April 19, 2009

Monday, 4/20

BEQ 4:11
NYT 3:24 (paper)
CS 2:51
LAT 2:50
Jonesin' tba

Wow, when you don't blog a bunch of puzzles until Sunday afternoon, when 5:00 rolls around the last thing you want to do is blog another crossword. Sorry to be so tardy. Long weekend!

Randall Hartman's New York Times crossword

I did this puzzle last week when Will Shortz sent the puzzles along for the Marbles Amateur Crossword Tournament, and it felt like such slow going. Paper! I don't like doing crosswords on paper as much as online.

The theme is the J CREW, a [Retail clothing giant...or a description of 17- and 53-Across and 10- and 24-Down?]. The J CREW are four people with J.J. initials, supplemented by a JELLY JAR that's not part of the theme. The people include JANIS JOPLIN, the ["Me and Bobby McGee" singer, 1971]—and I just now noticed that this clue repeats a word in the grid, MCGEE or [Fibber of old radio]. I missed seeing that a few days ago, just as I often miss seeing such duplications. JACOB JAVITS is the NYC-centric answer here; [Longtime New York senator for whom a center is named] refers to a convention center in New York. JOE JACKSON is not only the "Stepping Out" singer but also [White Sox outfielder nicknamed Shoeless]. JESSE JAMES was a [Brother outlaw in the Wild West]. Jesse Jackson's first and last name were used elsewhere, so he's an honorary member of the theme.

It's fun to have so many J words in a Monday puzzle, isn't it? A knights' JOUST meets JOJO, clued by way of ["___ left his home in Tucson, Arizona" (Beatles lyric)]. There's a HUNG JURY, which is [Cause for a mistrial]. And [Mexican beans] of the mushy refried variety are FRIJOLES (yum). It's been a long time since I've run across a mention of JAYE, ["The Gong Show" panelist ___ P. Morgan]. Remember her? Without a J, we have other good stuff, like THE MASK, the [1994 Jim Carrey film]; PANACHE, or [Flair]; and YES, I KNOW, or ["So you've said"]. The most topically current clue is [Bo : Obama :: ___ : Roosevelt]. Bo is the First Family's new Portuguese water dog, and FALA was FDR's dog. FALA's a lousy entry, if you ask me, but the topicality of White House dogs this month revives it.

Updated Monday morning:

David Cromer's L.A. Times crossword

Back in the '70s, there was a pop-culture moment in which CB radios were all the rage. The song "Convoy" ensured that my generation learned the basic CB lingo. So when the beginning of [Start of a trucker's communication] was BREAKER, I filled in the rest immediately: BREAKER ONE-NINE. The following theme clue, [Start of a sound man's mike check], began with TESTING, and though there wasn't enough room for ONE, TWO, THREE to follow it, clearly this was a word + numbers theme, right? Wrong:

  • [Start of many a corny joke] is KNOCK-KNOCK.
  • [Start of a trucker's communication] is BREAKER, BREAKER. My 1-9 is nowhere to be found, alas.
  • [Start of a sound man's mike check] is TESTING...TESTING.
  • [Start of a newsboy's cry] is EXTRA, EXTRA.
Among the tougher clues in this Monday puzzle were these:
  • [Play-of-color gem] is the OPAL.
  • [To the left, at sea] is APORT.
  • To [Remove by percolation] is to LEACH it.
  • Remember [Hannibal the Cannibal], Hannibal LECTER?
  • TOKE means [Casino gratuity] as well as a drag on a joint.
  • [2007 William P. Young Christian-themed best-seller] is THE SHACK. Never heard of it. The B-52s song "Love Shack," on the other hand, is much more familiar.
Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's CrosSynergy crossword, "On the Ball"

"On the ball" means smart, quick-witted, and the four theme entries in this puzzle begin with SMART and its synonyms:
  • 18A: QUICK BREAD is a [Bake sale offering]. The clue seems a little vague, but it's hard to clue this more specifically without using the word "bread." Oh, wait. Muffins are quick breads. [Blueberry muffin, e.g.] would work.
  • 26A: BRIGHT FUTURE is a [Good thing to look forward to].
  • 44A: [Fashionista, usually] is a SHARP DRESSER.
  • 57A: SMART ALECK is a [Sassy sort].
Assorted clues:
  • [Successor of Dag Hammarskjold] is U THANT.
  • [Dadaist who called himself both Hans and Jean] is ARP.
  • [Dept. that sponsors the 4-H club] is AGR.
  • [Precipitous plummet] is a NOSE-DIVE. Great entry.
  • [Vegas hotel that's named for a sword] is EXCALIBUR. Also a great entry.
  • [They drill for black gold] clues OIL RIGS. The "they" made me think we wanted people here, not machines.
  • C.S. LEWIS is another lively answer—clued as [Creator of Narnia].
  • Not crazy about the adjective TWO-STROKE, [Like some penalties in golf].
Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "Comparatively Speaking"

This puzzle discriminates against Mac users, I tell you. It took me a long time to figure out the theme and fill in the upper left corner, because [Where most downloaded files go] is to my Downloads folder or to the desktop. TEMP DIRECTORY? Uh, no. I've been using Macs since the early '90s and this is not a phrase that means anything to me.

The theme goes on to make things TEMPER and TEMPEST: [Hissy fit] is a TEMPER TANTRUM and [Buffeted during a strong blow at sea] clues TEMPEST-TOSSED. Wouldn't it be fun if there were varying degrees of temporariness that could be used in superlative forms? If there were a temp directory, a temper directory for files stored for less time, and a tempest directory for the most fleeting file storage?

Favorite clues and answers:
  • 16A: [Bit of cocoa?] is the SILENT A at the end.
  • 18/21A: The TSONGAS / ARENA is a [Lowell, Massachusetts sporting/concert venue named after a former senator]. I liked Paul Tsongas, but not the lying about his health.
  • 47A: [Telephone conversations on the web technology, for short] is VOIP. I like the au courantness of VOIP, but the clue needed to be recast as [Technology for phone conversations on the web, for short]—I was parsing it as "phone conversations about web technology," which made no sense.
  • 54A: WETNAPS! [They may come in packets with buffalo wings].
  • 3D: WHAT ELSE? is clued ["You guessed it!"]. Have you seen this Mother's Day video? The gift scene comes to mind whenever I read the words "What else?"