January 25, 2009

Monday, 1/26

BEQ 3:58
Sun 3:41
NYT 2:43
LAT 3:38 (Flash version)

The New York Times crossword applet seems to be out of commission this evening, but luckily the Across Lite version of Timothy Powell and Nancy Salomon's puzzle downloaded just fine. The theme is embodied in the clue for all three long answers: ["Bad idea!"]. How else can you say that? LET'S NOT GO THERE, for one. YOU MUST BE JOKING. Or perhaps I DIDN'T HEAR THAT. What I like best in this puzzle are the longer Down answers, all four of them so lively:

  • GREEN THUMB is a [Gardener's gift].
  • NOAH'S ARK is clued as a [Two-by-two vessel].
  • BLIND DATES are [Social arrangements that don't always work out].
  • The MAIN DRAG is a town's [Central street].
KIBITZ is also a great word, meaning to [Offer advice from around a card table]. There's one shorter answer that I have seen on the internet plenty, but it grates every single time: HE HE, a [Gleeful giggle]. No. The giggle would be HEE HEE. HE HE is a pair of pronouns, a pair of chemical symbols for helium, or a pair of matching Chinese names.

Tougher clues include ["My sweetie" in a 1957 hit for the Bobbettes], or MR. LEE; [Instrument with 30+ strings] for ZITHER; and ["___ River" (song from "Show Boat")] for the two-word OL' MAN, which looks like a mystifying OLMAN in the grid.


Tony Orbach's 15x16 Sun puzzle, "Roman Wrestling," leaves out my great uncle Roman (he used to give me a silver dollar every time we visited—a surefire way of being remembered by a child is to make a habit of giving her unusual money) but includes five more famous people who have a first or last name that's an anagram of "Roman." Two have last names in this category—ERIN MORAN, who was very genuine on that Scott Baio is 45...and Single show, and SUZE ORMAN, who is skewered on SNL. The other three are former Cub and Mia Hamm helpmate NOMAR GARCIAPARRA and two actors of yore, NORMA SHEARER and RAMON NOVARRO. Man, I misremembered that last name in so many ways. Alvarez first, then Navarre, then Novarre, and finally Novarro with crossings. I liked the profusion of names in the puzzle—there are about a dozen in the non-themed fill, and plenty of other words (BRAD, BOND, HAZEL, IRA) that could have been clued as people.

Edgar Fontaine's LA Times crossword wasn't posted in Across Lite at Cruciverb.com yet, so I bit the bullet and solved it in the interactive Flash version on the newspaper's website. I blithely type things in without looking at the grid, instinctively behaving as if the Flash cursor moves like the Across Lite one, and it doesn't. So I think that slowed me down some. Anyway, the theme is a tribute to the late, great PAUL NEWMAN. The theme includes two of his most notable films and the role he played in both of them:
  • [30-Down's role in 56-Across and 4-Down] is FAST EDDIE FELSON.
  • [1961 30-Down film] is THE HUSTLER.
  • [1986 30-Down film] is THE COLOR OF MONEY.
A handful of answers seem a tad beyond Monday-grade. ABEAM is an old nautical word meaning [Perpendicular to the keel]; it crosses its fellow nauticalisms ALEE, or [Sheltered, at sea], and BILGES, or [Ships' seepage collection areas]. LISLE is a [Stocking thread]. [Ab ___: From the beginning] is the Latin phrase ab INITIO. [Caustic potash] clues LYE. The French POEME is clued as [Verse, in Vichy]. [Devereux's earldom] is ESSEX.

Updated again:

Whoops, I forgot Monday was one of the Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword days. In Brendan's accompanying blog post for this one, he says constructors want every solver to grasp the theme, even if it takes a good long while for the "aha" moment to hit. His test-solvers had delayed "ahas" with this one, and I am still in the midst of my delay. The theme is the WATCHMEN comic/upcoming movie. ALAN Moore wrote WATCHMEN, which is a PHENOMENON [in the graphic novel world]. The WATCHMEN clue says the WATCHMEN members are hidden throughout the grid. Great, research required to see a theme—I know nothing about the characters. Wikipedia to the rescue! The characters are clued without reference to Watchmen and include OZYMANDIAS, NITE / OWL, Doctor MANHATTAN, The COMEDIAN, RORSCHACH, and SILK / SPECTRE—two of them spanning two sequential entries apiece. That's a cool way to hide them—and the two-worders diverge from thematic symmetry, so the hiding places are more...hidey. Do these characters do a lot of hiding in plain sight? I have no idea. The puzzle kinda left me cold since I have zero familiarity with the characters.