December 04, 2008

Friday, 12/5

NYT 7:35
LAT 5:14
Sun 4:25
CHE 3:48
CS 3:11
WSJ 8:18

(updated at 9:15 Friday morning)

Joe Krozel's got another New York Times crossword a week after his last one. This time it's a 72-word themeless in which just 20 of the words are 7 letters or longer. When the word count's 68 to 72, I like to see some crazy fill—really fresh phrases, a preponderance of Scrabbly letters, that sort of thing. This puzzle didn't go as far in that direction as I'd've hoped.

Here's the stuff I liked:

  • BY NO MEANS is a good phrase, clued as [Not at all].
  • MAYBE NOT is a [Reconsideration declaration]. I don't mind that "not" is in another clue as well as this answer; it's a small word.
  • A wrestling TAG TEAM is clued as a [Ring pair]. I wonder if any tag team has ever gotten married and become a different sort of ring pair.
  • [One often picked up at the airport] is worded to make you think of people, but it's a RENTAL CAR.
  • I like the word omphalos, so I liked [Omphalos variety] for INNIE. Those bellybutton clues—man, you can put in the IE right away, but you never know how to fill in the rest of the word. (With...lint?)
  • [Not like Ike: Abbr.] is a good clue for DEM.
  • [Sound again] is the adjective, not the verb—BETTER, as in feeling better after being sick or hurt.
There's an emphasis on the first person here. I'M LATE ([Cry from the White Rabbit]), SO I ["___ hear"], I SEE NOW (["Oh, so that's it"]), and GOT ME (["I haven't the foggiest!"]).

Less obvious clues:
  • [Claim exclamation] is DIBS, as in shouting "Dibs!" to lay claim to something.
  • [Manages to add] clues EDGES IN. What is this person edging in? Can you edge something in the same way you can add something? I need a sentence in which the two phrases can be interchanged. Anyone?
  • [1984 Physics co-Nobelist Simon van der ___] MEER was unknown to me. Am I the only one who would have found [Lake, to the Dutch] to be a more accessible clue?
  • [Letters of patent?] clues TAE, Thomas Edison's initials. Are his initials notable for appearing in patent paperwork?
  • [Fraternity cry] is LET'S PARTY. I need a ruling from a recent frat member: Is this the lingo?
  • [One not making the cut?] is the EPEE, which has a blunted end.
  • [Almost certainly gonna] seems more casual than BOUND TO.
  • [British royal, informally] is ANDY if you're talking about Prince Andrew. I thought I needed a slangy synonym for "member of royalty," but no.
  • [Flight takeoff and landing spot] is an AERIE if you're an eagle, not an airplane pilot.

This is the second time that Peter Gordon has given us two days in a row of themeless Sun puzzles. Does this mean that more than 20% of the puzzles Peter had accepted before the New York Sun folded were themeless, and maybe we'll have some more 40% themeless weeks? I hope so!

Karen Tracey's "Weekend Warrior" is a 70-worder with two double-stacks of 15's bound together by SANDRA BULLOCK, who [played Harper Lee in "Infamous"]. The 15's include a GENEROUS MEASURE of FROZEN DAIQUIRIS, The THREE FACES OF EVE, and the ALASKAN KING CRAB the crab boats are catching on Deadliest Catch (it's a dangerous job, though far more of the fishing crews survive than the crabs). Highlights besides the long babies:
  • I like the word VESPID, which describes a wasp and a [Hornet, e.g.]. Those Vespa scooters look like wasps, don't they?
  • Speaking of creepy critters, there's also a SEA DEVIL, or [Manta]. 
  • [Love all around?] would indicate NO SCORE in tennis.
  • [Casual states?] is SEZ, a more casual way of writing says.
  • The TREFOIL [Girl Scout cookie]! That reminds me—I still have a sleeve of Thin Mints in the freezer. I should really eat those.
  • [Lets go] is TURNS LOOSE, but with the T and R in place, I confidently filled in TERMINATES. I like traps like those, provided that I can extricate myself without too much trouble.
  • A [Ranking member] is a DOYEN. I fancy myself the doyenne of crossword blogging.
  • [Preaches], slangy nickname for "preachers," clues REVS.
Michael Ashley's Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, "Heavenly Bodies," isn't about astronomy. It's about SATAN and his angels, written about in Paradise Lost by John MILTON. Next Tuesday is Milton's 400th BDAY (35-Down). I seem to recall taking a 5-week class devoted to Paradise Lost, but I'm not the most attentive reader because I got some of those angel names strictly from the crossings. They're MAMMON and MOLOCH, GABRIEL and URIEL, BELIAL and RAPHAEL, and the crowd favorite, BEELZEBUB. All of these theme entries are placed in symmetrical locations in the grid. My favorite clue: [Swiped item?] for ATM CARD.

Randolph Ross's Wall Street Journal crossword is called "Job De-Scriptions," and each theme entry is a made-up phrase in which a word that has to do with a particular job is placed into a DE___ED slot before the job name. Does that make sense? Here are some examples:
A reporter works as part of the press, so an [Unhappy newspaper worker?] is a DEPRESSED REPORTER. Is she depressed because she's been de-pressed?
[Hardworking candidate?] is a DEVOTED POLITICIAN. Is she devoted, or is she working hard to regain a seat she was de-voted from? (See N. CAR., [Sen. Dole's state], for instance!)
I don't quite know if the de___ing is intended to suggest negation of the ___ word. Because a DELIGHTED ARSONIST wouldn't be a [Pleased pyromaniac?], would he? If the light has been taken away, wouldn't the arsonist be frustrated? But "pleased" means DELIGHTED. So...I'm not quite sure how this theme works.

James Sajdak's LA Times crossword changes a U to an O in each theme entry:
  • A cult movie becomes a COLT MOVIE, such as ["My Friend Flicka," e.g.?].
  • [Send down a pitcher?] clues PASS THE BOCK (buck). Bock's a type of beer.
  • [What happens at about five o'clock at a daycare center?] is THE MOMMY RETURNS (Mummy).
  • [Game for Shiraz swingers?] is PERSIAN GOLF (Gulf).
  • [Indonesian officer?] is a COP OF JAVA (cup).
I'm not sure why 6-Across is SAE, [MS. enclosure], rather than SHE. H-BOMB would be as sound as A-BOMB, clued as [Los Alamos project]. Other clues: A [Foretopman, e.g.] is a SAILOR; new word for me in the clue. The [English poet laureate, 1790-1813] was PYE; don't know him. [Musical motif, to Mascagni] is the Italian word TEMA.


Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy crossword, "T for Two," has a very basic theme: two-word phrases with T.T. initials. There's no Ted Turner or taste test this time, but there are six other phrases:
  • TIME TRAVEL is a [Sci-fi subject]. I'd like to time-travel back to early November to get a better start on Christmas shopping and start writing out my holiday cards.
  • To TALK TRASH is to [Hurl insults]. "Patrick, you're a hack! Get out of the crossword business!" is trash talk. (The definition I read didn't suggest that the insults needed to have a basis in reality.)
  • TAG TEAMS are [Wrestling duos]. These folks are very popular among the crossword crowd, judging from today's puzzles.
  • ["Black gold"] is slang for oil, as is TEXAS TEA.
  • To [Go back and forth] in a debate or a board game, say, is to TAKE TURNS.
  • TICKER TAPE is a [Parade material of the past]. Littering!
Hostess HO HOS are an [Alternative to Twinkies], and the ingredients no longer include animal fat. Vegetarians take note: The Ho Hos I had last month were tiny and dry. Overall, the filling is quite smooth in this puzzle—less so in the snack cakes.