May 05, 2008

Tuesday, 5/6

NYS 4:07
NYT 3:23
LAT 3:03
CS 2:51
Tausig tba
Onion tba

Why, I do believe this is the first time I've seen a crossword dedicated to the wee state of Delaware. Grary Whitehead's New York Times crossword has a diamond of circled squares in the puzzle's midsection spelling out, clockwise from left, DIAMOND STATE. (Count me among those who didn't know this was one of Delaware's nicknames.) Each of the four long theme entries begin with DEL, Delaware's non-postal abbreviation. And the middle of the bottom row features DOVER, [Capital suggested by the circled letters and by the starts of 17- and 63-Across and 11- and 29-Down]. The DEL. theme entries are:

  • DELTA FORCE, a [Special Operations group] parked beneath A-TEAM
  • DELINQUENT, as in [Overdue]
  • DELIGHTFUL, or [Highly pleasing]—when DELICIOUS wouldn't fit, I wanted DELECTABLE
  • DELLA REESE, a [TV angel portrayer] who was not among Charlie's Angels

Interesting vibe to the remaining fill. That constrained midsection with the circled nickname? It's got not one, but two 3-letter rappers, Dr. DRE and NAS. The [Makings of a hero, perhaps] have naught to do with heroism: SALAMI may go in a sandwich. AESOP gets credited as an author: ["The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" author]. (Change "The" to "A" and you've got a Harlequin romance!) [Takes to the police station] is HAULS IN. UPSALA was a [New Jersey college until 1995]; I enjoyed the Wikipedia writeup, especially the inclusion of a fictional character as a "famous graduate." [Brooke's longtime rival on "All My Children"] demonstrates a working knowledge of ERICA Kane. [Fails to keep] is awfully misleading for a Tuesday, given that the answer is ROTS. [Dance] is the verb phrase, CUT A RUG, rather than the name of a dance. I read [Beat in a Nathan's hot dog contest, e.g.] as present tense OUTEAT, which made TEA cross TEA; whoops, it's OUTATE. (Which nobody much actually uses as a word—but here's an example from my alma mater.) Raise your hand if the [Cuban export] ending in GAR began life as a CIGAR instead of the correct answer, SUGAR. Sugar does not go with the [Publican's stock] of ALES, does it?

Mike Nothnagel's New York Sun crossword, "Sports Trades," flips some phrases that include professional sports team names. A Celtic cross inverts to CROSS CELTIC, or [Betray a basketball player?]. Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" turns into RAG MAPLE LEAF, or [Tease a hockey player?]. A cardinal rule becomes RULE CARDINAL, or [Exercise power over a baseball player?]. "Bear witness" becomes WITNESS BEAR, or [Observe a football player?]. The theme entries sound a little stilted without the indefinite articles that are included in the clues, but what're you gonna do?

I'm proud of myself for needing plenty of crosses to remember that the ["Hip to Be Square" singer] was HUEY LEWIS. Also from pop music: "DON'T STOP," the Fleetwood Mac song featured in Bill Clinton's '92 campaign; ENYA; Chuck D and Master P's RAP; and ELTON John. I didn't know that late '50s/early '60s Brazilian futbol featured a midfielder named DIDI. Props to Mike N. (or Peter Gordon) for including the Motorola RAZR phone in the grid; my new phone is an LG enV. Can you believe I opted for green instead of orange? It's true. I don't care for that particular shade of orange.


Donna Levin's LA Times crossword features four phrases clued as [Deck]: as a verb, KNOCK TO THE FLOOR; as a CRUISE SHIP LEVEL or ELEVATED PATIO for places; and as a pack of FIFTY-TWO CARDS. Tasty fill: FUDGE SAUCE and IHOP! There's a bit of a retro vibe in the fill: [Random House cofounder Bennett] CERF, [Humorist Mort] SAHL, the [Icelandic epic] called an EDDA, and [Gossip first name] RONA Barrett take me back to my early days of crossword solving. (I think we had a Bennett Cerf joke book in the house when I was a kid, but he was also a standby in crossword grids.)

Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Redundantly Speaking," provides an assortment of redundant phrases. A [Vacuum, redundantly] is an EMPTY SPACE, and SPACE itself is empty. (Though plenty of spaces can be filled—there are empty spaces in parking lots if you're lucky, and you can render one space non-empty.) [Mix, redundantly] is BLEND TOGETHER; you can't very well blend something apart. A [Gismo, redundantly] might be called a NEW INNOVATION, but an innovation is ipso facto something new. [Sum, redundantly] is GRAND TOTAL; now, I can see SUM TOTAL being redundant, but I'm not sure why GRAND TOTAL counts as such. You might have a receipt with a pretax subtotal, and after tax and tip are added, you have the GRAND TOTAL. I guess TOTAL is deemed to be so, well, total that the GRAND part is unnecessary, but it doesn't seem to fit with BLEND TOGETHER and NEW INNOVATION. (In my head, anyway.)