June 26, 2007

Wednesday, 6/27

Tausig 5:38
Sun 4:54
LAT 4:46
Onion 4:33
NYT 3:56
CS 3:05

(updated at 7:53 a.m. Wednesday)

I don't want to be brief tonight, because while brevity is the soul of wit, I just don't find myself brevity-prone. However, I'm sleepy and I have several puzzles to talk about tonight, so I must curtail.

Up first, the NY Sun, NY Times, Onion A.V. Club, and Tausig puzzles:

The NYT by Barbara Olson has a MANly foursome of words with a MIDDLEMAN. Anything that gets SALAMANDERS and KILIMANJARO into the grid is fine by me. The 24 6- and 7-letter answers in the fill also freshen things up. Not sure if it's the fill or the clues that made this one feel harder than I expected—I think it's both. MALA, the [Actress Powers of "Cyrano de Bergerac"], isn't one of the old actresses whose names pop up in crosswords, but she played Roxane opposite Jose Ferrer in the classic film version, and she just died on June 11 of this year. ASEA and SEADOGS both appear in the grid, for those of you who like to collect such duplications and grumble at them.

The Sun puzzle is Francis Heaney's creation, "On the Other Hand." Each theme answer takes a phrase with an L and an R and swaps them, adjusting the surrounding letters to retrieve an actual word. Thus, Don Rickles ➡ Don Lickres ➡ DON LIQUORS, and Big Leaguer ➡ Big Reaguel ➡ BIG REAGLE, [Popular crossword constructor Merl?]. (Hey! Merl's famous!) I found it kinda hard to unravel these, and there were six theme entries to occupy my time. Fave clues: [Breathtaking part of a sentence?] for COMMA; [Corona, e.g.] for BEER (which I like because I got that one right away...though it's Negra Modelo in my fridge); [Shortening often used in cookie recipes] for TBSP (though my main cookie recipes use cups and teaspoons, no tablespoons); [Prepare for takeoff?] for UNZIP; and [Two of all fours?] for KNEES. Two complete gaps in my knowledge: [They're separated by muntins] (link is to Wikipedia article on muntins) for PANES, and the kid-lit IRA Says Goodbye.

I'm doing a terrible job with this brevity business, aren't I? All right, now I've finished Tyler Hinman's Onion crossword, which appears to have the title, "XXXXX." The theme appears to be phrases that can be misconstrued to be about kissing. KISS THE RAIL appears to be a face-first wipeout by a snowboarder or skateboarder sliding their board along a rail; completely out of my ken, that. I got a kick out of SMACKDOWN clued as [Smooch a comforter?]. Highlights: TERRAZZO with its double Z and CAKE MIX, plus clues like [Injection into the vain?] for BOTOX and [Where Borat sang the Kazahkstani national anthem] for RODEO (it is incumbent on me to remind Tyler to think about the nude wrestling scene in Borat). Wikipedia tells me that the band in 5-Across, BSS, is "Canadian indie rock supergroup" Broken Social Scene. Never heard of 'em.

One hour into blogging (and solving), and dangit, not so brief. Ben Tausig's Chicago Reader/Ink Well puzzle, "Club Talk," has five two-word phrases that masquerade as caveman-speak, such as [Quote from director Reiner: "Me so foolish for not seeing that"] for ROB BLIND. The lead-off was DICK MOVE, which didn't shout "phrase I fully understand" to me. Urbandictionary.com to the rescue: basically a move or action on the part of a jerk, a.k.a. a dick. GODCAST is a new word, first used in 2004; I prefer hangry (and yay! that post is now the #6 Google result for a hangry search!).


Norm Guggenbiller's LA Times crossword has one of those themes that hides itself from me. A title would help: "Get Out of Jail" would describe the words at the beginning of the three 15-letter phrases.

Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Long Division," splits the word LONG with intervening letters, as in LOYAL FOLLOWING. I did see the movie LOOK WHO'S TALKING, and also the sequel. I'll never have those lost hours back, alas. LOUIS ARMSTRONG is always a boon, in crosswords and in music.

My pal Dave (a.k.a. Evad) wanted me to include a link for another one of those "kids these days!" words in Tyler's Onion crossword. DAP was clued as [High five cousin]. Urbandictionary.com's most accepted definition for dap is "The knocking of fists together as a greeting, or form of respect." I've seen it, sure, but never knew it had a name.