August 18, 2008

Tuesday, 8/19

Tausig 4:19
Onion 3:47
NYS 3:23
CS 3:15
LAT 3:00
NYT 2:52

(post updated at 9 a.m. Tuesday)

Harriet Clifton's New York Times crossword spells out a star-crossed cell phone conversation: "YOU'RE BREAKING UP." "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?" No, "I DIDN'T CATCH THAT." Okay, "I'LL TRY REDIALING." Only the last one feels off to me—more stilted than, say, "I'm hanging up—I'll call you back." I like the three longish two-word answers in the fill:

  • THREE ON in baseball is equivalent to [Bases loaded].
  • APTLY PUT means [Well said]. Advance one letter and scramble a bit, and you get a platypus. Aptly put, platypus, aptly put.
  • [Opera, ballet, and so on] are THE ARTS.

I briefly had a typo where the [Cherry variety] and [1950s-'70s Yugoslav leader] intersected, and was surprised to see a BONG in the grid. Whoops, that's BING and TITO. Too bad the [Chicken part that's good for soup] isn't the SOUL (it's the NECK)—then those Chicken Soup for the Soul books could be reworked into cookbooks with a different preposition in the title.

In the New York Sun, Patrick Berry's "Final Pairings" has five theme entries that end with two sets of doubled letters. In each case, there's a 3-letter word that follows a longer word.
  • [#2 hit of 1966] is BARBARA ANN.
  • [Easter basket treat] is a CHOCOLATE EGG.
  • ["I'm sure we can think of something..."] equates to "LET'S SEE."
  • The [Famous legal-system denunciation by Mr. Bumble in "Oliver Twist"] is "THE LAW IS A ASS."
  • That [Dodge Charger in "The Dukes of Hazzard," with "the"] is named GENERAL LEE.

Favorite non-theme entries: WANGLE, or [Underhandedly obtain]; CITROEN, or [Car company whose name adorned the Eiffel Tower from 1925 to 1934]; DAREDEVIL, the [Marvel Comics superhero who's blind]; RAIN DELAY, a [Good time to buy some peanuts and Cracker Jack] during a baseball game; and WAS, simply because of the clue, ["And She ___" (Talking Heads song)]. Here's the video for that song.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "Reinventing the Wheel," has five parts of a wheel at the starts of the theme entries:
  • TUBE SURFERS are [UK subway daredevils].
  • TIRE OUT means to [Exhaust].
  • If you [Opened up in front of everybody], you SPOKE TO THE WORLD. 
  • A [Late-night joke accenter] is a RIMSHOT.
  • [Focusing] is BEARING DOWN.

Favorite entries: T.J. MAXX, THE STAND, OXYMORON, MR. BILL, PEE WEE Herman, and a TB TEST.


Deb Amlen's Onion A.V. Club crossword has an entertaining treatment of today's economic doldrums, plus plenty of fun fill and clues. Reasons "to chill at home this summer" include IRS CHECK IS SPENT, GAS PRICES ARE UP, and AIR TRAVEL BLOWS. You may want to just TAKE A STAYCATION instead of traveling. Non-stodgy fill includes PDA, or public display of affection; the SHINS, clued as a [Band that will change your life, according to Natalie Portman in "Garden State"]; ZAC Efron of High School Musical; SPERM aptly clued as [Fertilizer, of a sort]; and a TWIX candy bar (excuse me, cookie bar) with a pop-culture reference to Seinfeld. And LOIS! Anyone who sees this Family Guy clip will never forget her name, nor how annoying toddlers can be. One quibble: LSW isn't a [Mental health service provider's deg.] The MSW, or masters in social work, is the degree. LSW means licensed social worker, and it's a license. [Spirit of Salzburg] is SCHNAPS, which for reasons unknown to me is spelled Schnapps in the U.S. even though it's a German word with one P. I didn't know this, but Wikipedia told me.

Jennifer Nutt's LA Times crossword has a theme I didn't notice while solving, as it's easy enough to be finished without figuring out the theme first. Let's take a look back and see what it is... Okay, the first and last answers are TICK and TOCK, which are sounds a clock makes. The word clock can precede the end of each theme entry:
  • An [Observant hobbyist] is a BIRD WATCHER. Clock watchers wait for 5:00 to roll around at the office.
  • A [Friendly emoticon] is a SMILEY FACE. The clock face is where the numbers go. (Unless it's a Merv Griffin's Crosswords loser's prize watch, in which case it's where the words go because there are no numbers.)
  • [Embroidery, say] is NEEDLEWORK. Efficient things run like clockwork, orange or no.
  • A [Fund-raising campaign broadcaster] is PUBLIC RADIO, and clock radios live on many a bedside table.

My favorite answer in the fill is CROP CIRCLE, or [Pattern in a wheat field, perhaps]. My son's hair is a shaggy mane now (and he wants to take all that hair to school in September), but a few months ago when he considered cutting it really short, he wanted to have crop circles shaved into his hair. It's just as well he grew it out instead. My dentist said she wishes she had his hair.

Sarah Keller's CrosSynergy puzzle didn't grab me today. "Material Guys" features four MEN OF THE CLOTH, with puns on men's names that can include a fabric if you change a vowel pronunciation. (Actor Joseph Cotten is sad that his pun is more direct.) Kevin Neelon turns into KEVIN NYLON. Jonas Salk becomes JONAS SILK; John Lennon, JOHN LINEN; and George Will, GEORGE WOOL. The fill skewed old-school, with such fill as ERWIN the [Field Marshal Rommel]; ENOLA [Gay (WWII plane)]; RERIG, or [Hoist again, as a sail]; and ELVERS, or [Young eels].