July 26, 2007

Friday, 7/27

NYS 6:15 + 3:00
NYT 5:44
CHE 4:16
Jonesin' 3:39
LAT 3:31
CS 2:44

WSJ 8:22

(updated at 11 a.m. Friday)

The New York Sun crossword, "Solving by the Numbers," is a joint production of Patrick Blindauer and Francis Heaney. In the comments on yesterday's post, our Aussie correspondent, DA, wrote, "Patrick B and Francis H have pushed the envelope off the table, and out the door. It is brilliant." What's the twist? The clues for the three theme entries are provided in a post-puzzle puzzle. After I finished the grid, I filled in the acrostic-style blanks above it with the letters that appeared in the crossword squares with the corresponding number. Those gotta-work-for-'em theme clues are mighty fine clues, and yet they had to be exactly the right length (21 letters each) and those letters had to fit into the grid's numbered squares. It's horribly intricate, this interwoven meta-construction. And the trio of theme entries? A rock-solid set: ON THE DOTTED LINE, DASHES ONE'S HOPES, and FILL IN THE BLANKS all go together thematically. And! And these phrases more or less describe the acrostic-style spaces. I will cry foul with the crossing of 1-Across and -Down; I didn't know the singer LULU and certainly didn't know that [Bogs] was British slang for "toilet," or LOOS. (That link also edifies me on "Bob's your uncle!" It's slang for "That's all it takes!") Although I have to uncry foul given that the L was also available via the acrostic. Favorite clue: [Briefs, briefly], which managed to surprise me by being UNDIES. Here's the mythological tale behind "Pile Pelion on OSSA" (53-Across), which isn't a phrase I knew before.

The New York Times crossword by John Conrad has a reasonably Fridayish-looking grid, but with a Thursday-style rebus trick that may induce sneezing if you have a dust allergy: A [DUST] rebus in six exactly symmetrical spots in the grid. [DUST]Y SPRINGFIELD and INTERSTELLAR [DUST] anchor the long entries in the middle, and the top and bottom rows have shorter words/phrases containing [DUST]. The overall cluing and the shorter answers didn't do much for me, but I admired the longer fill (IRIDIUM, [DUST]BUSTER, BIT THE [DUST], NETZERO, SECRECY, and the evocative pair of CHEESES and HORMONE). [Shop coat?] was one of the trickiest clues, since I didn't know [DUST] was involved there at first (SAW[DUST]). I know some people rail against gimmicks like rebuses making Friday incursions, but I always like the punched-up surprise.

Matt Jones' Jonesin' puzzle for the week is called "For Your Security," and its theme entries include the key words from the national threat advisory. Highlights: SEX TAPE, clued as [Paris Hilton recording]; OOMPH; SHAUN clued as ["___ of the Dead" (2004 comedy)] (most entertaining!); and APLOMB. [Author of "The Sandman" series Neil] is Neil GAIMAN, whose name I hear a lot but whose work I've never read. What am I missing? The Busta Rhymes CD called ELE is actually E.L.E., short for extinction-level event. (Hey, I remember that from the movie Deep Impact.)


Michael Ashley's July 13 Chronicle of Higher Ed puzzle, "Party Time," quizzes you on assorted U.S. political parties formed between 1828 and 1971. Are you up on your political history?

Wall Street Journal puzzle editor Mike Shenk bylined today's crossword under one of his pseudonyms, Alice Long. "Singling Out" converts a double letter into a single one in various -ING words, altering the phrase's meaning and cluing according to the new meaning. Thus, [What eyes have?] means STARING ROLES. Plenty of interesting clues for the fill, but the theme wasn't up my alley. I think it's because the theme entries are all so unnatural. A bowling teammate is a SPARING PARTNER?