January 29, 2008

Wednesday, 1/30

LAT 3:42
NYS 3:26
NYT 3:25
CS 3:23

Aw, man! I should've gone to trivia tonight. I decided I'd stay home on account of the 40-degree plunge in temps, the gusts to 50 mph, and the snow. One of my upstairs neighbors is having a party (on Tuesday! Who does that?) and apparently one of the guests found that same inclement weather to be unconducive to smoking, so instead they smoked in the stairwell, which is totally against the law. If I'd gone out to the bar, it would've been smoke-free. But no, I stayed home, where cigarette stink came whooshing through the doorway crevices. I expect to get a headache and rail further against smokers.

But I digress! The topic here is crosswords, not weather and smoking restrictions.

Look at Joe Krozel's super-fancy New York Sun crossword! "Secret Formula" is sort of a rebus-inflected crossword, if you think about the kind of rebus puzzle in which you add some words/sounds/letters and subtract others from the whole to derive the answer. (That link isn't actually an example of that, but it's hilarious.) Or more directly, it's a CRYPTIC MESSAGE in that it dismantles words the way many cryptic crossword clues do. 50-Across's clue is [24-Across + 32-Across + 41-Across – 58-Down – 13-Down – 48-Across – 28-Down]. THE DA VINCI CODE is THEDA + VINCI (PROVINCIALS minus the PRO and ALS parts—and those are both answers in the grid, in symmetrical spots) + CODE (CINCO DE MAYO minus CIN and MAYO). I did raise an eyebrow when I saw MAYO in the same grid as CINCO DE MAYO, because I knew Peter Gordon wouldn't allow such a duplication without a good reason. It's an integral part of the gimmick, so there it is. Aside from the groovy cryptic/rebus gimmick, it's just a good crossword—fill like LEMON TARTS and a BITTER PILL to swallow, WASSAIL, KARMA, and "IT'S A BOY." One complete mystery clue for me: [Tycho's pal in the webcomic "Penny Arcade"] for GABE. Let's see...it's mostly about videogaming, but this one was kinda funny.

Peter Collins came up with a fresh and interesting (if cholesterol-heavy) theme for his New York Times crossword. The three short entries across the middle of the grid read HALF DOZEN EGGS, and there are six EGGs hidden (Easter egg hunt!) in longish Across entries (17-, 18-, 19-, 55-, 57-, and 59-Across). Those six longish answers area joined by nine other longish answers in the fill, with lotsa nice stacking. This puzzle also has more G's than any other daily NYT crossword. Gotta give this crossword props for including ILLEST ([Coolest, in rap slang]—probably woefully outdated by now) crossing the 500-year-old word ALEGAR.


It took me far too long, it felt like, to extract the theme from Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy crossword, "All About Eve." Apparently my brain was dead, because I saw the EVE in a couple of the nonsensical theme entries, and didn't think to remove it. Ah! There you have it. Come to rest yields COME TO EVEREST, and leg room gives a LEVEE GROOM. Genesis forks over GENE SIEVES—and my favorite, the one that woke me up to theme, is fine dining/FINE DEVEINING of shrimp. Fill highlights: BEETHOVEN, FREEBIE, SLURP, and DEVILFISH (Octopus? Really? Yes, and also a gray whale.)

No time to blog the LA Times right now—gotta run!

Back from the salon, now a muted redhead:

In his LA Times crossword, Dan Naddor repurposes CURRENT EVENTS as electrical problems: a POWER BLACKOUT, an ELECTRICAL SHORT, and CIRCUIT OVERLOAD. Zap! Fortunately, no shocks, electrocution, or computer-frying power surges appeared during the solving of this crossword. Nice fill, with SLIPPERY across from OPOSSUMS, Tennessee Williams' STELLA and IGUANA, a DIMWIT and a tent REVIVAL, and a [Youngster's writing challenge], CURSIVE. Apparently many schools start teaching cursive in second grade, and I don't know if my son's class will be venturing into cursive before the end of the school year. He likes the idea, but crikey, his printing is so sloppy, I fear his cursive will be illegible. Anyone have terrible printing as a kid but more legible cursive?