENS; and [They must be passed before they can be followed] for LAWS.

Raymond Hamel's CrosSynergy "Starving Artist" puzzle plies its trade with a tripartite artist pun: HE LACKED THE MONET/ NEEDED TO BUY DEGAS / TO MAKE THE VAN GOGH. (Ouch.) Curious usage of [Lack of diversity] for UNITY. Nowhere in the American Heritage Dictionary definition do I see a suggestion that diversity precludes unity. Divisiveness does, yes, but not diversity. My son's grade school is the most diverse institution I've ever seen, and there's a unity of purpose there. And a unity of kids' shared interests in, say, SpongeBob and video games.

Dan Naddor groups word-letter names in his LA Times crossword: VITAMIN C, SPECIAL K cereal, THEORY Y from the workplace, LL COOL J, MALCOLM X, and EXHIBIT A. Alas, those end letters can be scrambled to make JACK XY, but that means nothing to me. (Kyle XY is a TV show, though.)