July 07, 2007

Saturday, 7/7

NYT 7:20
Newsday 5:28
LAT 5:15
CS 3:20

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

I am ready to accept my medal now—my Gold Star for Devotion to Crosswords and Blogging. Because here I am, plunked before the keyboard, Times crossword done, ready to blog. Okay, so it's not like I was going to come home from the Police concert at Wrigley Field and go straight to bed—but still. Two beers, two hours of dancing, one sore throat, one aching head, and two ears amazingly not ringing, and here I am. Thinking such things as, "Too bad that 'De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da' has 16 letters, because it would be kinda fun to have in a crossword." And how I finished the crossword online without mucking it up, I'll never know, because I keep backspacing to fix typo after typo here.

So, would you like to hear more about the concert? What songs they played? How they looked? How they sounded? No? Okay. Crosswords? Well, all right then.

Todd McClary's NYT crossword snagged me right off the bat with 1-Across, where I entered SPACE PROBE instead of SPACECRAFT and threw in OPT-Tab instead of ALT-Tab (we Mac users have little use for an ALT key), which mucked up HELLO HELLO, which ties in thematically (themelessly speaking) with ADIOS AMIGO. Answers I liked: J'ACCUSE (which we like to say around the house, complete with dramatically pointed finger); OL' MAN RIVER; PINA COLADA (though I don't know anyone who would order one instead of a Cosmo, and Cosmos are passé anyway...which maybe is the point, that both drinks are now retro?); and MONTESSORI. Entry I didn't like: UNTACK. (Really?) Most controversial clue: [Northwest Terr. native] for ESK. (Will, can you change that clue for syndication in six weeks? Some Canadian solvers are going to find that offensive, though I gather most Alaskan natives are OK with the word Eskimo.) Least known (to me) clues: [Three-time Gold Glove winner ___ Otis] for AMOS Otis; [St. ___ (Cornwall resort town)] for St. IVES (population 11,165!); [Eternal] for EONIAN (EON/EONS/AEON get much more play in crosswords than the adjective EONIAN). Favorite clues: [Word with age or weight] for ATOMIC (I envision a carny's booth set up to guess atomic ages or weights); [Zolaesque imputation] for the aforementioned J'ACCUSE.


Peter Gordon has also recognized the perfectness of DE DO DO DO DE DA DA DA as a crossword answer. (That convenient alternating vowel/consonant pattern!) That's why it anchored his 15x16 grid in the January 6, 2004, Sun crossword. Two other song titles completed the theme: I DO I DO I DO I DO I DO and DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO.

Robert Wolfe's LA Times themeless is low on animals and vegetable, high on minerals. The [Ox tail?] -IDE, SIDERITE (hey! it looks like fossilized relics found in a litterbox), SCRAP IRON, BORATE, and an ADIT to get into the mine. Also heavy on the spirit world, with the [Roman household spirits] LARES, JOVE, HORUS, and a little ESPRIT. Topical, too, with SUMMERS and DOG DAYS referencing the current heat wave in the West.

Daniel Stark's Newsday Saturday Stumper has one of those themeless grids packed with 7-letter entries, meaning a lot more 7-letter single words and fewer fun phrases. I generally prefer a themeless grid with corner stacks of 8- to 10-letter entries. The Newsday puzzle gives us MISTIER and EERIEST, ALERTER and LEDGERS, UNLOOSE and TAPERED, and what can you do with those. They're not clued easily, but they're also not clued with much humor. That's the Newsday Saturday Stumper style—tough clues, but sans giggles. I like the giggles.

Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle undoubles the O in the theme entries. Dom DeLuise doesn't get much mention these days, but I liked seeing him in a DOM'S DAY SCENARIO here. 22-Across, [Sting's band, with "The"], 6 letters...hmm, what could that be?