July 21, 2009

Wednesday, 7/22

BEQ 5:37
Onion 4:03
NYT 3:59
LAT 2:46
CS 5:50 (J—paper)

TV alert! The Dinner Impossible show filmed at the ACPT is reairing on the Food Network tonight. If you missed it this spring, tune in to see Andrea Carla Michaels steal the show. (Thanks to Eric Maddy for the heads-up.)

Patrick Blindauer's New York Times crossword

Patrick's puzzle riffs on SLOPPY JOES (64A: [School cafeteria fare...and a hint to this puzzle's theme]) by taking the other five permutations of the letters JOE and plunking them down as the first names of five famous guys named JOE:

  • 17A. EOJ FRAZIER is your [Olympic boxing gold medalist of 1964].
  • 25A. Broadway JEO NAMATH was the Jets' [Hero of Super Bowl III].
  • 30A. The [47th U.S. vice president] is OJE BIDEN.
  • 45A. OEJ PESCI is the [Oscar winner of 1990].
  • 51A. EJO COCKER is the [Singer on day three of 1969's Woodstock]. Have you seen that "captioned for the clear-headed" video of his Beatles cover? "Hoggify."

We have so many notable Joe achievements! Won a gold medal, won the Super Bowl, won the second highest office in the land, won an Oscar...and won the right to be mocked. This is not the usual sort of theme, so good job coming up with a variant of the anagram theme that's rich in Scrabbly goodness.

Without further ado, today's clue roundup:
  • Tying in with Woodstock and the '60s, we have 15A: [Historic San Francisco theater, with "the"] for ROXIE (I knew only of various Roxy theaters) and 10A: illicit ACID, clued with [It was dropped in the '60s]. Make love, not war!
  • 20A. [For the nonce] is a quaint clue for PRO TEM. I love "nonce."
  • 38A. LAVA is an [Abrasive soap brand]. Ow. Probably don't want to use this bar soap on your naughty bits.
  • 47A. [Pockets of dough?] are PITAS, as in pita breads.
  • 61A. The [Egyptian god with the head of a jackal] is named ANUBIS. Does anyone use this guy in cryptic crosswords? He could be the answer to a container clue.
  • 67A. Last time I saw ILLER in a crossword, it was icky. Its ickiness is somewhat ameliorated by the tag in the clue, [More sick, in dialect]. Which dialect might this be, I wonder?
  • 68A. [Bibliophile's suffix] is -IANA, as in, say, Dickensiana.
  • 1D. The trickiest clue, I thought, was one of the first I wrestled with. [Jewish leader?] isn't the prefix JUDEO, it's not a RABBI, it's not PERES or BEGIN. It's ALEPH, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Is it kosher to use "Jewish" and "Hebrew" interchangeably like this?
  • 6D. [Cartoonist Chast] is named ROZ. I love her work. The alphabet book she illustrated for Steve Martin is considerably darker than most ABC books, and layered with so many juicy little twists. WACO, by the way, is 22D: [Steve Martin's birthplace].
  • 11D. CD PLAYERS are [Sound system components].
  • 44D. ETON is a [Neighbor of Slough]. Slough, the home of the paper company in the original British The Office?

Updated Wednesday morning:

Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Field Trip"―Janie's review

Sometimes art does seem to imitate life. I'm taking a vacation day today because, thanks to puzzle pal Sara, I'll be at Yankee Stadium this afternoon for the Yankee/Orioles game. So how fitting it is that the "field trip" in the title refers to the national pastime that I'll be enjoying this very day. (And how fitting it is that the constructor's pre-hyphenate last name describes the material of so many of the best baseball bats!) Looking at the "field trip" that's been plotted around that central BASES [Diamond quartet (and this puzzle's theme)] at 37A, we have:
  • 17A. FIRST FAMILY [1600 Pennsylvania Avenue residents]. Before I realized this puzzle would take us for a trip around the baseball field, I thought maybe all of the theme fill would relate to things/people one might encounter on a trip to Washington, D. C....
  • 11D. SECOND PRIZE [Also-ran's award]. I know it's so, but still―ouch. Sure it's not the top honor, but maybe [Red ribbon award in the States]? (Only because in Canada, second place gets a blue ribbon.)
  • 53A. THIRD ESTATE [The common people]. Love this fill. Do you know about the "estates of the realm"? This caste system goes back to the Middle Ages, where the First Estate was made up of the clergy; the Second Estate, nobility; and the Third Estate, commoners. This looks to be first-time fill in a major puzzle (ditto 11D). The Fourth Estate, as you probably know, is the reserved for the press and its usage dates back to the 19th century; the Fifth Estate, everything else―like trade unions, non-mainstream media, organized crime...
  • 25D. HOME COUNTRY [Birthplace]. This is another phrase that makes its first appearance in a major puzzle.
Balancing the sports theme is a strong musical sub-theme:
  • [Opera opener] is ACT I; you can almost hear the strains of ["Carmen" composer] BIZET;
  • OLIVIA [Singer Newton-John] made her mark in the pop world, but if she ever recorded standards, she could do worse than to have a go at IT'S MAGIC [Styne/Cahn hit song of 1947] (and another example of "first-time" fill);
  • [Rappers' improvisations] are RHYMES of course;
  • WHITE TIE [Formal invitation specification], which seems to be appearing in a CS puzzle for the first time, easily summons up the elegant Irving Berlin song "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails"; and finally,
  • while it's clued simply as [Herder], I was immediately put in mind of "I'm an Old COWHAND from the Rio Grande," written by Savannah-born Johnny Mercer (for the movie Rhythm on the Range, 1936) about a 20th-century cowboy who has little in common with cowboys of old. The link here will take you to a clip from the movie, as it was performed by Bing Crosby, Martha Raye, Louis Prima and others.
And how large is that [Large African expanse] known as the SAHARA? Pret' darn large―some 3.5 million square miles, which is almost the size of the U.S. or Europe. SAY WHAT? ["Huh?"] Yep―that's seriously large. One can only hope for many OASES [Desert havens] midst all that sand!

