January 18, 2009

Monday, 1/19

NYT 4:00*
LAT 3:51*
Sun 3:23*
BEQ ???

*N.O.T.: Not Orange's Time!

[Updated 11:00 a.m. Monday]

Hey, everybody. PuzzleGirl here filling in for the ailing Orange, who has apparently been bitten by a little flu bug. I didn't ask for any more details than that. I'd just really rather not know. Like all of you, I hope she feels better soon, and in the meantime ... you're stuck with me.

Tracey Snyder's New York Times crossword was an easy, breezy Monday solve with fun fill and a basic, well-executed theme that I didn't actually catch onto right away because I filled in the southwest corner with just the acrosses and never saw the reveal. So. It's about CHIPs. We're talking:

  • (NATALIE) WOOD chips — flashes of Fargo (yikes!);
  • (HOME) COMPUTER chips — okay, sure;
  • (HOT) CHOCOLATE chips — now we're gettin' somewhere; and
  • (COUCH) POTATO chips — ya know what's even more awesome than chocolate chips and potato chips separately? That's right, chocolate-covered potato chips. I've always wanted to try melting chocolate and peanut butter together and covering potato chips with that. I'm pretty sure that would be awesome. Who's with me?
So, the puzzle says that [One of 100 in D.C.] is a SENator. I guess that would be the ideal. Are there a hundred there yet this term? I'm embarrassed to say I haven't kept up on the Minnesota situation. Hold on ... Nope, still battling it out in court. Stay classy, Norm!

Have I mentioned that I'm a huge Aerosmith fan? Love those guys! I've seen them in concert, like, ten times. Not entirely thrilled to see one of their lousiest songs in the puzzle though. "CRYIN'." Yep, it really does have the lyric "Love is sweet misery." Actually I'm pretty sure it's "Your love is sweet misery," which makes it even worse. Although not nearly as bad as "Pink when I turn out the light / Pink it's like red but not quite." So it's got that going for it.

The more I look at this puzzle, the more I like it. It's got some great S-words in SIEGE, SCOTSMEN, SNORE, and SPEED TRAP. And what's not to like about FLEECE, PRETTY BOY, and LEWD LECHES? Good stuff. Very smooth. Nice job, Tracey!

And how much happier could I be whenever I see my girl Andrea Carla Michaels's name on a puzzle? None. None happier. Today she graces us with "The Last Hurrah" in the Sun puzzle. The ends of the theme answers give us the classic cheer: SIS BOOM BAH. Awesome theme answers too:
  • [Author of "Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players"] is, of course, STEFAN FATSIS. I remember the day I asked the Barnes & Noble guy if they had this book. Me: "It's called Word Freak." Him: "Word Freak?" Me: "Yeah. It's about Scrabble." (Long pause while he tries to determine if I'm serious.)
  • [Taking decisive punitive action] = LOWERING THE BOOM. Never good to be on the wrong end of that.
  • [Muck-a-muck] = GRAND POOBAH. I had to go look this up on Wikipedia just for fun. The two things that come to mind when I hear this phrase are (1) Fred Flintstone and (2) Mr. Cunningham on "Happy Days." Guess there's a reason for that!
Best word in the puzzle isn't an answer, though, it's a clue: [Buzzkill]. I don't see that word enough. Also love seeing the two wraps — SARI and SARAN — sitting one atop the other. And I'm not saying there's a political thing going on here, but we do have the DEMS winning big in 2008, XED clued in relation to voting, and a reference to Tina Fey's portrayal of SARAH Palin. Also, I'm sure DODO, BLOWHARD, ARROGANCE, SNOOZE, and SMOKED don't mean anything. In a puzzle titled "The Last Hurrah." The day before Inauguration.


I'm going to call Jack McIntuff's L.A. Times puzzle "T 'n' T." Theme answers are phrases with two T-words. I was lulled into complacency with TRICK OR TREAT, TWIST-OFF TOPS, and TAKE ONE'S TIME. Then, wham! TRAIL OF TEARS. Pretty heavy entry for this particular set of answers. And I'm embarrassed to admit it, but the phrase always makes me think of this picture, which is symbolic of a serious issue in its own way, but isn't exactly [Native Americans' forced relocation].

I only had two missteps in this puzzle, entering soy, not MSG, for [Stir-fry flavor enhancer] and whiffs, not MISSES, for [Swings without hitting]. But that section worked itself out pretty easily with the crosses.

So, what is THE GAP known as now? Just Gap, it seems. But the company has helpfully set up a redirect for us old people who type in thegap.com when looking for their website. What are us old people doing shopping at the Gap anyway?

Today's Brendan Emmett Quigley puzzle is, well, I'm not sure exactly what to say. I'm waffling between hilarious and just plain mean. See for yourselves.