August 11, 2008

Tuesday, 8/12

Tausig 5:05
Onion 4:30
NYS 3:20
LAT 3:13
CS 2:50
NYT 2:39

(updated at 9:30 Tuesday morning)

At his blog, Eric Berlin posted a pair of RIghtAngles puzzles he made for the recent National Puzzlers' League convention. Each answer in these 8x8 grids makes a 90° turn somewhere, and each letter appears in two different answers. I've done this kind of puzzle (or something akin to it) in Games, but Eric's clues are tougher—especially in puzzle 2, which is less yielding than puzzle 1. If you like variety-grid puzzles, check out RightAngles.

Ray Fontenot's New York Times crossword seemed much easier than Monday's puzzle to me. The theme takes game shows and changes an L word into a W word:

  • You Bet Your Life turns into YOU BET YOUR WIFE, [TV game show that places spouses at risk?].
  • What's My Line? becomes WHAT'S MY WINE?, [TV game show that quizzes oenophiles?].
  • The Weakest Link ends up as THE WEAKEST WINK, [TV game show that eliminates coy contestants?].

Cute theme! The most impressive fill includes OLD FLAME, or [Former inamorato or inamorata]; SKETCHY, or [Lacking details]; ["Peekaboo" follower], I SEE YOU; and the two-syllable TSK TSK, or ["You should have known better"]. Crossword regulars that Tuesday solvers should try to memorize include Oscar winner LILA Kedrova; ODEA, or [Concert halls of old]; ESAI Morales of NYPD Blue; Hawaii's state bird, the goose called the NENE; ACER is one who serves aces in tennis (back in the day, this was clued as the Maple genus); NEET and Nair, depilatory products; the WWII bomber the ENOLA Gay; ERST, or the word [Once, once]; and YEMEN, [Aden's land].

In the New York Sun, Mark Feldman's "Doughboys" gathers four terms for people that include baked goods. There's a SMART COOKIE, STUDMUFFIN, SWEETIE PIE, and MILQUETOAST. In the fill, DO TO A T ([Performs perfectly]) chafes a bit. Who actually uses this phrase with the "do"? Sure, it makes more sense than DOT OAT would, but still. Favorite clues: [Bridge designer's deg.] for DDS (dental bridges, not bridges over a river); [Wizard of id] for Sigmund FREUD; [Stuff completely] for PLUG UP, as in a nose or pipe and not as in eating a lot; and SAX clued as [Fu Manchu creator Rohmer]. Fairly easy puzzle for a Tuesday Sun, wasn't it?

Byron Walden's responsible for this week's Onion A.V. Club crossword. His theme is adjective + body part phrases in which both words start with B. BULGING BICEPS, or [Curling result], runs down the middle of the puzzle, and the other five theme entries radiate out from it. That and BEER BELLY ([Feature shared by Homer Simpson and Norm Peterson]) are the only ones suitable for a family newspaper. The Onion is a satirical newspaper not intended for children, though, so there's also Sir Mix-a-Lot's BIG BUTTS, a BURSTING BLADDER (or [Going concern?]), the BLUE BALLS common in teen sex comedies, and the [Unsafe sex option] called BAREBACK. This crossword's got just 70 words and includes plenty of answers that are 6+ letters long. Favorite clues and answers:
  • [They're used for shooting stars] for CAMERAS.
  • A [Leatherneck] is a U.S. MARINE.
  • [Phone number, synecdochically] is DIGITS. Gotta love a clue that calls out synecdoche.
  • [Like "poultry in motion"] for PUNNY.
  • [Golfing legend with the given name Samuel Jackson] for Sam SNEAD.
  • [Face difficulty?] for ACNE. (The official anti-acne remedy of this blog is the Desert Essence Blemish Touch Stick with tea trea oil.)
  • [Four-time American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champ Hinman] for TYLER. I love Tyler dearly, but man, it would be nice for someone else to win next year. And not a past winner. Someone new. (But...not someone newer to the ACPT than me.)
  • [King of soul?] for BEN E., as in soul singer Ben E. King.
Least favorite entry: It's a tie. There's the awkward two-word BE DUE, or [Rightfully expect, with "for"], running alongside one theme entry and crossing two others. And then there's the [Urinal cake decoration?], a PUBE.

I didn't figure out the theme in "Turn the Beat Around," Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, until the fourth theme answer. Having recently seen a blog remark somewhere about [Joule division] (that'd be ERG) reminding someone of the band Joy Division, the [Math-lover's sensation?] DIVISION JOY was obviously a band with its two halves flipped. [Pretend to need a sweater?] is PLAY COLD, and Coldplay is the group whose lead singer is married to Gwyneth Paltrow. GARDEN SOUND inverts Soundgarden, who were mocked in the Onion last week. Soundgarden's guitarist was Kim Thayil, who went to my high school a few years before me and whose mom was my junior-high English teacher. The Beach Boys flip to be BOYS' BEACH, or [Gay bathing spot?]. Apparently Chicago's gay beach spot is no longer the Belmont Rocks but rather Andersonville's Hollywood Beach. The final theme entry is POWER CAT, flipping Cat Power.

Favorite clues and answers: [Often-gratuitous metal markings?] are UMLAUTS in heavy metal bands' names (e.g., Mötley Crüe). Gloria STEINEM is clued with [She said: "The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off." "OH, HI" is said to convey ["Hey, I didn't see you there"]. Ohhi is also an Lolcats tag. An IUD [comes with strings attached] but no, you can't hang a bell from the string. Z TILES is clued as [Ten-point draws in Scrabulous (R.I.P.)]. Guess what? At, you can play Scrabulous via e-mail. It's the same ol' Scrabulous, but instead of being parked in Facebook, it sends you an e-mail when it's your turn. Genius!


Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Middlemen," includes three 15-letter entries in which the trio of letters in the exact center is MEN: The DEPARTMENT STORE is a [Shopper's mecca], [Like a tesseract or hypercube] means FOUR-DIMENSIONAL (I am not well-versed in tesseracts or hypercubes), and [1989 protest site in China] is TIANANMEN SQUARE. The center theme entry is bracketed by two 10-letter entries running in parallel, and two Down 10-letter answers intersect two theme entries apiece. Pretty easy clues overall.

Don Gagliardo's LA Times crossword has a HALF-BAKED theme featuring three prefixes that mean "half." An [Espresso serving] is a DEMITASSE. [What a full moon is, really] is a HEMISPHERE. SEMIFINALS are the [Penultimate March Madness round]. Favorite clues and answers follow:
  • [Nickelodeon feature] is a COIN SLOT, referring to the old movie machine and not the cable TV channel. My family went to an old-fashioned nickelodeon when I was a kid.
  • GOOD READ is clued as a [Page-turner].
  • TIT FOR TAT means [In equal measure]. Usually, crosswords put one word in the grid and toss the other two into a fill-in-the-blank clue.
  • [Frogs' hangouts] are LILYPADS.