April 13, 2009

Tuesday, 4/14

CS 3:12
Jonesin' 3:11
NYT 2:50
LAT 2:48

I'm not an ardent baseball fan, but it was cool to see the Mets' new home, CitiField (brick wall? totally copying Wrigley Field), and to watch the pitcher throw himself clear off the mound. If things like that happened more often, I, for one, would watch more baseball.

Hey, last week when I resolutely avoided turning on my laptop during vacation, it turns out I missed an e-mail from the Jeopardy! folks inviting me to the Chicago auditions this spring. I thought there was no chance they'd take a tardy RSVP, but whaddaya know? They did! Jeopardy! veterans, don't hesitate to send me your audition success tips before May 28.

Barry Boone's New York Times crossword

Two recent Sunday puzzles (one by Dan Naddor for the syndicated L.A. Times crossword, the other a Cox/Rathvon creation for the Boston Globe) had a hidden gems theme in which made-up phrases like TAGAMET HYSTERIA hid the names of gems. In Barry Boone's NYT puzzle, the five phrases that hide the gems are real ones, so the letters in the gem names don't appear consecutively. The five HIDDEN GEMS are in the circled squares in these answers:

  • JAGGED EDGE was a [1985 Glenn Close/Jeff Bridges thriller].
  • The PONY EXPRESS was a [Mail service made obsolete by the transcontinental telegraph].
  • DOG PADDLE is a [Simple swimming stroke]. Wouldn't it be great if there were an Olympic dog paddle event?
  • TOLL PLAZA is a [Widening in a highway, maybe].
  • MARCUS WELBY was a [1970s Robert Young TV role].
Let's see what else we have here. Plenty of good stuff: There's the unlucky EIGHT BALL, clued with [It's last to be sunk]. Its opposite number is DISSIDENT, like [Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet era, e.g.]. Speaking of Soviets, ISTO is clued by way of [Lenin's "What ___ Be Done?"]. On the capitalist side, there's [Economist John Maynard ___] KEYNES. KETTLES is another KE-ES word; they're [Fish stew containers] like the one filled with the crawfish my husband ordered last Friday. INDY is the nickname of Indiana Jones, a [Four-time Harrison Ford film role]. [St. Barthelemy et d'autres] are ILES, or "islands" in French. ZAIRE was [Congo's name before 1997]. SAXON is clued well, as [The "S" in WASP]. [Groveled] means ATE DIRT, figuratively. The [Contents of the Spanish Main] are AGUA, just plain seawater.

Italy comes in for TREVI, or [Rome's ___ Fountain]. [Love, Italian-style] is AMORE. And SETTE is "seven," the [Number of hills in Roma].

Baseball gets a few references, too. MLB is the [World Series org.]. [Most Little Leaguers] are BOYS, still. [Bat, ball, glove, etc.] are a baseball player's GEAR. To SHAG is to [Catch and throw back, as fly balls]. And [Farm team] is...OXEN!

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "Triple Threats"

Cool theme—famous (or at least somewhat noted) people whose names have a pile-up of three consecutive letters that are the same:
  • JOSS STONE is the young [Singer with the album "Mind, Body & Soul"].
  • BILL LAIMBEER is [One of the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys" of the 1990s].
  • JEFF FOXWORTHY [can tell if "you might be a redneck"].
  • RENEE ESTEVEZ is the [Sister of actor Emilio and semi-regular on "The West Wing"]. Who? I knew Martin Sheen's actor sons were Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, but did not know the family also included sister Renee.
  • LYNN NEARY is an [NPR books reporter and former "All Things Considered" cohost]. I may or may not recognize her name. She probably knows Neal Conan. I know Neal Conan. So the degrees of separation is small...but I can't say I really know who Lynn Neary is.
My mom just did a crossword in which AGAMA was clued as a lizard. Here, it's [Scripture that's source to yoga methods]. Do lizards excel at yoga? They certainly know how to enter a zen state of serene mindfulness. Or maybe that's cold-blooded torpor. Hard to tell the difference.

XENIA is clued as the [Ohio city where a Burger King worker YouTubed himself bathing in the sink in 2008]. Say what? I missed that one. Here's a video for you if you're curious. (It's a large sink.) In other geography, we've got FIJI clued as a [Nation with three dots in a row]. (Not in all caps, but as Fiji, yes.) That ties in nicely with the letter-trio theme. How often do you suppose there are Fiji hijinks going on? Every single day, I'm guessing.

Billie Truitt's Los Angeles Times crossword

Billie Truitt cooked up five phrases consisting of two words that are the same save for an R after the initial consonant in the first word. That doesn't sound clear at all, does it? But it looks clear as day:
  • [11:00 a.m. restaurant patrons?] are the BRUNCH BUNCH. It's late Monday night as I write this, but now I want Blackberry Bliss Cakes for brunch.
  • [Fraternity nerd?] is a GREEK GEEK. Hey, a shout-out to Tyler Hinman! He was in a frat at RPI.
  • [Advice from the auto club?] is a TRIP TIP.
  • [Whimsical Barbie?] is a DROLL DOLL.
  • If you're [Quite small-minded?], you're PRETTY PETTY.
A nice feature of this puzzle is the double-action clues. [Caboose's place] clues both REAR and END—and those two together could be clued as [Caboose, slangily]. [Deadlocked] means both EVEN and TIED.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy crossword, "Jump the Gun"

If you jump the gun, you get a HEAD START ([Unfair advantage]). The beginnings of three theme answers don't have unfair advantages, but they do start with words that are slang for the head:
  • [Aid in reading a road map] is the DOME LIGHT in your car. Is a DOME always bald?
  • To [Experiment] with something is to NOODLE AROUND. That Mario Batali's got a good NOODLE for pasta sauces, doesn't he?
  • [Mod furniture of the '60s] is still around, but aimed at children—the BEAN BAG CHAIR. I'm not sure I know anyone who uses BEAN to mean "head" outside of people writing crossword clues like [French bean?]/TETE.
The LILAC is the [State flower of New Hampshire] and no other state, which surprises me. Lilacs are so lovely, more states should single them out for this honor. I suspect the local blooms are at least a month off, as the lilac bushes are barely beginning to leaf out. If you're fond of flora, you'll like Wikipedia's photo-illustrated list of state flowers.

Favorite nonfloral clue: [It doesn't take much] for a DEUCE, the playing card.