May 07, 2008

Thursday, 5/8

NYS 4:53
NYT 4:23
LAT 4:15
CS 3:21

Customarily I don't put up my daily post until after I've done the NYT crossword. Well, it's time to put my kid to bed, and I suspect I will be putting myself to bed for the night, too. Getting two hours into a seven-day course of antibiotics has, oddly enough, not restored me to good health. In the meantime, I've done the Sun puzzle and encourage you to solve it if you don't normally do the Sun. And of course, you're free to chat about the Times puzzle after you've done it, and I'll hope to remember not to read spoilerific comments before I get to that crossword.

Karen Tracey's latest New York Sun "Themeless Thursday" displays her trademarks:

  • Scrabbly geography: PIZ BERNINA, the [Highest mountain in the Rhaetian Alps]; and ST. JOE, [Walter Cronkite's Missouri birthplace, informally)
  • Pop culture/people's names: GERARDO, the ["Rico Suave" rapper]; and FELICITY HUFFMAN, [She lost out to Reese Witherspoon for Best Actress of 2005]; [Stand-up comedian Richard] JENI; Ed ASNER, [Santa voicer in "Olive, the Other Reindeer"]; ["PopoZao" rapper, familiarly] for K-FED (Kevin Federline, Britney Spears' ex); ["30 Rock" creator] Tina FEY; ["99 Luftballons" album] for NENA
  • Tech stuff: VISTA, [XP successor]
  • Super-Scrabbly name that's hard to squeeze into a grid and has crazy letter combos: TCHAIKOVSKY, [Subject of the biopic "The Music Lovers"]
  • Colloquial speech: "NOW I GET IT"; British slang CERT

Favorite clues: [Money moneymaker] for AD SPACE (as in Money magazine); [Wax alternative] for EYEBROW TWEEZERS; the verb [Cool] for ABATE; and [End to end?] for the letter DEE.


It took me far too long to grasp what Harvey Estes was doing in his New York Times crossword. With theme entries clued [With 6-Down, 34-Down], [See 3-Down], [With 35-Down, 34-Down], and [See 11-Down], it would have behooved me to read the clue for 34-Down: 3 letters, [Handheld computer, or holding hands]. Aha! That's PDA, a PERSONAL DIGITAL / ASSISTANT and PUBLIC DISPLAY OF / AFFECTION. Who knew the two PDAs both expanded to a 15 and a 9? Lively fill and clues include ESPRESSOS ([They really get steamed]); INDOCHINA ([Red River area]); NO PASSING, which is [What a solid yellow line may indicate] on a road; [Move like ketchup] for OOZE; NO MA'AM ([Polite turndown]); KIBOSH ([Unwelcome end, with "the"]; [Pitchers may hold them] for ADES; and [Chasers in a saloon, perhaps] for a POSSE. I like the Thursday obliqueness of the clue for 1-Across: guitar [Neck attachments] are CAPOS, but the clue doesn't make the guitar aspect at all obvious. If you didn't twig to that and you didn't know Robert CULP was Bill Cosby's ["I Spy" co-star], that first square might be tough. A new-looking clue for ENYA: ["Paint the Sky With Stars: The Best of ___" (1997 album)] didn't point me in the right direction. Hell, with just the Y in place, I half contemplated putting STYX in there.

I usually like bird-themed crosswords, and Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword has a good "Birdman" theme—five fictional characters whose second names are birds. I'd never heard of LINCOLN HAWK, the ["Over the Top" arm wrestler], but CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, ICHABOD CRANE, and ATTICUS FINCH are all classic names from literature, and these days pretty much everyone has heard of Captain JACK SPARROW, the ["Pirates of the Caribbean" hero] of the recent movies. It was a tad jarring to have both SAWN ([Cut]) and RIPSAWS ([Wood cutters]) in the same grid. There was a Roman numeral math problem I had to solve, [CCCXVII thrice], because I didn't know the first crossing, [Russian composer Cesar]. (It's CUI crossing CMLI.) It amused me that ROSS, right there at 1-Across, was clued as [Susan ___, George's fiancee on "Seinfeld"]. (With straightforward crossings, for those of you who completely forgot, or never knew, this TV trivia.)

Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Back Nines," includes six words that end with NINE:
  • MEZZANINE, or [Level in the theater]
  • ASININE, or [Dumb]
  • LEONINE, or [Strong and regal]
  • QUININE, or [Tonic water ingredient]
  • EPONINE, or ["On My Own" singer in "Les Miserables"]
  • SATURNINE, or [Gloomy]
I checked OneLook to see if any other common -NINE words were left out. Yep—CANINE and FEMININE, which lack 6- and 8-letter partner words; with an even number of letters, neither could stand alone in the center of a 15x15 grid. The grace note here is the unsignaled PGA in the center, clued as [Org. for drivers] rather than something long-winded like [Org. whose members play the back nine].