April 22, 2009

Thursday, 4/23

NYT 4:22 (on paper)
LAT 3:44
CS 3:08
Tausig (untimed)

Steve Dobis's New York Times crossword

You know what's insane? In order to get an image of a solution grid for this puzzle (which I solved on paper last week because it was the finals puzzle for the Marbles Amateur Crossword Tournament), I used the "check my solution" option in the NYT applet and just copied my answers over from the hard copy. Typing in 15 lines of answers took me 1:22...and the speediest Monday applet times for the likes of Tyler Hinman and Dan Feyer are around 1:30 but they're reading the clues. Ladies and gentlemen, they are fast. If you're looking to hire a speedy and accurate typist, you've found your man.

The theme answers are four 15-letter entries all clued [See 71-Across]. The 71A clue is [Shade that defines 17-, 27-, 49- and 65-Across], and that hue is BROWN. What's BROWN? There's James BROWN, known as the GODFATHER OF SOUL. There's the nickname for UPS, a FEDEX COMPETITOR. In the NFL, a CLEVELAND PLAYER is a member of the Cleveland Browns. And it's also an IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL. Often when the theme is embodied in a common clue, the answers are phrases that wouldn't usually pass muster as crossword fill—so it's a plus that GODFATHER OF SOUL and IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL are solid and lively 15's.

And now, an olio of non-theme clues:

  • [They need their bearings] clues AUTOS. I couldn't tell you where in a car there might be any bearings.
  • [Romance fiction or horror films, e.g.] sounds like a clue for GENRE but actually, these things are an ESCAPE.
  • Nobody likes a [Midcentury year] Roman numeral clue. This one is MDL, or 1550.
  • This one's interesting: NAVAHO is a [Language that contains no adjectives].
  • [Available] clues ON CALL. Raise your hand if you went with ON SALE first.
  • How often does Def Leppard make the crossword? Not often, my friends. Not often. ON ME completes the title of the [Def Leppard hit "Pour Some Sugar ___"].
  • Have you ever been seated in the LOGE? It's a [High-priced ticket option] and I word I never encounter outside of the puzzle.
  • O'HARE Airport makes an appearance. [Almost 80 million people visit it yearly]—and somehow they all manage to fill the overhead bins above other passengers' seats.
  • [Former Colorado governor Roy] ROMER made the right center of the puzzle a lot tougher for non-Coloradans, didn't he?
  • Ah, Andy GIBB, [1970s-'80s singer Andy], my #1 heartthrob when I was 12. Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett couldn't hold a candle to him.
  • I know Leopold and Loeb, and I know singer Lisa Loeb. [Financial writer Marshall] LOEB is not one of my primary Loebs.
Updated Thursday morning:

Dan Naddor's L.A. Times crossword

Dan Naddor riffs on 33D: BEAN SALAD, a [Picnic veggie dish, and a hint to words hidden in the answers to starred clues]. I had seen the COCOA in 3D: ROCOCO ART, an [18th century French painting style], but thought of hot chocolate rather than cocoa beans so it still took me a while to contemplate hidden beans. The other three are:
  • 19A: A PINTO bean inside KEEP IN TOUCH, or [Parting words].
  • 37A: The mighty SOY bean in IT'S SO YOU, or ["That outfit looks fabulous!"].
  • 57A: A LIMA bean in SLIM AND NONE, [Like unlikely chances]. "Slim to none" feels more in-the-language to me.
Good things come in pairs here. I like the double-GH crossing of GHANA, a [Togo neighbor], and GHIA, [Karmann ___: sports car]. And also the rhyming pair GOTCHA, or [Prankster's cry], and DACHA, or [Russian villa]. Not to mention the two uses of the definite article in THE U.S., [NATO founding member], and THE BENDS, a [Diver's sickness]. And two 7-letter college towns, OBERLIN, home of the [Ohio conservatory] with the same name, and LARAMIE, a [University of Wyoming site].

Did you notice that this crossword was plus-size? Yep: 16 squares wide instead of 15. And at no extra charge!

More at L.A. Crossword Confidential, from PuzzleGirl today.

Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Sh!"

Patrick's theme takes a rude turn, shushing you even though you're just sitting there quietly working a crossword. The theme entries all share the ["Sh!"] clue, and the answers are NOT ANOTHER WORD, SHUT YOUR TRAP, PUT A SOCK IN IT, and I'VE HEARD ENOUGH. I must say, I'm disappointed that Patrick didn't find a way to use the 15-letter SHUT YOUR PIE-HOLE, with its British-inflected aggressive dismissal.

The highlight of this puzzle is the 14 answers that are 6 to 8 letters long and thus less often seen in crosswords. Did you know STAR WARS was a [1977 Best Picture nominee]? The CUE CARD was a [Precursor to the teleprompter]. HEINOUS means [Abominable]. A [Quatrain or sestet] is a STANZA. [One, two, or three] is a CARDINAL number.

Note to the CrosSynergy team: The euro symbol in the 60D clue didn't display in Across Lite (v2.0 for Mac OS X). Did it work in Windows?

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Together at Last"

Ben pays subtle tribute to SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, the [Contract now recognized by the four states whose initials "unite" the words in 18-, 26-, 46-, and 63-Across]. Those states' postal abbreviations form the end of the first and beginning of the second word in these phrases:
  • 18A: [Micronesian locale uninhabited for over 50 years] is the BIKINI ATOLL, home to IA, or Iowa.
  • 26A: [THe Upright Citizens Brigade, e.g.] is an IMPROV TROUPE. VT is Vermont.
  • 46A: [One with a gym body] is an ATHLETIC TYPE. CT is Connecticut.
  • 63A: [Orwell's allegorical Soviets] are FARM ANIMALS. MA is Massachusetts, home to a gay friend of mine and his husband.
For a good take on Miss California's comments on same-sex marriage during the Miss USA pageant, we turn to Jay Smooth of hip-hip video blog Ill Doctrine:

And now, back to our puzzle. What else is in here? This:
[People who may help you get rid of your possessions?] are EXORCISTS.
NSA isn't just the National Security Agency. It also means "no strings attached" as [Initials in casual hookup ads].
[It may be mopped or arched] refers to a BROW.
[Wonder who's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] is STEVIE Wonder. I like the "Is wonder a verb?" momentary confusion.
NIKE is a [Company with a notoriously checkered labor record]. Is it just my impression, or is Ben's Ink Well the crossword with the most obvious moral compass?
[Year in Pope Boniface IV's papacy] is DCIX, or 609. Nobody outside the Vatican enjoys a YOTP ("year of the pope") clue, do they? That "YOTP" abbreviation comes from the REX Parker blog, and REX is clued as [Crossword blogger Parker or film critic Reed]. And speaking of crossword bloggers who aren't me, AMAH is clued as a [Word meaning "Indian nurse" that Jim Horne of the New York Times crossword blog says "you just have to learn"].
RENO, NV is the [Atlantis Casino locale, on an envelope].
OSMIC means [Related to element #76]. I'm guessing that's osmium, and no, I don't know what it's used for.
ESE is clued as [Caló homeboy]. I learned this word from TV cop dramas, and the clue's a nice change-up from east-southeast or a language suffix.
[Maker of inedible chips] is INTEL. I kinda wanted PRINGLES here.
EMES doesn't appear in puzzles too often. The clue is [Kosher products company that falsely advertised vegetarian gelatin]. Never heard of it, but it's good to be on the lookout for false vegetarian claims. (Remember when McDonalds finally revealed, years late, that its no-longer-fried-in-beef-tallow french fries still had real beef flavor and thus were not vegetarian after all?)