August 17, 2008

Monday, 8/18

Jonesin' 4:02
CS 3:42
LAT 3:13
NYS 3:02
NYT 2:34

(post updated at 8:51 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. Thursday)

The non-NYT, non-Sun puzzle blogging will likely be delayed. Yours truly has jury duty on Monday, and has been staying up late watching the Olympics and then sleeping in each morning, so getting downtown by 8:30 is a tall order. I'd better pack my messenger bag with puzzles tonight to make sure I'm all set...

Paula Gamache is on a roll with fun early-week puzzles in the New York Times. This time, her theme is a DEADHEAD (63-Across), and dead can head each of the words in the other five theme answers:

  • [1981 film starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner] is BODY HEAT. Dead body, a dead heat.
  • [Hoopster's complete miss] is an AIR BALL. A broadcaster's dead air, a dead ball.
  • [Z, alphabetically] is the LAST LETTER. It's not much of a stand-alone phrase, but dead last and the dead letter office are absolutely "in the language."
  • [Painted highway divider] is the CENTER LINE. Dead center, deadline.
  • [Touchdown site] is the END ZONE. Dead end, dead zone or The Dead Zone.
Clues of note:
  • [From a different perspective, in chat room lingo] is OTOH, or "on the other hand." Why do I keep seeing clues that specify chat rooms? I suspect the vast majority of OTOH usage is in blogs, e-mail, IM, text messages, and discussion boards, and much less in chat rooms.
  • SHADOW is clued [Peter Pan lost his]. Really? Not sure I knew that.
  • LASER TAG is a [Team game with infrared-sensitive targets]. My son loved it when he played for the first time this summer.
  • I don't know anyone who uses the term ECOCARS to describe [High-m.p.g. vehicles], but such cars sure are getting more popular now.
  • MR. TOAD is ["The Wind in the Willows" amphibian].
  • [Sedated, perhaps] means ON MEDS.
  • The [Title girl in a 1983 Kool & the Gang hit] is JOANNA.
  • THE WAVE! It's a [Motion made by fans in a stadium], provided that those fans are a bit dorky en masse.

Alan Arbesfeld's New York Sun crossword, "Embodiment of Nature," uses an expanded 15x16 grid to accommodate the theme entries. The theme entries are phrases in which one word is a body part and another is a natural feature. For example, BERT PARKS includes the anatomical Bert and some state PARKS. No, just kidding. That one's not a theme entry. Neither is DOVETAIL, though tail can be considered a body part.
  • RIVER MOUTH is a [Delta locale].
  • FOOTHILLS are the [Region at the base of a mountain range].
  • A BEACHHEAD is the [Landing spot for naval forces].
  • [Cayuga or Seneca, e.g.] is a FINGER LAKE. 
  • NECK OF THE WOODS, or [Neighborhood], includes two small words between the nature and body part words.


Jury duty was great. Four hours to sit quietly and do puzzles, with a leisurely hour and a half for lunch? Good citizenship never felt so good.

The Across Lite version of the LA Times crossword is taking the day off, perhaps. Tuesdays are busy for me, but I hope to catch up on the LAT tomorrow.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "Hit the Bricks," has a "Super Mario Bros." theme. Yup, a videogame I've never played features a STAR CHAMBER, MUSHROOM CLOUD, and FLOWER CHILD. All the TIRAMISU and '80s HEADBANDs in the world can't make up for a theme that is, for all the good it did me, "random phrases that fit." (Sigh.)

Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Common Sense Solutions," is the second one I've done today with a five-senses theme. (The other one hasn't been published yet—I was doing a little test-solving at jury duty this morning.) The five theme entries begin with TASTE, HEAR, SMELL, TOUCH, and SEE. Tons of 7-letter answers in the fill surrounding the theme entries—and one of them made zero sense to me. PUTOUTS are [Many tag plays]? I suspect baseball, but can't say for sure because I've never heard the term.

Updated again on Thursday:

I finally got around to the previously missing LA Times crossword. It's credited to Gia Christian, an anagram of "it's Rich again," or editor Rich Norris. The five theme entries are mopey, or at least they begin with synonyms of that. There's a DEPRESSED MARKET, LOW BUDGET, SAD EXCUSE, BLUE BLOOD, and DOWN UNDER—all of which use their synonyms in non-tristesse contexts. The tricky spots for beginners tackling a Monday puzzle are clumped together in the lower right corner: [Old dagger] is SNEE; [Lyric poem] is EPODE; OLEO is a [Bread spread], and UCLAN is [USCer's rival]. Elsewhere there's also OMOO, the [Melville novel set on Tahiti].