September 12, 2007

Thursday, 9/13

NYS 5:24
LAT 5:12
NYT 4:48
CS 2:59

Holy schnike! A whopping 105 theme squares? (Anyone know if that's a new record?) Contained in one triple-stack and two double-stacks of 15-letter entries? That's what Joe Krozel and Vic Fleming came up with for their New York Times puzzle. Unlike most puzzles with a bunch of 15-letter answers spanning the grid, these ones are all related to the judicial system. The tradeoff in such a puzzle is constraints in generating the crossing fill, which accounts for a few partial entries (e.g., OR TEA, A JET), more than the usual foreign-language content (ERES, ESSE, TIOS, NER, TASSE, ESSA, PASTO—hey, if that means [Meal, in Milan], then antipasto served before dinner suddenly makes a lot more sense), and ample abbreviations (e.g., ASSYR, GRPS). Good fill includes SWAMI, BOOZE, EAST LA, ESQUE (which has a touch of Wordplay chic since The ZOLAESQUE Affair), and SUSAN (Vic! Don't clue your wife's name with [Lazy ___]!). So help me (your honor), I even like the "roll your own" word RELAPS, because the IDEA (clued here as [Bean sprout?]) of lapping someone on a racetrack and then whipping around the track again and passing them again is funny. Nice bit of trivia with [First multiracial coeducational college in the South] for Kentucky's BEREA College, which charges no tuition. ELSA Alert! A new ELSA clue: [Dr. ___ Schneider, historian who was a love interest of Indiana Jones].

Karen Tracey's New York Sun Themeless Thursday puzzle is jazzy with Scrabbly answers, like the central anchor, JASCHA HEIFETZ (now him, I've heard of—Jacqueline Du Pre, less so), and the teeny middle right section packed with two Zs, and X, and a K. Loveliest entries: JOAN MIRO (lucky guess with three of the letters—didn't know what [Grattage pioneer] meant); the [Do-it-all device] we know and love, the UNIVERSAL REMOTE; ON THE AGENDA; SAKS FIFTH AVENUE with a Shopgirl movie clue (in that movie, the lead characters go to a Reynaldo Gallery); the colorful SOUSE (a [Lush]); SLIPPAGE; K'NEX building toys (check out this guy's seven-page gallery of K'Nex creations); and CHAINSAW (a [Powerful feller], indeed). Clues not already mentioned that I enjoyed: [March alternative] for SIT-IN; the verb [Plots] for GRAPHS; [Pelican, to Pedro] for the Spanish word ALCATRAZ; [Submit] for HAND IN; [Third of eight] for planet EARTH; [Arboreal African snake] for MAMBA (using "arboreal" instead of the more directly horrifying "tree snake" a plus); [Asian tie] for OBI; [___ Battle (video game)] for OGRE, a refreshing change from the Shrek and fairy tale clues; and ["I'm a great lover, I'll bet] comedian Philips] for EMO (cluing him as a plain fill-in-the-blank is dull, but using one of his skewed lines? Always a good bet!). I had never heard of the [1968 hit by the Turtles], ELENORE, and I do not understand two clues at all: [Keynote, in music] = TONIC and [Primo begetters] = TIOS.


"Grand Openings" by Mel Rosen, the CrosSynergy crossword, begins each theme entry with a "g(G)rand ____." For MASTER BEDROOM, I prefer to think of hip=hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash rather than chess grandmasters. [Cupcake-shaped side item with chili]? Mmmm, CORN MUFFIN! With butter, please.

Dan Naddor's LA Times puzzle duped me with [One who ran a Mickey Mouse operation?]—I opted for DISNEY instead of the correct EISNER. Look at that! The two names share the inside four letters. The theme entries are five phrases that mean [Hang tough], and they make an excellent group of idiomatic phrases. For the fill, far too many clues were on a wavelength far from the one I was on—is it just me, or was this a challenging set of clues?