July 07, 2008

Tuesday, 7/8

Tausig 5:32
Onion 4:59
NYS 3:37
Wed. LAT 3:22
Tues. LAT 3:00
CS 2:51
NYT 2:35

Andrea Michaels' New York Times crossword has the [End of a Napoleonic palindrome] smack-dab in the middle of the theme entries. Is this palindrome something that's at all familiar to the non-crossword crowd? Two words of it, the partial phrase ERE I, pop up fairly often in puzzles, clued as ["___ saw Elba"]. Here, Andrea delivers ERE I SAW ELBA, leaving the "Able was I" beginning on the cutting room floor. The other four theme entries begin with homophones of ERE—we get AIR JORDAN basketball shoes ([Big name in athletic shoes]), the HEIR TO THE THRONE ([Prince], but not the "Purple Rain" one), an AIREDALE TERRIER ([Black-and-tan purebred]), and AER LINGUS, the air [Carrier with a shamrock logo]. I'm afraid I must dock the puzzle 5 points for AIRE being inextricable from DALE when the other homophones are stand-alone words. I'll add 10 points for loading the fill with ZINGER ([Clever comeback]), EURAIL ([Provider of a pass abroad]), SUBPOENA (a word I can seldom type correctly on the first try, clued as [Court summons]), and [Puff the Magic Dragon's frolicking place] HONALEE (no, the song's not about pot).

David Kahn's New York Sun puzzle is a non-timely tribute to two people. (Non-timely in that today's not a key date on which this theme needed to run, and none of the awards in question were just bestowed.) The theme includes RICHARD / RODGERS and MARVIN / HAMLISCH, who are the two people who have won all five of the awards in this puzzle: the PULITZER / PRIZE, GRAMMY, TONY, OSCAR, and EMMY. With 60 squares in 10 entries strewn around the grid (in symmetrical chunks), it's a meaty theme. Mel TORME (44-Down) is surely envious of RODGERS and HAMLISCH's accomplishments; RINGO Starr (["Help!" name]) was once bigger than Jesus, so his envy is at bay. Favorite clues: the hidden plural of [Bhutanese, e.g.] for ASIANS; [Hole in a sweater?] for a PORE. The least familiar answer for me is LEONIA, a [New Jersey town bordering Teaneck]; this borough has less than 9,000 people, but look at all the famous people who've passed through.


Usually the LA Times crossword is posted by now, but I got a 404 Not Found page when I clicked its link at Cruciverb.com. Maybe later...

Nancy Salomon's CrosSynergy crossword, "Thrill Seeking," redefines various phrases to emphasize their first words, all idiomatic synonyms for "thrill." Get a kick out of KICK BOXING, a rush out of RUSH HOUR, a high out of a HIGH BAR, a buzz from a BUZZWORD, and a charge out of a CHARGE CARD. It's been a while since I've seen OSIER, or [Willow branch], in a crossword, but it used to show up much more often. That and ORIEL, a bay window sort of thing—and it was hard to remember which was which.

Updated again, Tuesday afternoon:

Hah! Dan Naddor's Wednesday LA Times crossword has the same kind of theme as the NYT: phrases that begin with homophones. It's a lovely puzzle, with five multicultural theme entries and a bunch of 7- and 9-letter answers in the fill. THAI CUISINE [usually includes a fish sauce called nam pla]. TY PENNINGTON is the oft-sleeveless ["Extreme Makeover" Home Edition" host]. TAE KWON DO is the [National sport of South Korea], though a less specific clue would have been good since KOREA is in the fill. TAI BABILONIA was a [Five-time U.S. Figure Skating Championships gold medalist]. And as the men's Wimbledon final demonstrated, [Some sets end in them] means TIE-BREAKERS. Four of the theme entries are laid out in stacked pairs, which is impressive. For my age cohort, the [Veep between Harry and Dick] is not too familiar: ALBEN Barkley was Truman's V.P. FMy favorite fill: the anachronistic SPEED-DIAL (there's no rotary dialing happening there); ESPIONAGE with a tricky clue (James [Bond activity?]); RATIONS clued as [Restricted fare?]; and the song "GET A JOB." I appreciated other clues, too: [White-collar worker?] for CLERIC; [Instant success?] for SANKA instant coffee; and [One in need of a lift] for SKIER.