Timothy Meaker's Los Angeles Times crossword

I wrote this puppy up last night at L.A. Crossword Confidential. It was one of the weirdest theme encounters I've had in some time, as two thirds of the phrases that begin with a kind of SANDWICH were not kinds of sandwiches in my vocabulary. Further unsettling me, the two 8-letter theme answers were in tasty triple-stacks of 8-letter answers, which meant my eyeballs looked at the other four 8s a little harder to see if they were thematic. "Lemon sandwich? Well, that sounds as plausible as a Western sandwich."

Allow me to plagiarize myself and borrow my theme writeup from LACC: The SANDWICH clue, 70A: [Lunch order that can follow the starts of 1-, 35- and 43-Across], was crystal clear. But the sandwiches! They hit my sweet spot a mere one third of the time.

Theme answers:
  • 1A: [Bar mixer] (CLUB SODA). We all know what a club sandwich is, right? Some sort of lunchmeat, maybe turkey, plus bacon, lettuce, and tomato on toast? Cut into cute little triangles?
  • 35A: [Jerusalem prayer site] (WESTERN WALL). Neither PuzzleGirl nor I had ever heard of the Western sandwich. Professor Google tells me that first of all, a Denver omelet and a Western omelet are pretty much the same thing, and a Denver sandwich or a Western sandwich is that omelet smacked between a couple slices of toast. Ham, green peppers, and onions mixed into the eggs, if I recall correctly. I can't say I've ever seen this concoction on a diner menu in the Midwest. An LACC reader reports seeing this sandwich in Baltimore four to six decades ago.
  • 43A: [Unrestricted trading areas] (OPEN MARKETS). OPEN MARKETS doesn't feel like a Monday-friendly entry, which helps account for why this is a Wednesday crossword. I hit the skids here, too, as I call 'em open-faced sandwiches rather than open sandwiches.

More on the fill and whatnot over at the other blog.

Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "Three MCs and One DJ"

Paying respect to the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, who's just been diagnosed with salivary gland cancer, Brendan works in three MC insertions and one DJ insertion. Do the Beastie Boys have three MCs and one DJ? (Brendan's post includes a video of a song with the same title as the puzzle.) How much crossover is there between an MC and a DJ? These things are beyond my ken. The theme entries insert MC inside "recovery room" (RECOVERY ROM-COM, or romantic comedy), "see ya later" (SEE YMCA LATER—good surprise twist taking "ya" to YMCA), and "suited to a T" (SUITED TO A TOMCAT). The DJ makes Austin Powers into the phrase ADJUSTIN' POWERS, or [Fine-tunin' supernations?], which hurts a bit. How might one adjust a nation, exactly?

I know there are genuine MATH WHIZzes who read this blog. Is [Expert in KenKen, say] a good clue for your kind?

Nuttiest-looking answer: K.C. ROYALS all mashed up in the grid as KCROYALS. They're the [Kauffman Stadium team, for short], and I can't say I've ever heard of that stadium. K.C. keeps it on the D.L.

Not the Quigleyest fill ever—ITERS, HOER, ARETE, GENU, YAP AT? Those make the EELER seem smooth by comparison. But I'll cut Brendan some slack because he loves the Beastie Boys and he clearly just started cooking up this puzzle after hearing Yauch's news on Monday.

Ben Tausig's Onion A.V. Club crossword

This week's Onion theme involves changing -ALE to -AIL in familiar phrases:
  • 17A. [Stage show featuring big packages?] is a MAIL REVUE. The clue also works for the base phrase, "male revue."
  • 31A. [Thing posted at the Vatican City prison?] is CHRISTIAN BAIL, and unless the Pope's prisoners hang posters of Christian Bale, this clue does not work for the base phrase.
  • 36A. A clearance sale turns into CLEARANCE SAIL, or [Rigging purchased out-of-season?].
  • 56A. The goofiest thing in the whole puzzle is the image presented by PAIL-FACED, or [Having a bucket for a mouth and a handle for a nose?].

Five clues:
  • 9A. PETCO? [They sell grasshoppers as food] for your reptile.
  • 45A. TETS, or Asian New Years, are annual [Events during which it is inauspicious to eat duck or shrimp]. The other 364 days a year, this remains inauspicious for the duck and the shrimp.
  • 49A. An ARTEL is a [Soviet co-op]. Crosswordese! Dictionary tells me it predates the Soviet Union and is a historical term for a cooperative of craftsmen living and working together in prerevolutionary Russia. I'll bet they had male revues for entertainment.
  • 12D. The CAT is the [Animal called "maeow" in Thai]. That makes sense.
  • 57D. IT'S ["___ Always Sunny in Philadelphia"] is a funny show on TV.

Updated Wednesday afternoon:
Janie here. The O's lost 6-4, but their two home runs at the top of the 9th and the great company more than compensated. A good time was had by all!!