December 12, 2007

Thursday, 12/13

NYS 4:46
CS 4:37
NYT 4:29
LAT 3:30

Look! Down there! No, not there—scroll down to the following post for a crossword-book buying guide.

Ooh, Thursday happiness, when the crosswords get markedly more gnarly.

In John Farmer's New York Times puzzle, three 15-letter theme entries share the clue, [End of some addresses]: CITY, STATE, AND ZIP for a mailing address, E-MAIL DOMAIN NAME for an e-mail address, and GOD BLESS AMERICA for far too many spoken addresses. This crossword seems to have bogged down some solvers. Why is that? Let's see. I was mighty hesitant to fill in the last square, where [Riveted] met [Fire]. (AGAZE and ZEAL, though I was thisclose to going with AGAPE and PEAL.) Another point of hesitation was [Flings] crossing [The Dolphins retired his #12]. I'd heard of Brian Griese, so I went with GRIESE and JAGS even though I thought Griese was a more current name. Turns out Brian is the son of the Dolphins great Bob GRIESE.

Tough, fun, or otherwise noteworthy clues: [Commodious craft] uses the plural craft, for ARKS. Those who just learned the word plat in the Tuesday NYT might've guessed a [Plat book unit] is an ACRE. Another famous ERICA, Erica Hubbard, stars in the ABC Family channel series, Lincoln Heights. [Set down] is LAID, not LAND. A SHIP fits [It may go in a lock], as in the locks that transport a vessel from one body of water to another. [Rolled the dice] is DARED, in idiom. [Some widows] are black widow SPIDERS. When I EDIT, I do sometimes [Exchange words?]. I did not know that TEES were [Curling targets], but I did enjoy watching curling on prime-time TV in Canada once. [Jacopo ___, composer of the earliest surviving opera], is an alternative to PERI Gilpin or a Persian fairy. (But wait! Ahmadinejad says they haven't got any there. He is, of course, full of it.) Did you fail to notice the W in [Douglas or Smith of the W.N.B.A.]? They're named KATIE, but I spaced on the femaleness of the clue. A [Baker's dozen, maybe] are PIES. (Make mine pecan or strawberry, please.) [One singing "Those Were the Days"?] is an OLD PAL—that one demanded lots of crossing letters. The ["CSI" woman] SARA (played by Jorja Fox) has left the show. [Hoops bloopers] are AIR BALLS—great entry! Who's the ["Justine" novelist]? DE SADE. I think I'll skip the book. Jazz singer IVIE Anderson sang with Duke Ellington's band. (More singers in the grid: Neil SEDAKA, ETTA James, the NYLONS (though not clued as such), and a MINSTREL.)

The "Themeless Thursday" in the New York Sun is by Steven Kahn, and there's sort of a pictorial theme. The movie THE MARK / OF ZORRO spans the middle of the grid, and most of the black squares form a big letter Z, Zorro's slashing mark. I learned a new word, [Hamadryads]—that's another name for KING COBRAS. Neil SEDAKA makes an appearance here, too, along with ANI DiFranco, MOZART, and STEVIE Wonder—and while I don't know who shortstop Joe CRONIN is, I know REO Speedwagon singer Kevin Cronin. I've never, ever heard a raccoon called a TREE BEAR, and I was fighting with some of its crossings (HIP or HEP? HEP. [Women's clothing label]? BEBE). Cool to have STEVIE clued with "Ebony and Ivory," right underneath IN BLACK AND WHITE. I have no idea why [Result of failing to come set] is BALK—is this about baseball?


Cool LA Times crossword from Lee Glickstein. The way I happened to go through this puzzle, the last theme entry was the last one I came across, and without it, I was missing the theme completely. The other five vertical theme entries have TREE TOPS: The top three or four letters double as a tree name. There's FIRE SALE, ELMER FUDD, A SHOT IN THE DARK, PLUMBER'S HELPER, and TEA KETTLE. Fun fill, too—a KNAVE and a WIMP, TOO TOO crossing ET TU, Scrabbly REX REED and ZOLA.

And our fourth puzzle today is Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy creation, "Hop In!" It's quite possible that this is the best single-day foursome of daily crosswords this year—there's much to admire about all of them. Klahn's theme entries absorb a HOP: Cornwallis turns into CORNWALL HOPIS, perseverance into HOPPER SEVERANCE, and toothpaste into TOOTH PAST HOPE ([Problem that really needs rooting out?]. Favorite clues: [One way to get into deep water] for SCUBA; [Helper who had a hunch] for IGOR; [Big Red?] for LENIN; [Look like a lecher] for OGLE; [He's a hell of a guy] for DEVIL; [Inner doughnut?] for HOLE; and [Fruit of the loon?] for EGG.