November 03, 2008

Tuesday, 11/4

Sun untimed (whoops)—If you haven't subscribed to the Sun puzzle yet, head to to subscribe because otherwise you're going to miss out on the Tuesday puzzle, and I daresay it's one of my favorite puzzles of 2008. So what are you waiting for?
Jonesin' 3:43
LAT 3:35
CS 3:16
NYT 3:05

(updated at 9 a.m. Tuesday)

What I said up there about ponying up the $12.50 for the Sun crossword—I'm serious. Do it. The puzzles are always good, and occasionally transcendent.

The Election Day New York Times crossword was constructed by an all-star duo of Peter Collins and Joe Krozel. The three longest answers have a timely theme to them:

  • ELECTION DAY is an [Early November occasion in the U.S.].
  • CAST A VOTE sits in the middle of the grid, and the clue points out the hidden graphical element in this puzzle: This is [What many Americans will do on 17-Across (as hinted at by highlighting all the V's in this puzzle's answer)]. Did you see those V's? They form a big 9-square check mark, from the V in 38-Across down to square 49 and back up to the V in 26-Across. A V is not the easiest letter to work into a crossword, and this puzzle breaks the record for the most V's in a daily NYT crossword.
  • BALLOT BOXES are [Sights at polling places].
Peter, Joe, and editor Will Shortz have worked a bunch of political/presidential bits into the fill throughout this puzzle, too. There's ACROSS [the aisle (bipartisanly)]. William Howard Taft was FAT, the heaviest U.S. president. ABES are President Lincoln et al. Teri POLO and Rob LOWE both acted on The West Wing, a White House–set TV drama. The VICTOR is the [Inaugural ball holder]. VACATES means [Leaves early, as an office]. AGE is clued with [35 is the minimum one to be U.S. president]. ODDEST, or [Most likely to raise eyebrows], refers to current candidate...never mind. TELSTAR was a President [Kennedy-era launch]. There's the [President pro] TEM of the Senate. "DON'T Stop" by Fleetwood Mac was the [Bill Clinton theme song)], and the MCVIES were half of Fleetwood Mac. (Edited to add: KarmaSartre e-mailed me to point out that they were two fifths of the group, not half. Can't I round up?) And a BOO is a [Bad sound at a campaign rally]. My favorite non-theme clue is [Baby buggy?] for LARVA, and I liked having 16 7-letter answers in the fill here.

So, once again I failed to notice that the Across Lite timer was turned off when I started Kevin Wald's Sun puzzle, "Numerological Prediction." Now, when I solve a crossword in Across Lite, I'm a little surprised when Mr. Happy Pencil doesn't present himself. I figure I must've had a typo, so I use the "Check all letters" function to find the problem square. I wasn't expecting Across Lite to tell me I had eight squares wrong! Turns out this is an update of Jeremiah Farrell's legendary 1996 CLINTON/BOBDOLE gimmick. This time, the key answer is clued [What you will see on the news on Election Day]. {Somebody} IS IN. Who? Well, if you spell out OBAMA IS IN, then you will also fill in FOUR at 38-Across, the [Number of squares in this puzzle that contain a word meaning "elected"] because there are four [IN] rebus squares in the grid. If you opt for MCCAI[IN] IS IN, you've added another rebus square, so 38-Across is FIVE. There are the Down crossings for the affected areas:
  • 27-D. [Architectural feature] is a DOOR for Obama, a DOME for McCain.
  • The candidates' second letter appears in an [Entity exhibiting cohesion] is a BLOB or a BLOC.
  • The third letter is in ADS or CDS, [They're played on the radio].
  • Fourth is MIR or AIR, [Cosmonaut's concern, maybe].
  • After than, the [Dairy product quantity] is either a PAT of butter or a P[IN]T of milk with a rebus square.
Three of the crossings for 38-Across, FOUR or FIVE, can vary:
  • Either OSU or ISU is a [Midwest sch. near I-70].
  • [Part of the radio spectrum associated with some TV stations] is either a UHF BAND or a VHF BAND.
  • The last letter in the number is either the R in DOOR or the E in DOME.
The two longest Across answers and two other short Across answers all contain a rebus square holding the letters IN, and those clues are politically oriented. There's some cool fill too, but between the time change and a long day, I am nodding off here. Feel free to single out for attention whatever you noticed in this (or other) crosswordsl


I'm short on time this morning (and I voted two weeks ago, so it's not that), so shorter blogging today.

Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle also has an election theme. The theme entries in "Decisions, Decisions" are:
  • [November 4, 2008 sight], a VOTING BOOTH. Did you see The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" episode Sunday night? Homer used a touch-screen voting machine, and every time he touched the Obama space, the robo-voice announced another vote for McCain. "You have cast six votes for John McCain." When Homer threatened to report this violation of voting rights, the machine ingested him, killed him, and spat him out in a pool of blood so a poll worker could put an "I voted" sticker on his head.
  • [November 4, 2008 phrase] is X MARKS THE SPOT. My touch-screen did use X's. This crossword's got two other X's in the fill, but I don't think they're marking any particular spots.
  • [November 4, 2008] is, of course, ELECTION DAY.
The constructor duped me with the 8-letter [Cadillac model] starting with E. ESCALADE, right? Nope, it's EL DORADO. Cool grid with those four wide-open corners.

Don Gagliardo's LA Times crossword doesn't go topical today. Instead, we get a vowel-progression theme:
  • [Pretentious talker] is a BAG OF WIND.
  • [Disagree, politely] is BEG TO DIFFER.
  • [Wheeler-dealer] is a BIG-TIME OPERATOR.
  • [Become mired in] is BOG DOWN WITH. This makes me think of Peter Bogdanovich.
  • [Eaves hanger that attracts insects] is a BUG ZAPPER.
Some interesting words in the fill: IPOD CASE, SIGNS OFF ON, the BLOB/BLAH crossing, TWO-BIT, and my personal favorite, TUG OF WAR clued as a ["Battle of the Network Stars" contest]. I loved that show! The current show Wipeout should do a celebrity episode to recapture the Battle of the Network Stars magic.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword is called "'Tis the Seaon," and it's not election season or holiday season he has in mind but rather, flu season. Each theme entry's a phrase with a FLU infecting it. There's a 15-letter theme entry across the middle, and the other two pairs of theme entries are partly stacked together.
  • [Hair color that makes you look like former NFLer Doug?] is FLUTIE DYE. (Tie-dye.)
  • [The urge to go to a school dance?] is PROM INFLUENCE. (Prominence.)
  • [Get in the way of a log ride?] is TRY AND STOP FLUME. (Try and stop me.) Grammatical pet peeve: the "try and ___" formation when "try to ___" works just fine. "Try and" is absolutely "in the language," alas. And I probably use it myself, but I'm not proud of that.
  • [Tragic Greek figure with stomach acid problems?] is OEDIPUS REFLUX. (Oedipus Rex.) Ha! This one made me laugh. It combines classics and medical terminology, so what's not to love?
  • [The blue liquid used in diaper commercials, perhaps?] is the same blue fluid used in maxipad ads. The answer is a FAKE FLUID. (Fake I.D.) Nice conversion of I.D. into FLUID.
Favorite clues: [It really gets boring] refers to an AUGER. [Dog show partner?] is PONY, as in "dog and pony show" (though maybe someone should clue DOG as [Pony show partner?] instead). Favorite fill answers: MAGIC WAND and OFF THE MAP.