May 06, 2008

Wednesday, 5/7

NYS 5:32
Tausig 5:18
Onion 5:17
CS 4:07
NYT 4:03
LAT 3:58

The Onion and Tausig puzzles just landed in my in-box a few minutes ago, but I'm far too sleepy to tend to those tonight. I'll blog 'em here in the Wednesday post come morning.

I am also too sleepy to do the New York Sun puzzle tonight. As for pub trivia...don't ask.

The New York Times crossword by Richard Silvestri is reminiscent of Tuesday's Sun puzzle in that it repurposes professional sports team names. This time, I think they all reference baseball teams, though there are also football Cardinals and Giants. The theme entries are phrases that start with words that are also team names. [Musial's 6 and Gibson's 45?] are CARDINAL NUMBERS (I tried to find a photo of Gibson wearing a Cardinals jersey, but only found pictures with lesser-known teams, maybe all Negro League outfits). [Pregame practice in Cincinnati?] is RED PEPPER. Cincinnati Reds, yes, but PEPPER? I don't get it. Do baseball teams "pep"? [AT&T Park standout?] is a GIANT STAR. And the best of the theme entries, MET EXPECTATIONS, is clued with [Prospects for a New York pennant?]. Favorite clues and answers: [Big jerk] for SPASM; [One of TV's "Two and a Half Men"] for ALAN (Jon Cryer's character, and not Alan Alda!); [Inspiration for "Rent"] for LA BOHEME; [Man of Principle?] for PETER; and [I might signify this] for Roman numeral ONE. Least favorite: [Go too far onstage] for EMOTE. Apparently Will Shortz remains fond of the overacting clues for EMOTE no matter how many times I complain about it. Dullest: [City in central Missouri], or SEDALIA. By the way, I lost a half a minute meandering through the grid in search of my typo—I had TUDT for TUFT, [Clump of grass].


Pardon the delay in posting the other five puzzles—I awoke today achy and feverish.

"Tucked In" is the name of Tony Orbach's fun New York Sun crossword puzzle, and each theme entry has tucked one word into BED. Lend a hand, Ann Curry, last chance, egg white, and oil change are the roots of the theme. I liked BANNED CURRY, or [Made a harsh restaurant decree in India?], the best. (Curry, yum.) [Disinfected coins] presents a good visual: BOILED CHANGE. (Given how germy money is, I'd wager that someone somewhere has literally boiled their change.) The fill has an informal spoken language vibe to it, with NO DUH, TUSHIE, GASBAG, and WALLOP. I've never seen the UVULA referred to as [Throat "punching bag"], but it's certainly apt. Favorite clues: [Chow line?] for LEASH; [Surname of literary characters Noah, Tom, Al, Rosasharn, Ruthie, and Winfield] for JOAD (never read Grapes of Wrath, so the crossings helped me here); and [Duvall film role of 1980] for OYL (raise your hand if you had Robert, not Shelley, in mind).

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Going Green," instructs us to USE LESS and to have less USE in the theme entries. Favorite theme entries: "WAFFLE, HO!" (Waffle House), or ["Avast, prepare the syrup!"?] and PREGNANT PA (pause), or [Biologically confusing situation down on the farm?]. Most sparkling fill: GAPKIDS, GO-TO GUY, and KILLJOY. Favorite clues: [Deceleratrix (a la Mr. Burns)] for BRAKE; [Bum] for BOTTOM; ["Juiced" author Canseco] for JOSE (he sounds like a loon); [Gay feeling?] for PRIDE; [Editor's insert] for EM DASH—and I do like a judicious em dash—and [Sprinter Owens who embarrassed Hitler] for JESSE. I don't know how often A-CUP is a girl's [First bra, perhaps]; I believe a great many of us began with the AA or AAA kid stuff.

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Onion A.V. Club puzzle looks to have just two theme entries crossing in the middle: BLACKBERRY JAM ([Smartphone signal problem?]) and PALM TREE JUSTICE ([What one achieves by smashing one's malfunctioning smartphone against a branch?]), both playing on names of PDAs. The phrase PALM TREE JUSTICE managed to escape my notice completely until today—is this something everyone but me is familiar with? Funniest clue: [Presidential also-ran who last logged into his MySpace on January 4, 2008] for JOE BIDEN. Toughest clues: [Harlem Renaissance figure Locke] for ALAIN; [Hair loss] for ALOPECIA, perhaps, for those of you not up on medical terminology; [Like infants and beers] for NURSABLE (though I can't imagine anyone describing either with that word); [Tommy Pickles' little brother on "Rugrats"] for DIL (I actually remembered the answer this time, but it has bitten me before); [Marauders] for BANDITTI; [Direction toward which the wind blows] for LEESHORE; ["Dancing with the Stars" judge Goodman] for LEN (who?); and [Shoes once associated with MC Hammer and Public Enemy, briefly] for BKS; [Like the most daring trapeze stunts] for NETLESS (like NURSABLE, not a word that seems natural). I loved the "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" character Miss YVONNE. Three album or song titles in the grid may have been gimmes to people who listen to more post-1990 music than I do: GISH, AMNESIAC, and IN DA CLUB.

Ray Hamel (who, by the way, has a giant website linking crosswords from around the world, and I'm not sure why I've never linked to this in the sidebar—must remedy that!) has today's CrosSynergy crossword, "We Are the Champions." The theme entries are three 15-letter things all clued as [CHAMPION]: GENE AUTRY'S HORSE, a KIRK DOUGLAS FILM, and a STUDEBAKER MODEL. This theme makes me feel frightfully young. That lyric from the titular song, "no time for losers," does happen to have 15 letters, but this crossword isn't a tribute to Queen and Freddie Mercury.

David Cromer's LA Times crossword has four theme entries that end with types of ENGINES: READY TO FIRE, HEAD OF STEAM, NEW YORK JET, and STAR SEARCH. Speaking of search engines, guess who just landed a job at Google? One Tyler Hinman. Google sounds like a phenomenal company to work for, and it's such a good opportunity for Tyler that I won't even hassle him for abandoning our trivia team. Back to the puzzle: My favorite clue, of course, was [Infernal types] for FIENDS. Personally, I find that fiendishness matches up well with BLISS ([Cloud-nine feeling]) and PEACE ([Tranquility]).