August 19, 2008

Wednesday, 8/20

NYS 4:20
NYT 4:15
CS 3:30
LAT 3:02

(post updated at 11 a.m. Wednesday)

This crossword blogging when the Olympics are on—it's hard work. My attention keeps being yoinked away by feats of athleticism.

The New York Times crossword by Allan Parrish wonders if you know JACK (55-Down). Rather than cluing five theme entries with [Jack], this puzzle goes with [See 55-Down] and makes you get through the far corner of the grid before it all makes sense. The five kinds of jack (all lowercase nouns rather than people named Jack) are:

  • 17-A. LIFTING TOOL. The sort of term that would normally be found only in a crossword clue and not in the grid itself.
  • 11-D. MALE DONKEY. The female donkey's a jenny. An obnoxious woman is never called a jennyass, though.
  • 28-D. PLUG INSERT. Like the LIFTING TOOL, more of a clue-friendly phrase.
  • 29-D. MONEY. I just asked my husband, "You ever call money 'jack'?" He made a disbelieving face and said, "No!" The Oxford American Dictionary folks call it an "informal, dated" usage.
Tougher bits in this puzzle that made it feel like it should be beyond a Wednesday:
  • ["Next" network] is MTV. Okay, I just had a birthday, and suddenly I'm too old to get the MTV clues? (Sigh.)
  • NACRE is an old-school [Inlay material], for furniture and not for dental restorations.
  • EPI is a [Prefix with -cardial], sure. It's not the most common pairing for epi-, that's for sure.
  • WEST is a direction and [Rapper Kanye]. Okay, this one wasn't hard at all for me. I heard a couple minutes of his Lollapalooza show from Lake Shore Drive the other weekend.
  • [Capote wearers] are MATADORS. Nothing to do with Truman Capote.
  • [Marshal under Napoleon] is NEY. I get this NEY mixed up with Josephine TEY, but not with a Turkish BEY.
  • FRED [Gailey of "Miracle on 34th Street"]? Really? What are Mr. Gailey's credentials for Wednesday crosswordworthiness? Fred Savage would have appreciated the shout-out.
Okay, now there's the Olympics and a fire engine trying to make a three-point turn outside my window. Is there actually a fire in the midrise across the street? I don't know. Distractions! ...No, no fire. But when two fire trucks enter a one-way street from opposite directions, somebody's gotta turn around.

BUS DEPOT is a [Commuters' terminus]. CMI is an [Early 10th-century year]. [Gobi greenery] clues OASES. A HIFI is a [Rec room item of old]. Wow, I bet that clue makes 60-year-olds feel ancient.

Lee Glickstein's New York Sun puzzle, "Mixed Emotions," anagrams assorted emotions that appear at the end of common phrases:
  • Love gets mixed up for EVERLASTING VOLE, or [Immortal rodent?].
  • Road rage scrambles the emotion to become ROAD GEAR, or [Motorcycle helmet and gloves?].
  • Cape Fear becomes CAPE FARE, or [Seafood?].
  • Look Back in Anger turns into LOOK BACK IN RANGE, or [Peek over one's shoulder before going too far?].
The theme entries don't strike me as particularly entertaining, but there's other stuff to admire:
  • [Unsupported, in a way] surprised me by turning out to be BRALESS.
  • [Like "10," "54," and "300"] is RATED R. All three are numeric movie titles. [2000, e.g.] is a LEAP YEAR, not to be confused with 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • The [Professional wrestling duo] is a TAG TEAM. Imagine if the crossword tournament included some sort of tag teaming. (Dibs on Tyler.)
  • EAST is a [Lyme or Orange preceder] in East Coast town names.
  • [Uncomfortable feelings] are the not-anagrammed BAD VIBES.
  • Holy cow, really? ALPO is the answer to [One of its products features chicken, vegetables, and rotini pasta]?


Evad e-mailed me this morning. First we snarked about the potential lewdness of PLUG INSERT. (If you don't understand why it's lewd, don't ask.) (And I've been thinking: A jack cannot be inserted into a plug, as the plug and jack are both things that get inserted into outlets or ports. If you're inserting a jack into a plug, you're doing it wrong.) Then Evad confessed:
You know what I put in for the Next station? PBS. How sad is that? (I was thinking of Jim Lehrer's show, that I think is now hosted by David Brancaccio?)
Before I had a chance to reply, another note arrived:
Now I see that that's "Now," not "Next"...I was close!
And then this:
And it was Bill Moyers, not Jim Lehrer. I should just stop now (or next).

I love conversations where one person does all the work.

Jason Keller's LA Times crossword has five disparate theme entries that have RED in their exact middles. "So what?" you ask. 69-Across is RARE, a [Steak order with a center like that of 17-, 24-, 38-, 48- and 61-Across]. The theme entries are:
  • STARE DOWN, or [Look better than?]. I like that clue.
  • CLAIRE DANES, or ["Romeo+Juliet" costar].
  • THEODORE DREISER, or ["An American Tragedy" author].
  • SQUARE DANCE, or [Four-couple activity].
  • NOTRE DAME, or [South Bend institution].

This puzzle's the second one I've seen this week that clued PELE as [Athlete dubbed "O Rei do Futebol"]. I don't think I'd seen that clue prior to this week. Entries I like: SET A DATE, or [Make initial wedding plans]; DAN ROWAN, ["Laugh-In" co-host]; and the intersecting daughters of Archie Bunker and Jawaharlal Nehru, GLORIA and INDIRA ([Bunker daughter] and [Jawaharlal's daughter], respectively).

Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Wild Pitches," is built around a quip theme: I'D BRING IN A LOT OF / DOUGH SELLING / "NO SOLICITING" / SIGNS DOOR TO DOOR. My grandma had a "no solicitors" decal on the front door when I was a kid, and I didn't quite understand it. When I heard the word soliciting used in reference to prostitution, that didn't clear things up at all. Speaking of things from my grandma's generation, RAID is clued as [Foray into the girls' dorm, maybe]. Has anyone heard of a panty raid or other organized raid on women's dorm rooms being perpetrated in the last 25 years? I bet not. SHIH is clued as [___ Tzu], which obligates me to post this picture: