August 26, 2008

Wednesday, 8/27

NYS 4:07
LAT 3:48
NYT 3:17
CS 3:03

I am officially out of sorts. Discombobulated by (1) a medical procedure and (2) two margaritas (administered for medicinal purposes, I assure you), I find myself feeling pesci (this household's word for nonspecific stomach upset, borrowed from a "Wayne's World" segment on SNL) and unable to hit the correct keys on the keyboard. Tomorrow will be better, but right now? Not so hot.

The New York Times puzzle by Donna Hoke Kahwaty teased me with the first long Across answer, FOOTLOOSE. "1980s movies that are also phrases!" I thought. Nope, that one's not a theme entry. The theme entries double the first 3-letter word in a phrase to transform it into something new:

  • PAWPAW PRINTS are [Some fruit still lifes?]. My eyeballs picked up a mention of fruit flies.
  • CANCAN OPENER is a [Showy dance intro?].
  • [Gobbler in a powwow musical group?] is a TOM-TOM TURKEY.
  • [Chocolate's journey?] is BONBON VOYAGE. I'd like to buy two tickets, please.

I would've broken the 3-minute mark, which always delights me on a Wednesday puzzle, save for the errant L replacing the K in TSK and KNACK. Three favorite entries here: the SLURPEE is a [7-Eleven cooler]; TYBALT was the [Capulet murdered by Romeo], Juliet's cousin; and [Sweating the small stuff] means NITPICKY. I also like that the longest nonthematic fill, FOOTLOOSE and IN AMERICA,, double as movie titles.

Joon Pahk's second published puzzle is "Divine Intervention" in the New York Sun. The theme is quite similar to one a friend had cooked up a few months ago, with at least two identical theme entries, each containing a hidden NORSE (53-Down) GOD (58-Across) within:
  • Odin is in MOOD INDIGO, [Classic jazz composition by Duke Ellington and Barney Bigard].
  • [Boundary of a black hole] is an EVENT HORIZON, which is a term I learned from a bad sci-fi movie.
  • MAJORITY RULE is a [Common political principle].
  • My favorite Norse deity is Loki the trickster, who hides here in HELLO KITTY ([Friend of the penguin Badtz-Maru] is a frightfully obscure clue, though).

Plenty of Scrabbly fill—GIZA atop AJAX, Al ROKER beside an E-ZINE. Citrus fruit not called orange—POMELOS, or [Large citrus fruits]. [Nickname for a fast woman] is specific to Florence Griffith Joyner, or FLO-JO. [Result of a hook-and-eye connection?] isn't Velcro but a SHINER, or black eye. The [City hard by Vance AFB] is ENID, OK; I'm always partial to those city/state entries.


I'm feeling much better this morning. Barry Silk's LA Times crossword has some abbreviations that might slow you down ([U.S. Army E-6's] are SSGTS, the IGN. is [Place for a key: Abbr.], [640 acres: Abbr.] is a SQ. MI., and that [Volkswagen hatchback] is the GTI, which might not be an abbreviation), a theme that didn't dawn on me until after the grid was completely filled in, and plenty of Scrabbly answers. The latter group includes XENA the Warrior Princess, a Lucy [Lawless TV role]; BUXOM crossing OXEN; YUCKY and a WALTZ; Mt. FUJI and a...QUAG? [Bog, for short] isn't just a shortening of quagmire; my Mac's dictionary includes the archaic quag, meaning "a marsh or boggy place," and says it dates back to the late 16th century (as does quagmire).

What about the theme? JOE MONTANA, the [Quarterback on the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team], shares his name with the state of Montana, whose nickname is Big Sky Country. Thus:
  • [Succeeds in spades] is MAKES IT BIG.
  • ["Ole" phenomenon in a Carmichael classic] is BUTTERMILK SKY.
  • And [Homeland] is MOTHER COUNTRY.

The CrosSynergy puzzle by Martin Ashwood-Smith, "Dark Humor," should've taken a good bit longer than most CrosSynergies since it's got a quote theme, but the clues for the fill were mostly straightforward and easy. The quote is a "Will Rogers observation": EVERYTHING IS / FUNNY AS LONG / AS IT'S / HAPPENING TO / SOMEBODY ELSE. The only answer that was completely unfamiliar to me was STALL-FEED, or [Fatten for market, as cattle]. That's happening to somebody else, not me, but...still not funny. (Sympathetic "moo" here.) There are just two question-marked clues: [Pull some strings?] is to SEW, and [Leaves the office early?] is RESIGNS, not just leaving work at 4:00 instead of 5:00.