March 09, 2009

Tuesday, 3/10

LAT 2:45
CS 2:38
NYT 2:34
Tausig tba — see Wednesday post
Onion tba — see Wednesday post

The NYT online solving applet runs on a server based in Europe, which doesn't always get the memo about when the U.S. decides to begin or end daylight saving time. DST kicked in this past weekend, ridiculously early in the year. (Big plus: it's dark at my son's bedtime, even though the sunlight lasts an hour later, so he's none the wiser.) I sent a note to the applet's keeper, who said he'd reset the clock, so I don't know why the puzzle wasn't up in the applet at the appointed time and is still not up an hour later. I gave up and switched to Across Lite, though it selfishly refuses to tell me if my solution is correct. (It's Tuesday. Odds are I'm in the clear.)

Thomas Takaro's New York Times crossword is an example of a [Word that can follow each half of 20- and 60-Across and 11- and 36-Down] type of theme. An EYE (37-Down) can pair up with both components of each theme entry:

  • A U.S. military [Attack helicopter] is called the BLACKHAWK. Bruised black eye, Hawkeye. (I hear the Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling team just conquered the rest of the Big Ten.)
  • [In the altogether] is an awfully weird phrase to mean BUCK NAKED, isn't it? Apparently it was introduced by George du Maurier in his novel, Trilby. Ohio is the Buckeye State, and the naked eye uses no telescope or microscope lenses.
  • SEEING RED means [Really steamed]. "Seeing Eye" sounds incomplete without the word "dog" appended to it. There are red-eye flights, red eye in photos, and other red eyes.
  • A [See-through partition] is a GLASS WALL. Wait, is that really "in the language"? A glass eye is what Sammy Davis Jr. had (why? car accident in 1954), and walleye is a kind of fish.
The most [Super-duper] answer in the fill is WHIZ-BANG. (No, there's no whiz eye or bang eye.) My favorite clue is [Unloaded?] for SOBER. Miscellaneous other clues and answers:
  • [Iranian money] is the RIAL.
  • [Snack machine inserts] are ONES, as in $1 bills.
  • [Do a cashier's job] pulls double duty, cluing both SCAN and BAG.
  • LAWYERS are [Often-joked-about professionals].
  • Two successive fill-in-the-blank clues have answers with definite or indefinite articles: TOA and OTHE look rather unsightly mashed together there. One is [Ellington's "Prelude ___ Kiss"]; the other, [Will-___-wisp].
  • Three 4-letter G words mesh well together. GLIB means [Smooth-talking], GOSH is clued with ["Holy cow!"], and GRIT is [Determination].
  • GUTEN is the German [Word before "Morgen" or "Tag"]. Those phrases mean "good morning" and "good day/hello" Guten Abend means "good evening" and Gute Nacht is "good night."

Neville Fogarty's LA Times crossword has three jars of stuff you really don't want on your toast:
  • PETROLEUM JELLY is a [Multipurpose ointment].
  • "LADY MARMALADE" is the song that was a [1975 #3 hit for Labelle]. Bonus points for dropping ORANGE ([Syracuse University team]) into the grid above MARMALADE.
  • PLANT PRESERVES is a less familiar phrase. It's clued as [Sanctuaries for flora].
Neville's included eight 8- or 9-letter answers in the fill, lowering the overall word count to 72. Among the long and less-long answers and clues I liked best, we have these:
  • [Like Pollyanna's optimism] is the clue for INCURABLE. Definitely a better cluing approach than evoking incurable diseases.
  • [Like a "fauxlex" watch] means ERSATZ. I haven't seen "fauxlex" before but surely it means faux Rolex.
  • I love the word ORNERY, meaning [Not at all good-humored].
  • PAC-TEN (really Pac-10, no?) is the [Wash. Huskies' conf.].
  • HULU has been popping up in more puzzles. It's a [Website offering streaming TV video] in a screen space that's much bigger than what you get with YouTube.
  • LILY PADS are lovely [Pond floaters].
  • It's a nice change to have [Get used (to)] not clue is-it-ENURE-or-INURE-this-time. Here, it's ACCUSTOM.
I dispute the [Pretty woman] clue for LOOKER. George Clooney is a LOOKER too, y'know. Yes, the dictionary says the word applies especially to a woman, but I am sick and tired of this sexist gendering of language, I tell ya. And I have never once referred to a woman as "a looker."

Paula Gamache's CrosSynergy crossword, "On Call," has five theme entries whose first words may precede "call":
  • [Scarce consolation] is COLD COMFORT. Salespeople may make cold calls. Hey, have you seen (or read) Cold Comfort Farm? The two most memorable lines are ones that get repeated. "I saw something nasty in the woodshed" is a personal favorite, and my kid regrets that his parents both find it hilarious to wield this line. The poet-manqué Flora musing over "the golden orb" has made that phrase a winner around this household, too.
  • [Safety device on some convertibles] is the ROLLBAR that keeps skulls from meeting the road in the event of a rollover. Take roll call to see who's present.
  • [Cowboy's milieu] is a CATTLE RANCH, and a cattle call is an open audition.
  • CRANKCASE is clued as [Engine housing]. Crank calls are a delight to pesky adolescents. The clue for NECK, [Hug and kiss], evokes the Bart Simpson crank call asking Moe to find "Amanda Huggenkiss."
  • HOUSE SEAT is [won by a representative]. Doctors used to make house calls.
I know the word DYSTOPIA, but the clue, [Undesirable society type depicted in Orwell's "Nineteen EIghty-Four"], had me thinking I needed to name a "type" of person who was part of undesirable society, rather than an undesirable type of society. (D'oh.) [Doesn't quite run] doesn't refer to something that doesn't work—it refers to loping at a sub-running pace, or TROTS. [One who'll croak in the future] is a TADPOLE, not yet a grown frog. RED ROCK is a [Prominent feature of the Arizona high desert].