August 31, 2009

Tuesday, 9/1/09

Jonesin' 3:32
NYT 3:12
LAT 2:42
CS untimed (J—Downs. Mostly...)

I'm late to the puzzle and the blog tonight—my kid and I did the reverse commute in rush hour and met my husband downtown at the Willis Tower (You know, the Sears Tower under its new name.) There are these new SkyLedges that telescope out from the west side of the building. They're glass boxes somewhere in the neighborhood of 4x8 feet, and the view below your feet is straight down about 1,350 feet. I didn't get the slightest bit woozy, so I pronounce the SkyLedges to be a terrific innovation in SkyDeck design. We stuck around to watch the sunset, which...looked exactly like the sunset I saw a month ago from the Hancock building's 94th floor.

Steven Ginzburg's New York Times crossword

The theme is embodied by 37A: [How 18-, 24-, 47- and 56-Across may be defined] is BY HOOK OR BY CROOK, meaning that those four answers can be defined by the wordhook or the word crook. In fact, there are two hooks—18A is a SHARP TURN and 47A is a SWINGING PUNCH—and two crooks—24A is a SHEPHERD'S CANE (though I think of canes as being shorter, more like hip-high, and a shepherd's crook/staff as being head-high) and 56A is a RACKETEER.

You gotta watch out for mis-parsing multi-word answers in the grid. 5D is SAYS HI TO ([Greets informally]), but the eye sees a certain 4-letter word in the midst. "Say 'shit-O'"?

I'm sleepy and not seeing anything to single out in the "wow," "meh," tough, or ICKY ([Gross, in kidspeak]) departments, so I'll sign off now and see you again in the morning.

Updated Tuesday morning:

Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "I'm Outta Here"—Janie's review

No, Randy's not bidding us farewell, but he has taken the paired "IM" outta five in-the-language phrases and given us five almost-in-the-language phrases that have a colorful meaning all their own. I love this kind of theme and the puzzle Randy created today. [In all likelihood] ODDS ARE if you enjoy this kind of wordplay as well, you'll derive the same pleasure I did in solving it.

  • 16A. When AJAX [Cleanser with the motto "Stronger than dirt!] introduced its laundry detergent in the 1960s, I imagine their advertising department wanted to compare it to other products out there by saying, "It's new and improved!" Starting with this classic ad-speak enticement, we now get the clue [Slogan about a just discovered math theorem?] and the "no-IM" twist that produces "IT'S NEW AND PROVED!" Can't argue with that!
  • 26A. One of the great features of our justice system is the panel of citizens who make decisions of innocence or guilt in civil and criminal cases. Trial lawyers strive hard to find a prejudice-free, impartial jury—six people for civil cases, twelve for criminal. Much effort is put into making certain they're all there and accounted for, too. Nothing worse than an [Incomplete peer group?] or a PARTIAL JURY...
  • 34A. Department stores almost always sell items like cosmetics and candy close to the cash registers on the first floor. Why? Because marketers know that, when they get THE URGE, these are the kinds of items that consumers will pick up on sudden impulse. An EMT, however, responding to a call for assistance, is more likely to be pleased by picking up a [Quick heartbeat?] or SUDDEN PULSE in an otherwise non-responsive patient.
  • 46A. Sometimes, despite our best efforts to keep ’em, we'll lose a tooth or two—permanently... That's when it may be time for a dental implant. If you're also a candidate for some even more specialized care (and if your practitioner has a botanical bent...), you might encounter [A periodontist's petunia?] or DENTAL PLANT. (Some of the humor today is soooo corny—and no doubt, that's why I like it!)
  • 57A. The efforts of someone who's worked late at the office night after night to finish up an important memo or campaign probably impressed one's boss. If, on the other hand, the same worker then [Kept arguing for a salary increase, e.g.?] s/he'd be said to have PRESSED ONE'S BOSS.
Other clues and/or fill that stand out today include:
  • The superhero-type combo of XENA [Lucy Lawless role] followed by SEAGAL [Action movie actor Steven]. Each has played the moment when s/he SAVES THE DAY [Becomes a hero].
  • Then there the real pugilists ALI ["The Louisville Lip] and DURAN [Ring champion Roberto]. Not to mention [Larry slapper] MOE (as in The Three Stooges: Larry, Moe and Curly...).
  • The [Chain of evidence?] refers to DNA; and that [Eur. political entity once led by Charlemagne] is the HRE or Holy Roman Empire, which—as I remember being taught—was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire...
  • A [Corner former] (i.e., something that forms a corner) is a CROSS-STREET. And doesn't that string of consonants look great in the grid?
Solved this one almost entirely with the downs, but did have some trouble in the SW—even when I looked at the clue foe 49A [Brought home]. My first entry of EARNED was in the right area, but was the wrong word—which NETTED me some more questions, rather than answers I'm afraid.

Sharon Petersen's Los Angeles Times crossword

The theme is solid Tuesday fare and the overall cluing is at a solid Tuesday level of easiness. But what makes this puzzle stand out is the liveliness of the fill, including the theme entries. Each theme entry's first word can follow WILD (68-Across) to make a new compound word, and the phrases themselves fit right in with the other more colorful fill:
  • 17A. CAT BURGLAR is a [Stealthy felon]. Wasn't Cary Grant a cat burglar in To Catch a Thief?
  • 61A. The FIRE ESCAPE is an [Apartment building emergency exit].
  • 11D. The FLOWER GIRL is a [Wedding party tyke], typically.
  • 28D. One key [Boating safety feature] is a LIFE JACKET.
Among the zippier fill, we have "GET REAL" (["Oh, be serious!"]), CASH COW ([Constant moneymaker]), the [Photographer's request] of "SAY CHEESE," and those [Art pieces that hang from the ceiling], MOBILES. I spent a few minutes appreciating Alexander Calder's Universe in the Sears Tower lobby—this photo shows about two thirds of this giant, multi-piece moving sculpture.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "You Sound Like L"

Each theme entry takes a familiar phrase and inserts an L into the verb-based word to form something new and a tad surprising. It's a good thing when you get those little surprised "ahas" when you're working out a theme, isn't it?
  • 20A. If you're [Hip to sounds from Rice Krispies?], you're CRACKLING WISE (cracking wise).
  • 31A. Growing concern + L = GROWLING CONCERN, or [Getting the right pitch and volume, for a lion?].
  • 39A. [Leftovers from sticking doughy lumps in a coffee percolator?] are DUMPLING GROUNDS. Way to ruin dumplings for us, Matt! "Doughy lumps" and coffee grounds make dumplings seem so unsavory.
  • 55A. Add an L to "starting over" and you get STARTLING OVER, or [Scaring yet again?].

My favorite part of this puzzle is all the 7-letter answers in the fill. The word count isn't low thanks to all those 3s, but I'm less likely to notice a slew of 3s if my eyes have been bedazzled by 7s.