January 21, 2009

Thursday, 1/22

NYT 5:01
Sun 5:00
LAT 3:23
Onion tba
Tausig tba
Wed. BEQ tba

Yeah, I know. I've fallen behind on crosswords. I've had a busy day signing all sorts of executive orders and unpacking boxes. No, actually, it's been a full day of crossword work. Really. And tomorrow will be much the same, so we'll see if/when I get around to the puzzle backlog here.

Gary Whitehead's byline looks wrong above the New York Times crossword. What is his full name doing written out up there? Shouldn't the last four letters of his name be smooshed together into one character? Yes, that's right. It's a Thursday rebus puzzle, and the word that gets the squeezebox treatment is HEAD, as suggested by the SHRUNKEN HEADS in the middle of the grid. The rebus squares are placed in perfect symmetry (which always makes the cruciverbal esthetes happy) in these intersecting answers:

  • A [Walking encyclopedia] is an EGG{HEAD}, which crosses [One way to meet], or {HEAD} ON.
  • To [Split] is to {HEAD} FOR THE HILLS, crossing BIG-{HEAD}ED, or [Macrocephalic].
  • [All over] means {HEAD} TO TOE, with the head also part of SWELL{HEAD}, or [Egoist]. That last entry is less natural-sounding than the others.
  • RADIO{HEAD} is an [Alternative rock band with four platinum albums. Is it bad that I don't know the difference between Coldplay and Radiohead? They both needed the services of a professional namer: "made-up compound word that doesn't resonate" is a lousy identity. Now, Headcold and Playradio, those make more sense. The band crosses the disparaging {HEAD}CASES, or [Nut jobs]. I'll bet psychiatrists and psychologists frown to see such clues and answers in their crosswords.
  • [Traffic sign that indicates a possible temporary road closure] is DRAWBRIDGE A{HEAD}. [Lady Jane Grey's fate] was BE{HEAD}ING, poor thing.
  • AX{HEAD} is [Chopping part of a chopper], and I'll bet a lot of folks just put AXE here and made a hash of that corner. The [Front] is the {HEAD} END.
Miscellaneous stuff, good and less good:
  • A [Schmo] is a BOZO, yo.
  • NOHOW is the [Opposite of someways], and similarly slangy.
  • Geography! [Paris's ___ de Lyon] clues GARE. Train station? [Chinese dollar] is YUAN. BOSNIA was a [1990s war site].
  • A [Benjamin] is a C-NOTE or $100 bill, and [100 18-Acrosses] are worth TEN G, or $10,000. TENG looks horrible in the grid, but the C-NOTE tie-in saves it. [Numbers in the thousands?] clues ZEROES, and look at 'em all in 10,000 there.
  • EWE NECK! That's a [Conformation defect in a horse], of course. Here's some info. Sounds to me like they should just leave the horses be and quit telling them their necks look funny.
  • LEHI is [Where Samson defeated the Philistines]. Man, it's a good thing this answer doesn't intersect with EWENECK.
  • OLAF II was a [Sainted king known as "the Fat"].
  • [Creep], the verb, is INCH. I want to use INCH to mean creep, the noun.
  • BRAIN-DEAD crosses SHRUNKEN HEADS without comment. (Clued as [Unable to think at all].)
  • [Wickiup, for one], is an American Indian HUT. No relation to Wikipedia.
  • Apu's KWIK-E[-Mart] from The Simpsons looks weird in the grid in its partial form. KWIKE wants to rhyme with bike.

Man, what a day. Sick kid, sick husband, up all night, working all day. Let me take a couple minutes for crosswords, eh?

Mark Feldman's Sun crossword, a "Themeless Thursday," wasn't too hard. My finishing time includes mental drifting and text-messaging my hairstylist, so... Great long answers—NEW LEASE ON LIFE and a COME-HITHER LOOK are good IDIOMS, aren't they? QUETZAL scratches the rare-letter itch. Solution omitted because (a) I'm beat and (b) if you've done this puzzle, you have access to the answers the same day.

Donna Levin's LA Times crossword is terrific. The theme entries are TV show titles with numbers in 'em, but the number's been docked by 1: FIVE FEET UNDER is cost-saving, SEVEN IS ENOUGH makes use of contraception, ONE AND A HALF MEN lacks Charlie Sheen, and TWENTY-NINE ROCK is less prestigious than 30 Rock. Ideally, all the shows would spell out the numbers, but I think only three of the four do.