February 03, 2008

Monday, 2/4

CS 3:32
NYS 3:17
LAT 3:03
NYT 2:32

The crosswordese haiku/senryu/short doggerel contest is here; I'll choose the winner on Saturday. (The prize is Russell Brown's wooden crossword earrings.)

The New York Times crossword interface was having some technical glitches tonight—the Java applet still doesn't have the Monday puzzle, three hours after it was supposed to be there. No worries—the puzzle's available in Across Lite, too, which is where I solved it.

The byline reads Dave and Tracy Mackey—Dave has had his work published in the NYT before, but I believe this is Tracy's debut. (Congrats!) The theme of their New York Times puzzle is "See you again!"—three folksy phrases that mean that include "DON'T BE A STRANGER," "DROP IN ANY TIME," and "Y'ALL COME BACK NOW." Au revoir means the same thing, but it's hardly folksy so it would be out of place here. My favorite clues took me back to my '70s youth: [Where "you can do whatever you feel," in a hit 1978 song] for YMCA, and ["Happy Days" cool cat, with "the"] for FONZ. I think the with "the" is extraneous—didn't his friends call him Fonz, sans article, when addressing him face to face? Or do I remember this wrong?


Mike Torch's LA Times crossword has six theme entries that begin with an xAxA word (and one, BABA WAWA, that also ends with such a word). There's also PAPA BEAR, LA-LA LAND, GAGA OVER, DADA ARTIST, and MAMA TOLD ME. Now, caca fails the breakfast test and "ha ha" doesn't really begin a stand-alone phrase. But the crossword-friendly rara avis! Where is it? Kicked to the curb because the vowel sound's different? And Nana Mouskouri! Yes, I know, you'd need a bigger grid to comfortably fit everyone in. And I liked this crossword—six theme entries that are fun to say, along with good fill (e.g., DRIBBLE, ORLANDO, PREQUEL, QUARRY).

Laura Sternberg's New York Sun crossword, "J Crew," features three J.J.J. people. I'd never heard of JAMES J. JEFFRIES, a boxer of note a century ago. (Wikipedia says he was a "Great White Hope" touted as the white man who could beat Jack Johnson, a black boxer. He couldn't.) J. JONAH JAMESON, Peter Parker's editor/boss in Spider-Man, was recently in another crossword with J. Alfred Prufrock. And then there's JESSE JACKSON, JR.—my mother's representative in Congress. (He's endorsed Obama in tomorrow's primary.) Love the extra J names—JOAN JETT and JANE EYRE, JUDE Law, Jason sounds-like-a-J GIAMBI, and Elvis silent-J STOJKO.

Rich Norris's CrosSynergy crossword, "A Bunch of Baloney," has five theme entries beginning with "baloney"—WIND, HOT AIR, BUNK, FUDGE, and GAS. I don't think I've heard FUDGE used that way—perhaps the people who say that are the same ones who eat PEA SALAD. Plenty of longish fill here (ERIC IDLE!), and three Zs and an X.