April 13, 2008

Monday, 4/14

CS 3:06
LAT 2:59
NYS 2:47
NYT 2:27

Foot update! I know that's what you were hoping I'd open with. My foot is feeling much better, but I still can't persuade it to get inside a shoe. (It yelps when I try to put on a shoe.) So I'll keep wearing my husband's orthopedic boot. I assure you, it is every bit as foxy as it sounds. At least it's black—and black is, after all, the new black. We'll see how much I relapse when I actually leave the house and, you know, walk somewhere. I've mostly been on the couch since Thursday with my foot elevated.

Christina Houlihan Kelly's New York Times crossword is easy (Jan, look at you! Clocking in at 2:13! Sitting atop the leaderboard!), and understanding the theme helps only a wee bit in filling in all the squares. Each theme entry ends with a noun that can double as a verb meaning "to impede." There's AUCTION BLOCK, clued as [Bidding impediment?], as if it were a block impeding a bid at an auction rather than, well, the auction block. There are also a PICNIC HAMPER, REALITY CHECK, and ALUMINUM FOIL (hey, do Canadians spell it that way, or the British "aluminium" way?). In the fill, poor John STAMOS: he's gone on to have a number of prime-time series, most recently E.R., and still he gets clued as [Actor John of "Full House"]. (Full House was that abysmal sitcom featuring the Olsen twins jointly playing a toddler. Stamos sported quite the mullet in that.) Plenty of familiar crossword fill and clues here, as you might expect on a Monday. AGATE is clued as [Playing marble] even though the game of marbles had its heyday decades ago. Did you know that there is such a thing as Lake Superior agate? It gets its characteristic color from iron, and some Minnesotas hunt for agate on the beaches of Lake Superior. Another old-timey crossword answer is ONER, or [Humdinger]. I just Googled several phrases, various combos of "That's a oner" and "It's a real oner." I got one hit, from a 1920 book, for all four searches. There's a 1905 hit for "he's a oner." I think it's safe to say the word oner is kept alive mainly in crosswords. We've got suffixes -ASE and -IST, old gas brand ESSO, and some SOTS. Of course, we also have GOTTI, RANKLE, and a few current pop-culture names.

Michael Langwald's New York Sun crossword is called "Green-Lighting." This extended 15x16 grid has six theme entries, the last being GO-BETWEEN. Each of the other five is a three-word phrase (wait, does MERRY-GO-ROUND count as one word or three? a three-word word?) in which the middle is GO. I would crank Prince's "LET'S GO CRAZY" right now, but it's on the late side for loud music in a condo building). "YOU GO, GIRL" and "DON'T GO THERE" share a sassiness. And HAPPY-GO-LUCKY is, well, happy-go-lucky. Fun theme, eh? Favorite fill: BOB CRANE from Hogan's Heroes (subject of the lurid-sounding Auto-Focus); the MCDLT sandwich; a call on LINE TWO; MADRAS and LONDON internationalizing one corner; LT. GOV. (in Illinois, I've heard it pronounced "lite guv"—is that just a local thing?); and the ROLY-poly (I will, for once, abstain from posting that photo of the giant isopod that looks like a roly-poly from your nightmares); and the Pepperidge Farm MILANO cookie (mmm, chocolate).


Was anyone able to download the LA Times crossword in Across Lite? The Cruciverb link gives me a 404 Not Found message.

Patrick Blindauer pulled together the CrosSynergy puzzle, "Abracadabra!", with a letter bank of just 10 letters (those that appear in PRESTIDIGITATOR). Now, that word does contain the four most popular vowels, pluralizer S, and five other fairly common consonants. But there is no L or N, so OLEO and ANTE must sit this one out. Favorite clues: [Bar stuff] for SOAP; [Victory, to Wagner] for SIEG (I like to put my waning knowledge of German to use); and [O'Shea who appeared on "Ed Sullivan" the same night as the Beatles] for TESSIE. First person to tell me something about Tessie O'Shea without looking it up wins being quoted in an addendum to this post.

Janie, our resident Broadway maven, reports the scoop on Tessie O'Shea:

tessie o'shea -- brit. music hall performer, may also have appeared in a pretty not wonderful adaptation of pride and prejudice in its b'way musical incarnation, and i think maybe something's afoot

Then Janie looked it up to see if she was right:

hmmm. not *too* bad. the musical adaptation was not p & p, but the girl who came to supper (based i believe on terrance rattigan's the prince and the showgirl) -- and something's afoot was a broadway production as well.

and/but yes -- she comes from the british music hall tradition of performing.

Updated later with the LA Times crossword:

Well! Nancy Salomon's LAT is the clumsiest crossword I've ever seen! This theme is stumbling all over the place. There's a SLIPCOVER, FALL SEMESTER, TRIP ODOMETER, and FLOPHOUSE. (You all get that I don't really think the theme is clumsy, right? It's a theme about clumsiness?) With eight 7- to 9-letter entries in the fill, this is pretty fancy for a Monday. [Fast fliers of the past: Abbr.] are SSTS—this weekend, my son and I delved into Comcast's library of on-demand flicks and watched The Concorde: Airport '79. An SST in action! I'm not sure if commercial Concordes could really do evasive barrel-rolls, but my kid enjoyed that. We have now seen the entire Airport oeuvre of four '70s disaster movies.