October 01, 2007

Tuesday, 10/2

Tausig 5:08 (print this one out for best results)
Onion 4:42
NYS 4:19
CS 2:52
LAT 2:47
NYT 2:38

Oliver Hill's New York Times crossword (a glittering debut?) is mighty easy, but (or and) an impressive construction. The MIND YOUR P'S AND Q'S theme groups three P.Q. phrases: PERSONALITY QUIZ (Scrabbly bonus: a Z), PRO QUARTERBACK, and PATCHWORK QUILT. For a theme with four Q's to dwell in a crossword that also finds room for an X and some lively phrases (WENT SOLO, AT ODDS, SAM I AM, EVEN UP), and words like SQUEAL, KAISER, and CAPRI pants—well, it's fresh and fun. Favorite clues: [It can be silly] for Silly PUTTY; [Overall feel] for AURA; [Relative of a mole] for SHREW (we had some shrews in our backyard when I was a teen); [Queen of the hill?] for ANT; [Malfeasant, often] for SUED; and [Red-bordered magazine] for TIME.

Edited to add Will Shortz's comment from the NYT forum: "Tuesday's crossword is a debut by Oliver Hill, 17, who's a high school senior from my hometown of Pleasantville, N.Y. He lives around the corner from me and drops off his puzzles in person! Oliver is the 10th constructor under 20 to be published in the Times since I became editor in 1993." Congratulations, Oliver!

In the New York Sun, Alan Olschwang gives us a "Horse of a Different Color." Alas, the charming movie, The Secret of Roan Inish, has too long a title to join the horse party here. The theme entries are phrases that end with horse colors. I like WOOD SORREL, with its delicate, tart leaves and its willingness to prosper where the landscaper raked up our ground cover. And my aunt just got a 12-year old copper-colored sorrel horse. Nice Scrabbly fill throughout, with words like JAVA, ZOLA, COAXES, Q-TIPS, and DJED.


Ben Tausig double-dips this week, constructing both the Onion A.V. Club puzzle and the Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle. Up first, the Onion. Ben takes phrases that start with a stand-alone letter and triples that letter, radically changing the meaning. For example, [People in the market for white sheets?] are KKK-MART SHOPPERS. Favorite clues: the slangy [Mack] for PLAYBOY; ["The Shining" weapon] for AXE ("Red rum! Red rum!"); [Rock star who offered his help to Nixon in combating "the hippie elements"] for PRESLEY (there are two more Nixon-related clues for good measure); [Garden creeper] for SNAIL; [Nissan sedan] for ALTIMA because the Altima's now available in a coupe that is hot:

It looks even sexier in person—there was one parked on my block this morning, but I swear I didn't touch it. Ahem, where was I? Clues I liked from the Onion puzzle: [Dominates, as in World of Warcraft] for PWNS; [Groove on a power ballad] for SWAY (might want to hold your lighter aloft while you sway); [Beach danger] for UV RAYS (though in Chicago, we also accept E. coli as an answer); and ["I don't appreciate your ___, young missy!"] for TONE. Musical names I didn't know: MOE, a [Jam band from Buffalo], and KRS[-One, a Bronx MC].

Moving along to Ben's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Second Life": I should just print out Across Lite puzzles that have gigantically long theme clues, because those clues are so hard to view in the Across Lite window. Even with the window stretched out to fill my 19-inch screen, I couldn't see the end of one clue. That distracted me from seeing that the capitalized words in each theme clue were to be anagrammed for the nonsensical answers...like recycling your OLD MAGAZINES into a SAND-ALE GIZMO. The clues I enjoyed most: [Illegal hit] for TOKE (not sports!); [Talk show host who received on-air liposuction] for GERALDO (I forgot about that!); [Blushing prose] for ODE (using the word informally, as in "Matt Gaffney's book is an ode to crosswords and the people who make them."); and [Arouses one's partner in bed?] for SNORES. VELVEETA is so cheesy, and not in an aged-dairy-product way. You know how people from certain countries tend to pronounce V's as B's? I like to think of them talking about Belbeeta and belbet Elbis ("Biba Las Begas!") paintings. (Let us leave aside the bulba here.) Other most favored entries: OUTCLASS, A ZILLION, I WANT IT, XANAX, and EXCELLED.

Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Beer Bust Belles," includes three (semi-)famous real women's names and one fictional girl's name that start and end with BE and ER. Ignoring the title, at first I thought the theme was "women whose last names are quaint professions," with BECKY THATCHER and BEATRIX POTTER. Never heard of BETSY PALMER of I've Got a Secret, but she also played evil Jason's mother in Friday the 13th. Best crossing of names in the fill: EUBIE BLAKE meets DUBYA.

Joy Frank's LA Times crossword surfs the crest of phrases ending with SWELL, ROLLER, and WAVE to exult, COWABUNGA, DUDE! I thought that was more Bart Simpsonesque than surfer lingo, but what do I know? (Wait, does Bart even say that? Or just "Don't have a cow, man" and "Ay, caramba"?) My favorite BAY CITY ROLLER was Derek, the blond one, but...meh. Never passed up a chance to read about the lads in Tiger Beat or Teen Beat. Favorite nonthematic fill here: GLOP ([Unsavory serving]) and PEEWEE Herman.