April 05, 2009

Monday, 4/6

BEQ 8:00+
CS 4:06
LAT 3:48
NYT 3:45

[Updated: Monday morning 10:30am]

Hi, everybody. PuzzleGirl here chatting up the Monday puzzles with you while Orange is off enjoying a lovely spring break in New Orleans with her family. I'm planning to enjoy a slightly less lovely spring break here in Virginia with my family. Plans? I was supposed to make plans for the kids' week off of school? Damn! I had a nagging feeling I was forgetting something!

Dustin Foley's New York Times crossword has us reaching for the sky. Four theme answers are phrases that start with words indicating the cycles of the MOON.

  • [Speaking with lofty language] is WAXING POETIC. Thank God no one ever does that around here.
  • [Withholding nothing] is FULL DISCLOSURE. For some reason I can hear in my head Dan Rydell saying "In the interest of full disclosure..." in a very particular way. You all remember Sports Night, right?
  • [What a fresh ad campaign helps combat] is WANING INTEREST. Thank God that's never a problem around here.
  • [Holder of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary] is NEW HAMPSHIRE. I was in Iowa for the most recent primaries. Good times.
In addition to the theme answers, we learn that [Celestial bodies exhibiting syzygy] are ALIGNED, and are graced with two other clue/answer pairs relating to the heavens. First, we get the Caribbean capital of Santo DOMINGO, named for Saint Dominic, the patron saint of astronomers. And then, we get the odd looking singular MAGUS, which we typically see as MAGI and know as the "Wise Men from the East." What I didn't know before I looked it up just now is that Magis are known for their ability to read the stars. Which I guess makes sense since that's what they were supposedly doing on that whole Star of Bethlehem journey thing. Have I mentioned that I'm not really that religious? Well, speaking of how not religious I am, there was a lot for me not to really know in this puzzle. Heavy on the Bible stuff! We've got [Jacob's wife], LEAH (who I know from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale), [Sainted fifth-century pope] LEO I, the [Ancient Assyrian capital] of NINEVEH, the "Golden Rule" ("Do UNTO others..."), and Sal MINEO, who played Dov Landau in Leon Uris's "Exodus." I know it's a war movie, and I know I've never seen it, but you can't tell me there's nothing biblical about it with a title like "Exodus." Luckily for me, the puzzle included Lex Luthor, Mr. Magoo, and Iago to balance out the Bible stuff I didn't know. I also noticed and was delighted by the inclusion of SPEWS, EWES, GREW, and SLEW in the grid.

Elizabeth A. Long's LA Times puzzle has a librarian thing going with the [Hint to the feature shared by the answers to starred clues]: "Shh!" Did anyone else have trouble figuring out this theme? I got [Shari Lewis puppet] LAMB CHOP right away. Then I actually made my way to the center of the puzzle, where the hint is located, before I got any more theme answers. So I'm thinking, "Okay, Lamb Chop is a puppet and doesn't talk, so I guess 'be quiet' fits ... ?" Then I figured out that a [Duster's find at a crime scene] is a THUMBPRINT and I'm all "How is a thumbprint quiet? I mean, obviously it's quiet ... because it's not a thing that makes noise, but ... ???" The other two theme answers ([Act all innocent] PLAY DUMB and [Precariously situated] OUT ON A LIMB) didn't help me for several minutes. I noticed that each of the phrases had an MB in it and wondered if that was an abbreviation for some Latin phrase meaning quiet. Really! That's where I went! I know! I can't believe I'm telling you either! But, it finally hit me. The "B" in each phrase is silent (quiet). D'oh! So that's the theme. Such as it is.

Nothing else really jumped out at me except the couple of Bible things, since I was thinking about that from the last puzzle. I don't know anything about CALEB the Biblical Spy. (I just know CALEB the Teenaged Crossword Constructor.) And [Pilate's "Behold!"] really threw me off. First I thought it said pirate so I entered ahoy and thought, "But shouldn't that really be avast?" Arrr! Then I noticed it didn't say pirate but it looked like Pilates, the exercise thing, and I finally made my way around to Pontius Pilate. That's who that's supposed to be, right? I suppose it's still possible that I have no idea what I'm talking about. I mean, I think I don't know what it is because it's the Bible and ... maybe it's not even the Bible. Oh man. I'm going to bed now. I'll be back in the morning with more puzzles!

[Updated: Monday morning 10:00am]

Lynn Lempel's CrosSynergy crossword, "Hangers-on," is a silky smooth ride. I can't really figure out why this puzzle felt smoother to me and yet took me a little bit longer than the others I've done so far today. On early-week puzzles that I solve in AcrossLite, I usually just go through all the acrosses, filling in what I can, and then the downs. On this one, there were only three or four squares left blank after that process.

I didn't actually see the theme while solving, but looking back on it, it's solid. Theme answers all begin with a word for something you can hang clothes on:
  • PEG O' MY HEART (never heard of it)
  • ROD CAREW (I'm a fan)
  • LINE DRIVE SINGLE (I had trouble parsing this one: "Line drives in ... something?"
I wanted -ion as the [Ending for a champ?] and not the correct EST. And with the HOO in place, I wanted the basketball answer to be hoop something, instead of HOOK. But it all worked itself out. Fun, breezy puzzle. Off to see what BEQ has in store for us today....

[Updated: Monday morning 10:30am]

Brendan Emmett Quigley gives us a peek into his brain with his "How I Beat Writer's Block — in three easy steps" puzzle today. The steps are:
  • When writer's block strikes, first I PANIC, PANIC, PANIC ...
  • ... then I go on an ... ACID VISION QUEST ...
  • ... then, when the eleventh hour strikes, I just ... COP PATRICK BERRY
As usual, BEQ's puzzle contains a lot of clue/answers relating to music, from the refined CANTATAS to the slangy SQUAWK BOX. Today's "Band You've Never Heard Of" is INTERPOL. (Hard to believe I missed the 2007 hit "The Heinrich Maneuver"!) Your computer terms for the day are LAN [Novell PC connection] and ICAL [Mac program that tracks appointments]. And, of course, the inevitable "Answer You'll Never See in the New York Times": KOTEX. Nicely done, BEQ.