October 19, 2008

Monday, 10/20

CS 3:06
NYT 2:56
Jonesin' 2:54
LAT 2:49
Sun 2:36

Daniel Raymon debuts as a New York Times crossword creator with his CHANGE DIRECTION puzzle. Did you realize that the four cardinal directions can all be anagrammed into other words? I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some other version of this theme has been done before. Each of four theme entries is a two-word made-up phrase with one direction word and its anagram, with north, south, east, and west states in the clues:

  • NORTH THORN might be a [Prickle in Alaska?].
  • WEST STEW could be a [Simmered dish in California?].
  • EAST SEAT is a [Chair in Maine?].
  • SOUTH SHOUT is clued as a [Scream in Alabama?].
Aw, too bad WEST STEW is on the eastern side of the grid and EAST SEAT on the west. Perhaps the constructor tried the grid that way and the fill didn't wish to cooperate. Those two theme entries are sandwiched around the central answer, CHANGE DIRECTION, which restricted the flexibility of the surrounding fill. That fill is notable for the inclusion of a half dozen 8- and 9-letter answers. There's a CASE STUDY, or [Examined example]; PRAGMATIC, or [Hardheaded]; STOCKHOLM, or a [Capital on the Baltic Sea]; and a lovely DAFFODIL, clued poetically as the [Flower in Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud"].


I hit the sack early last night and slept for 10 hours, so I didn't see the Sun puzzle until this morning. I feel refreshed, but apparently my sinuses don't care how much sleep I got.

Caleb Madison's Sun crossword, "Water World," is among the easiest Sun puzzles ever. It's rare that an early-week Sun puzzle feels easier than the NYT. The theme entries are five movie titles that begin or end with bodies of water, and they alternate between beginning and ending. LAKE PLACID was a goofball horror/comedy movie about a man-eating crocodile in the lake. MYSTIC RIVER and SEABISCUIT were Oscar bait, but the latter wasn't about a body of water. RESERVOIR DOGS...did a reservoir figure into the movie at all? PEARL HARBOR, of course, relates to said harbor. I like the two corners with four 6-letter entries stacked together—that's not a Mondayish look.

Rich Norris's alter ego Lila Cherry (whom I picture as General Hospital's Lila Quartermaine—old, genteel, no-nonsense—though Rich himself does not look like a Lila) constructed today's LA Times crossword. The puzzle's easy, but the theme entries didn't leap out at me as being connected until I made sense of the unifying entry at 71-Across, HOOPS, or [This puzzle's theme, familiarly]. The other four theme entries begin with four things basketball players do:
  • DRIBBLE GLASS is a [Practical joke item that gets you wet].
  • PASS-FAIL is a [Two-grade system].
  • To JUMP BAIL is to [Leave the bondsman in the lurch].
  • To SHOOT ONE'S WAD is to [Spend it all].
Anyone else try TIED for [Playing a fifth qtr., say]? The abbreviation of "qtr." signaled an abbreviation in the answer, of course, but I don't recall seeing INOT (in OT, or overtime) in a crossword before.

The CrosSynergy crossword called "Cinderella Story" is by Randall Hartman. Each of the theme entries begins with a word that figures into the Cinderella tale:
  • In football the [Running back] is a BALL CARRIER. Cinderella went to the ball.
  • Also present at the ball was a prince, and PRINCE CASPIAN is a [C.S. Lewis hero] in the Narnia books.
  • Cinderella wore those glass slippers, and a SLIPPER CLUTCH is a [Racing motorcycle mechanism] that I suspect most of us have never heard of.
  • Cinderella's carriage was made from a magically transformed pumpkin, and a PUMPKINHEAD is a [Doofus]. It's also a series of horror movies.
A couple clues for long fill required me to wait for a lot of crossings to guess the answer. [The nuts, in Texas hold 'em] is a ROYAL FLUSH. Poker slang is not my forte. [Like a Jedi] clues TELEPATHIC. Star Wars arcana are also not my forte.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "So Cute," has four phrases that begin with baby animal names:
  • BUNNY SLOPE is the [Beginning skier's site]. I don't know the etymology of the phrase, but I know rabbits don't ski.
  • PUPPY POWER is [Scrappy Doo's catchphrase]. I never paid any mind to the puppy stand-in for Scooby Doo. This theme entry sticks out a little because PUPPY actually means a young dog here, whereas the other three theme entries use the young terms in non-animal contexts.
  • CHICK MAGNET is a [Guy who's easily able to attract]. Is there a term for a chick magnet's gay male counterpart? Chick here refers to a woman and not a baby chicken.
  • The [Nancy Reagan biographer] is KITTY KELLEY, a grown woman and not a baby cat.
I know I said last week that I was shifting Jonesin' blogging to Tuesdays, but hey, the puzzle arrived in the morning and I'm busy procrastinating on a work project, so here it is. Overall, a lively puzzle with non-stodgy fill and clues. There's a typo in one of the clues in ym copy of the puzzle: [It's for children, in a Pat Benetar song]. The answer is HELL, and the singer is Pat Benatar. The song's about child abuse.