The theme in Tyler Hinman's Onion A.V. Club crossword took some time (and plenty of crossings) to emerge. Four theme entries are two-word phrases in which the first word ends with the same letter the second one begins with—FROM MEMORY and DRUM MAJOR wed M's, while RELIEF FUND and SNUFF FILM (eww) wed F's. These paired M's and F's are, of course, SAME-SEX MARRIAGE—[What the connections between words in 18-, 24-, 50-, and 59-Across celebrate]. Nice! The constructor recently moved to California, where same-sex marriage was recently legalized. Tyler probably knows all about 5-Down, the sunscreen SPF clued with [A redhead might look for a high one: Abbr.], given his ginger hair. EMANUEL AX, [Yo-Yo Ma's frequent musical partner], should really play electric guitar (a.k.a. an ax). The last spots I figured out in this puzzle were the [Word often abbreviated as a letter and a number], CANINE (as in police K-9 units), and the vague [Mass unit], or CARAT. The only [The Police tribute band] that came to mind was Scrantonicity, from The Office, but it turns out to be STUNG. Fun clue for a Roman numeral: XXI is the [Legal drinking age at Caesar's palace?]. Favorite fill: LYMON, or [Sprite flavor], because my husband still wears his early-'80s t-shirt featuring the Sprite lymon graphic. (Alas, the shirt has some small holes.) I didn't know ROBIN was a [Canadian "How I Met Your Mother" character], that DREW could be [Major Leaguer Stephen or J.D.], or that TYRA Banks had [yelled "Kiss my FAT ASS!"]. The clue [On the prowl, perhaps] appears several spaces past the [Puma's rival] clue, leading me to think of prowling cats. Nope, Tyler meant SINGLE and looking for love.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "You Can't Say That on Television," pays tribute to the late GEORGE CARLIN and his famed routine about the seven dirty words you can't say on TV. There are four theme entries in which four 4-letter words embedded within phrases are bleeped out with four X's. Say hello is expurgated to SAY XXXXO ([Greets with a "hello"]).* Badminton [Birdies] are shuttlecocks, or SHUTTLEXXXXS. [Impressionist Camille] Pissarro becomes XXXXARRO. And the [Caveat after a financial warning] is BUXXXX YOUR MONEY. Let's see...DGET isn't a 4-letter word. Bufart, buf*ck...no. I had to consult Wikipedia to figure this one out. But it's your money is the original phrase. Ben definitely has some major-league constructing chops, as he managed to get reasonable fill despite the 16 X's in the theme entries—and he even added two non-theme X's in XBOX for good measure.

Updated yet again, Tuesday evening:

All righty, the LA Times crossword that was delivered to my desktop when I clicked the link at Cruciverb was tomorrow's puzzle, and that's never happened before. (Thanks to those who alerted me. Alas, I was away/busy and couldn't do anything about it until now. D'oh!) The actual Tuesday LA Times crossword is by Donna Levin, and the theme is rather mushy—nay, pulverized: each theme entry ends with a synonym for, basically, "pulverize." A [Yellow-skinned autumn vegetable] is BUTTERNUT SQUASH, a [Top-grossing film] is a BOX-OFFICE SMASH, an [English pub dish] is BANGERS AND MASH, and a [Teen infatuation] is a HIGH-SCHOOL CRUSH.

* Commenter Beth has spurred another "D'oh!" today. I parsed the first theme entry in the Tausig puzzle all wrong. The verb tense demands an S after SAY, and it's all right to say "hell" on TV. The Xed-out phrase is SAYS HI TO, with the S HI T bleeped out. (Thanks, Beth!)