October 13, 2008

Tuesday, 10/14

CS 4:11
Jonesin' 3:33
Sun 3:30
LAT 3:00
NYT 2:41

Sun update: The Sun crossword subscription mechanism is now in place at Cruciverb. When submitting your PayPal payment, be sure to use the e-mail address you use for Cruciverb, or you won't be able to access the puzzle without contacting Kevin McCann at Cruciverb. (D'oh. No puzzle for me yet.) The cost is $12.50, or $20 for the "patron amount." Note: You need to be registered as a Cruciverb member (for free) before you subscribe to the Sun puzzles.

Barnes & Noble has a new video magazine series, Barnes & Noble Tagged. This week's short episode focuses on puzzle books and Will Shortz, and Will chats with host Molly Pesce. (You get a brief glimpse of Patrick Blindauer and Frank Longo, too.) One of the interview topics is KenKen puzzles, which I've done some version of in a Games publication. Unlike sudoku but like kakuro, there's arithmetic involved. I'll buy one of the kids' books for my son when it comes out in December.

Lucy Gardner Anderson's New York Times crossword pays tribute to a highway, INTERSTATE / NINETY-FIVE to be specific. I didn't know if I'd ever been on I-95, so I followed its route using Google Maps. Hey! The highway you take to get from LaGuardia Airport to Stamford, Connecticut is I-95, so I have been on it. This road takes you from Maine (ME) down to Florida (FL), passing through 13 other states on the way. All 15 states' 2-letter postal abbreviations are circled in the grid, and there's one in each row in proper north-to-south order. Cool, eh? Mind you, it wasn't so hard to finish the puzzle with zero idea where I-95 went.

Favorite answers and clues: a BON MOT is a [Bit of wit]. [Rolling Stones drummer Charlie] WATTS always seemed like the sanest Stone to me. [Nancy Drew author Carolyn] KEENE summons to mind the YouTube video I saw today, "There's No One As Irish As Barack O'Bama," because the song was written by Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys. LENNY is clued as [Bruce or Kravitz]; hey, Lenny Kravitz's daughter has a pro-Obama video out there. DEFINE is defined as [Do lexicographical work]. A [User-edited online reference] is a WIKI. You know my objection to PORK, that [Much-criticized Congressional spending]? It is neither kosher nor halal. (You can have your PORK and your OFFAL, or [Butcher's byproducts]. Please. Take my share, too.) Move over, Cheryl Tiegs; Cheryl LADD of the '70s TV show Charlie's Angelsl has given you the boot.

Old-school crossword stuff: ANENT means [Concerning]. STEROL is an [Unsaturated alcohol] and another word I think used to get more play in crosswords. SMITTY was an [Old Walter Berndt comic strip about a teen]. It ran from 1922 to 1973, which explains why I don't recall it.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "You're Out!", compiles a group of things "dropped from the world of sports and games in 2008":

  • This one's news to me. The [Seattle team that became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008] is the SUPERSONICS. They moved already? I didn't know that was a done deal.
  • SCRABULOUS was a [Popular Facebook word game removed due to copyright violations]. Sigh. I liked Scrabulous. Then there was Scrabulous.com for a while, and I liked playing that via e-mail, but now that's gone too.
  • SEVEN GOLD MEDALS used to be the [Record for an individual athlete at a single Olympic Games that remained unbroken until 2008]. This one sticks out a little for me—a record isn't "dropped," it's broken. (Spitz had seven, Phelps won eight this summer.)
  • The FIFTY-FIFTY was a [Lifeline removed from the latest season of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"]. I hadn't heard.
  • THE LEAD PIPE is [What's missing (and likely retired) from 2008's version of Clue]. One of the new weapons added in its stead is reality-TV humiliation. Not really. But in the new version, Professor Plum is no longer an academic but rather, a video game designer. There's a spa. And the wrench and revolver are out, with poison, a trophy, and a dumbbell in as weapons.
Did you know [Richie Rich's metallic, robotic maid] was called IRONA? I sure didn't. This must not be very well-known because I've never seen this in a crossword, not even with those three juicy vowels.


Merle Baker's LA Times crossword presents a vowel change theme. Each theme entry ends with a P*NS word, and A, E, I, O, and U fill in the blank in sequence:
  • MUFFIN PANS are [Bakery cookware].
  • BULLPENS are [Warmup places for pitchers] in baseball.
  • LINCHPINS are clued with the description [They secure wheels on axles].
  • LILY PONS was a [Longtime Met coloratura].
  • VISUAL PUNS are [Typical frames from "The Far Side"] comic. 
There are a dozen 7-letter answers in the fill to move the puzzle beyond standard Tuesday fill. I like the Polish intersection between LODZ, [Poland's second-largest city], and the ZLOTY, a [Polish coin].

As usual, Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy puzzle has clues that are tougher than the usual Tuesday crossword. The theme is straightforward—"Canned Pears" alludes to the PEAR "canned" within each theme entry. For example, to WAKE UP EARLY is to [Anticipate the alarm], and an ESCAPE ARTIST is [One who gets out a lot]. Toughest clues:
  • [978-1-4027-6507-0, e.g.] is a new 13-digit ISBN that identifies a book. Which book? I don't know.
  • [Serpentine nickname] is NESSIE. Do serpents have limbs? Is the Loch Ness monster thought to have legs or flippers?
  • [Copper-colored cask contents] alliterates all the way to ALE.
  • A book's [Spine line] is the TITLE.
  • [Nearly nada] is UNO, or one, just one more than nothing/zero/nada.
  • [One of Jack's many?] is a TRADE, as in "Jack of all trades."
  • [Agate or elite] is a size of TYPE.
  • ["What died?" elicitor] is an ODOR.
  • [Like some deserts] is JUST rather than arid or sere.

Updated again:

Tuesdays and Fridays are generally the days when anything I don't get to by 9 a.m. will have to wait until evening. And so it is that I'm only solving the Sun puzzle at 6 p.m. I think I'll relocate the Jonesin' puzzle to Tuesdays, since it comes out sometime on Monday, and boot the Onion and Tausig puzzles to Wednesdays, because those usually come out during the day on Tuesday when I'm away.

Anthony Salvia's got a busy byline week, with his NYT puzzle yesterday and the Tuesday Sun crossword, "Sword Swallowers." I do always appreciate the inside-joke aspect of contemporary crosswordese reworked into theme entries, and here the EPEE and three other swords are "swallowed" by longer phrases:
  • [Curacao flavorers] are ORANGE PEELS.
  • BROWN AS A BERRY means [Quite suntanned]. Personally, I'd never use this phrase. I prefer berries that are not brown. Somehow the phrase connotes an unseemly anatomicalness in my mind.
  • BARBARA PIERCE [married George Bush in 1945]. (No comment.)
  • [It merged with Socal in 1984 to form Chevron] clues GULF OIL CORP. 
There are some supra-Tuesday clues here. [Cervid horn] asks you to remember that "cervid" has to do with deer, so the horn's an ANTLER. (Anyone else fond of those animal adjectives like cervine, bovine, ovine, ursine, corvine, and lupine?) [Jaguar rival] isn't automotive but NFLish, with a Houston TEXAN being a division rival of the Jacksonville Jaguars.