August 17, 2009

Tuesday, 8/18

Jonesin' 3:39
LAT 2:59
NYT 2:56
CS untimed (J)

Have you been fretting about the trend of puzzles disappearing from various publications? Lewis Grossberger is on the case and suspects an international conspiracy. His blog post made me laugh...and get nervous. (Thanks to Deb Amlen for the link.)

Tony Orbach's New York Times crossword

This delightful crossword from Tony features five sweet comestibles whose names begin with a fruit, and of course he saved the best (ORANGE! CRUSH) for last:

  • 17A. BANANA SPLIT is a [Fountain treat]. Yum.
  • 27A. [Tangy pie filler] is LEMON CREAM. Meh. I don't like lemon in my desserts.
  • 37A. APPLE CRUMBLE is a [Relative of a certain cobbler]. APPLE STRUDEL would be a more familiar answer—I don't see many ___ crumbles on the menus 'round these parts.
  • 51A. CHERRY MASH is some sort of [Candy bar with maraschinos] that I've never heard of.
  • 59A. What a horrid little clue [Popular Fanta-like soda] is! The Fanta people must be ecstatic at the validation this clue gives them for their lame advertising attempts in recent years. Does anyone select Fanta by name? ORANGE CRUSH has much more name recognition and brand identity.

Among the best parts of the fill are more food items. The BROWN COW is a [Root beer float with chocolate ice cream]; with vanilla, it's a black cow. T-BONE STEAKS are [Ribeye alternatives]. Fig Newtons are evoked by ISAAC NEWTON, the [Scientist who experienced a great fall?]. PONIES UP ([Pays what's due]) appears opposite BROWN COW but...that's not edible in the American diet.

Other tasty inedible answers: KOWTOW is [Show deep respect (to)]. The [Robert Ludlum hero searching for his identity] is Jason BOURNE. Work done IN HOUSE is [Not farmed out]. SEA SALT's a [Natural seasoning]. Daedalus's son ICARUS, well, [He flew too close to the sun, in myth]. "MY WORD!" means ["Dear me!"]. Favorite clue: [Things with cups and hooks] sounded mechanical or golf-ish, but it's a BRA.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Class Act"—Janie's review

This was one of those puzzles whose theme did not become clear to me until I'd finished solving altogether. It's not the flashiest, but it's solid and allows for the inclusion of some fine fill—both themed and un-. Each of the theme phrases begins with a word that is synonymous with the word "class"—as in "ilk." Go to the head of the class—as in "school room"—if you filled in:
  • 17A. TYPE A LETTER for [Prepare some business correspondence].
  • 11D. SORT THE MAIL for [Do an office chore]. TOGETHER with 17A, this one had me thinking there was some sort of "workplace" component to the theme. Not.
  • 25D. "KIND OF A DRAG" for [1967 hit by The Buckinghams]. Loved this song. Back in the day...
  • 53A. VARIETY SHOW for [Carol Burnett hosted one for 11 years]. And it still remains a classic in its class. Another classic in its class (sit-coms this time)—The Honeymooners, in which Ed NORTON was Ralph [Kramden's crony].
Other clues and/or fill I particularly liked or that caught my attention include:
  • SEALEGS for [Ability to walk on deck]. If you've ever taken an ocean voyage, you'll really understand. What I hadn't been prepared for (after a 7-day jaunt by ocean-liner to Bermuda), was how long it would take me to "lose" my sealegs once I was back on terra firma.
  • [Tantrum-throwing tykes] are BRATS. Exhausted after a good SOB- [Blubber] session, another kind of youngster, the [Tired toddler...] might make a [...request] and say, "CARRY ME." Aaw.
  • BRECK for [Shampoo brand]. Wow. Breck Shampoo is still available. I grew up in a period when the pastel "Breck Girl," with her perfect coif—a page-boy style, often as not—and serene, demure expression was the model of femininity that was held up for tweens and adolescents to emulate. Before she was "Kim Basinger, star of the silver-screen," Kim Basinger was a "Breck Girl."
  • We get both EVOKE [Cause to appear] and EVINCE [Display clearly]. No, they're not synonymous, but (depending on the context) they're not entirely unrelated either. Regardless, they do live close to each other in the dictionary.
  • There's a beauty of a cross at the "Q" of the grid-center QATAR with QUATRAIN, and some other beautiful fill in [Star-related] ASTRAL and CALICO, today clued as a [Mottled cat]. And RED SOX, too—my next fave team in the AL after my beloved if beleaugered Birds...
With a "Class Act" comprised of type, sort, kind and variety, the bonus fill would have to be ROGET, the [Surname that synonymous with synonyms]. OHO!

Gail Grabowski's Los Angeles Times crossword

The theme is BABY stuff, and SIT TIGHT, or [Take no action], points to babysit. Which is what I'm doing right now—my son's best friend is here for the day. So in lieu of blogging about this puzzle, I'll point you towards PuzzleGirl's L.A. Crossword Confidential post, which touches on the bowling-related baby split, which is not a phrase I'd ever encountered before. Wait, one thing: I like the ]Must-miss movie rating] NO STARS. I love Anthony Lane's savage movie reviews in the New Yorker, but he doesn't give star ratings. Roger Ebert does, and his reviews of dreadful movies are also entertaining. Ebert's 0- to 1.5-star reviews of recent movies are gathered at the Your Movie Sucks© files. Excerpt from his trashing of this summer's Transformers movie: "If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together."

Updated Tuesday afternoon:

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "From A to B"

Matt's theme this week involves changing one A in each of four phrases into a B:
  • 19A. "Rob a stagecoach" turns into a Charles ROBB STAGECOACH, or [Western carriage for a former Virginia governor?]. Having two unchanged A's is less thbn idebl.
  • 31A. "I smell a rat" becomes I SMELL BRAT, or ["Wow, it stinks like a spoiled kid in here"]. A great many of the "brats" one encounters in public places are kids who are simply overtired or hungry.
  • 36A. [Device that takes pictures of poetic metric units?] is an IAMB CAMERA (I Am a Camera). Can you take pictures of things you hear?
  • 47A. "Sleeps like a log" is changed into SLEEPS LIKE BLOG, or [Snoozes, online journal-style, to Tonto?]. Uh, blogs don't sleep. You can sleep like my monitor or my computer, but the blog never sleeps.

Gotta get some work done now before my son's sleepover begins—ciao!