August 25, 2008

Tuesday, 8/26

Tausig 5:26
NYS 4:10
Onion 4:01
CS 3:17
NYT 3:04
LAT 2:43

(last updated at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday)

Nancy Salomon's New York Times crossword parks itself in the Tuesday puzzle sweet spot. The theme is easy enough—three diverse phrases all clued the same way—there's nothing too obscure muddling it for Tuesday solvers, and a dozen 7- and 8-letter answers freshen the non-theme fill. The three [Rose] answers are the AMERICAN BEAUTY rose, as in the flower; baseball player Pete Rose's nickname, CHARLIE HUSTLE; and the past-tense verb meaning TOOK TO ONE'S FEET.

Clues and answers of note:

  • [Some spears] was the clue that confused me for the longest; it's the loathed BROCCOLI.
  • [Put down] could mean a few different things, such as writing an answer down, laying an object down, or trying to BAD-MOUTH someone.
  • HYSTERIA is [What 1938's "The War of the Worlds" broadcast set off].
  • [Yadda yadda yadda] can mean ET CETERA.
  • Geography! [Its capital is Hamilton] refers to BERMUDA.
  • BUSBOYS can be [Waiters' aides].
  • A SHEET, as in that percale or flannel thing in your bed, is a [Cover of night?].
  • Harking back a few days to Olympic track events, BATONS answer the clue [They're relayed in relays].

Alan Arbesfeld constructed the New York Sun puzzle, "Pick-Me-Ups." The theme answers don't contain bracing tonics; rather, each one is a phrase that picks up a ME, changing the meaning. The six (!) theme entries are as follows:
  • [When water parks make their money?] is in FLUME SEASON.
  • Conga lines turn into CON-GAME LINES, such as ["It's easy, pal—just keep track of the shell with the pea" and others?].
  • To [Embarrass grandma?] is to SHAME NANA (Sha Na Na). It's not nice to do that.
  • [Motto of indoor stadium advocates?] is DOME OR DIE. Anyone else take a wrong turn with DOME RIGHT? No? Just me?
  • [Coin featuring Sleeping Beauty?] is a PRINCESS DIME.
  • Actor Lee Majors becomes MELEE MAJORS, [Ones getting a degree in riot control?].

In the fill, Arbesfeld's crossword includes four X's, which pleases me. The BATON, or [Relay race handoff], is back again. Favorite clues and answers: SIGN HERE is [Words on a sticky note attached to a contract; [Marks with subscript dots] mystified me, but I certainly know what STETS look like; [It might have a certain ring to it] means a bath TUB; [It gets put in a sinkhole] refers to DRANO in a household sink drain; PETER is the name of the [Boy in "The Snowy Day"] by Ezra Jack Keats; and [Like soy sauce] sure as hell means SALTY.


Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Class Exercise," serves up an exercise in which you fill in five phrases that start with words that can precede class:
  • [Rainy day restlessness, perhaps] is CABIN FEVER. What's "cabin class"? Google to the rescue: it's the cruise ship accommodations level below first.
  • [White House title] is FIRST LADY (first class). If the nation's first female president is married, has the protocol been ironed already to label her husband this way? "First gentleman"?
  • [Reason for taking statins] is HIGH CHOLESTEROL (high class).
  • [Fundamentalist region] is the BIBLE BELT (bible class).
  • [Farewell dance] is the SENIOR PROM, for the senior class.
Anyone know ["Cavalleria Rusticana" composer Mascagni]'s first name without crossings? I did not; it's PIETRO. [1107, in old Rome] is MCVII—if only the last I hadn't been in a theme entry, it could have been changed to an E for Fleetwood Mac's Christine and John McVie.

Donna Levin's LA Times crossword hides an archery theme:
  • STRAIGHT ARROW is a [Morally upright person].
  • [Violinist's tool] is a FIDDLE BOW.
  • The [Ross Macdonald sleuth] is named LEW ARCHER.
  • [Exactly as projected] means RIGHT ON TARGET.

I'm not sure if the central entry, ENTAILS, is supposed to join the theme. Cursory research suggests that arrows used in archery have fletching (the feathers), not tails, but typographical arrows may have tails.

Beautiful corners in this grid—two quartets of 7-letter answers stand side by side.

Updated again:

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword for the week, "Dropping E," has naught to do with dropping the drug Ecstasy. Nope. In this Friday-tough puzzle, each of the five theme entries jettisons two E's from assorted spots:
  • KARAT BLT'S are [Deli sandwiches with purity measurements?]. Karate belts lose both E's.
  • A [Lusty sound file?] is a SIN .WAV, altered from sine wave.
  • [Potato sack race, essentially?] consists of HOP AGAINST HOP (hope against hope).
  • [Charged air?] is ION SKY, ditching the E's in Ione Skye's name.
  • The trickiest one for me was the [Sensitive tsetse?]. The other theme entries dropped the E's from two words, while this one dropped a double E from one word. TOUCHY FLY derives from touchy-feely, and not touché...yfely.

Unusual entries abound:
  • NGOS, or nongovernmental organizations, are [Int'l aid gps.]. A while back, there was a discussion on Cruciverb-L about whether this abbreviation was familiar enough. If you listen to NPR or the BBC Newshour, it should be.
  • [Longtime Nwe Yorker cartoonist Roz] CHAST is a genius. She and Steve Martin made an ABC book that I love. If you don't want your kid to see a cartoon WINO ([Brown bagger?]) in an ABC book, hide this one from her.
  • [CNN correspondent Octavia]'s last name is NASR. Good thing I know LORAIN is an Ohio town, or I might well have wanted to try LOTAIN or LOHAIN for [Ohio birthplace of Toni Morrison].
  • TANTRA is the [Hindu doctrine with secret sexual rituals]. The word's got five priors in the database, but none of those mention sex.
  • [She may never turn pro] refers to a CON who is against something.
  • SHUL gets a good long clue: [Place that it wouldn't kill you to go one of these Fridays. or maybe you think you're too important for God now?].
  • HOJO is indeed a [Dwindling restaurant/hotel franchise].
  • [2005 Rookie-of-the-Year power forward Emeka] OKAFOR crosses CHAST and the Jungle Book python KAA. I wouldn't have known OKAFOR off the cuff, but the other two names I did know. Fortunately.

I only have a couple minutes to blog about Brendan Emmett Quigley's Onion A.V. Club puzzle. The middle theme entry is HELL ON EARTH. The two long theme entries contain EARTH divided among the words in those phrases, WEAR THE TROUSERS and the perfect SORRY TO HEAR THAT. "Where's the HELL?" you ask. Why, it's sitting directly on top of the EART portion of EARTH, that's where. HELL is hiding in 14-Across, SHELL, above the top theme entry, and in MITCHELL at 55-Across. I've circled 'em for you in the grid image.
Weird answers I didn't know:
  • The AFL is [New York Dragons org.]. What the HELL is the AFL? Ah, I see: Arena Football League. I didn't know that was ever abbreviated.
  • ZEREX is a [Prestone competitor]. While I give props to any company that packs its trade name with a Z and an X, I must dock the company 10 points for not making itself a household name.
  • [Romance novelist Ashworth] is named ADELE. Who?

Apple's ICHAT (or iChat) allows for instant messaging. I rarely use it. Have we seen ICHAT in the grid before?

Time! Cool theme structure, Brendan—it's been a while since I've seen one along these lines.