January 19, 2009

Tuesday, 1/20

Jonesin' 4:55
Sun 4:40
NYT 3:42
LAT 2:55

There are also some timely bonus puzzles awaiting you at the Crossword Fiend forum:

Many thanks to Puzzle Girl for filling in on short notice. I got trounced by a nasty bug and spent 36 hours ailing on the couch, too beat to do crosswords. Here's how sick I've been: I didn't even do the Monday puzzles. I just went ahead and read PG's post, spoilers and all. Moving along to Tuesday!

Tim Wescott's New York Times crossword commemorates (wait...can you commemorate something that hasn't happened yet?) the inauguration of PRESIDENT OBAMA. Man, will I be a wreck tomorrow. Will need to have a box of Puffs at the ready because hell, I teared up seeing the Obamas walk down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the TV news, and that was nothing. Now, where was I? Oh, yes. The crossword. PRESIDENT OBAMA is balanced by another 14, The AUDACITY OF HOPE. Starting tomorrow, that book's author will become the LEADER OF AMERICA, which isn't a naturally crossword-friendly phrase, but it'll do. CAMPAIGN RIVALRY gives a nod to McCain. Assorted shorter answers tie in, too—my favorite being ILL., the [Home state of 52-Across: Abbr.]. And then there are the circled letters that appear in a larger circle in the grid to spell out the Obama campaign's slogan, YES WE CAN. EBOLA sits in the grid, clued as a [Nasty virus], to remind me that the bug I had was really not so nasty in comparison. There's some great fill—BEEHIVES, OVERPAID, JOE crossing BIDEN—but also some quasi-iffy 8's. [Cry just before leaving] is TIME TO GO, which maybe isn't so crossword-kosher, or maybe it is—I guess I have said that routinely to my kid. HALF-SEEN is clued as [Not fully noticed], and I can't say I've used that phrase.


All righty, the inauguration is over, and I have left the couch to get lunch (a small cup of Jell-O—no seafood stew here, please).

Todd McClary's LA Times crossword has a vowel-progression theme, with the consistency of the first words all being 3 letters long:
  • FAR AFIELD means [Quite a distance from home].
  • FER DE LANCE is a scary [Tropical viper].
  • FIR TREE is a [Holiday evergreen].
  • FOR DUMMIES is a [Black-and-yellow instructional book series]. Patrick Berry's Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies is not for dummies, it's for budding crossword constructors, and it's got great puzzles in it.
  • FUR TRADER is clued as [Astor, notably].
I like the pop-culture fizz of MINI-ME, the [Diminutive "Austin Powers" character] played by Verne Troyer. Question: is a SAFARI a [Jungle adventure] or more of a savanna adventure?

The TV is still distracting me and all this sitting up is tiring, I tell you. I don't think Patrick Blindauer's Sun puzzle was really all that hard, but it took me a while anyway. The "Attention to Details" theme involves adding a "D tail" to the end of various phrases. My favorite theme entry is TEST BAND, a [Group that plays during finals week?]. My favorite clue—because it took me so long to understand it—is [What some people do to enter united states?], for ELOPE. I first went with SHIFT, as in the key you use to type capital letters. Ah! United = just an adjective; states = manners of being.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "Signal Ahead," takes the meaning of traffic signals and shuffles them:
  • ["Try to chew your food a little more--don't scarf it" phrase?] is "SLOW DOWN, HUNGRY." "Go hungry" is a familiar phrase.
  • [Beat a NYC college athletic team?] is STOP THE PACE. Pace University, "slow down the pace." That yellow light turned red.
  • [Whiz only on footprint indentations?] is GO IN YOUR TRACKS. "Stop in your tracks" is an established phrase. After the red light comes green for GO, which cycles us back to the base phrase in the first theme entry.
In the fill, we have THROWS UP clued as [Loses what was originally put down?]. Mm-hmm, I know about that. Favorite pieces: QUAGGAS is a great word, and they're [Extinct African mammals related to zebras]. I didn't know they were extinct. STANDING O is [given after a great performance]. The [Plains Native American tribe that becomes a state if you drop the first letter] is KIOWA, and if you enjoy that sort of word game, don't miss Will Shortz's Inauguration Puzzle from this past weekend. Will's puzzle plays similar games with a group of U.S. presidents' last names, and it's a smooth challenge.