November 09, 2009

Tuesday, 11/10/09

Jonesin' 3:57
NYT 2:50
LAT 2:30
CS untimed

Uh, yeah, hi. I haven't done the puzzle yet because it's about to come out but I am about to leave to take a friend to a late-night MRI appointment (they have those!), and I just got home from the vaccination clinic (2.5-hour wait). Gah!

Go ahead and discuss amongst yourselves for the time being. It's Tuesday. How mystifying can a Tuesday theme be, anyway?

Updated Tuesday morning:

Bruce Venzke & Stella Daily's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Assorted Searches"—Janie's review

Last Tuesday, Doug Peterson gave us a puzzle entitled "Search Party." Bruce and Stella look to have developed the idea Doug set in motion. Now where the connection between today's title and today's theme fill is concerned, what ya sees is what ya gets: four theme phrases, each describing the object of a different search. The variety and range of quests, however, makes for some very fresh fill, and there's a nice SENSE of PLAY in the non-theme fill as well. Cue up The Coasters' "Searchin'" as you, too, go looking for the:

• 17A. [Object of a Ponce de León search] FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH.
• 26A. [Object of an search] PERFECT MATCH. Finian's Rainbow is enjoying a well-reviewed revival on Broadway right now, and in that Burton Lane/Yip Harburg score, our heroine Sharon explains in song that in matters of the heart, she'd been well-advised to "look to the rainbow" and then "follow the fella who follows a dream." Ah, for the days before the internet!
• 48A. [Object of a Sir Lancelot search] THE HOLY GRAIL. Wait—ya mean?...I thought that was the object of a Monty Python search!
• 63A. [Object of many a hopeful machine inventor's search] PERPETUAL MOTION. Hopeful—and deluded...

Bruce and Stella do name a lot of names right at the top of their puzzle: EDIE McClurg, GENA Rowlands, Mos DEF, Dr. PHIL, OONA (O'Neill) Chaplin, and Burt LAHR [...of "The Wizard of Oz"] (the score of which was written by our pal Yip Harburg with Harold Arlen). But they also give us several fill combinations that can be nicely tied together in a sub-theme kinda way. For instance, there's a [Quaint exclamation] for EGAD, and also a [Quaintly polite response], YES'M. Also quaint to my ear (and totally charming), is [Have a crush on, to a Brit], for FANCY. In baseball, if you [Overthrow, for one], you commit an ERROR. An error of a different sort is a TYPO, as demonstrated in [Thsi clue has one]. If it's more than that—a word that's wrong or a sentence that can be cut, say—the offending text may be marked DELE [Editor's "take it out"].

[Do-___ ] RE-MI is the way many a singer will warm up, tune up the voice. TUNE-UPS, though are also [Car maintenance requirements]. Benzoyl peroxide treats ACNE; ACME is [Wile E. Coyote's favorite catalogue company. IGNITES is a word for [Sets ablaze]; when something's [Going out, as a fire], it's DYING.

I liked the misdirection of [Stuff in blue books?] for SMUT. And you thought this was a reference to your college EXAM booklet. Then again, maybe the stuff in your exam books was smut... (You know—for your History of Porn class...) STIR is but one of the many great words for another great word, [Hoosegow]. Clink, pokey, cooler, coop, jug, can. Colorful language for a place where "grey" is the new everything, and the only kind of companionship might be a CHIA PET...

Alan Arbesfeld's' New York Times crossword

Okay! I'm only 12 hours behind schedule. Why, I'll be caught up in no time. Maybe.

Eh, I don't love this puzzle. The theme entries are five phrases that begin with the words TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN, which apparently is a a line associated with WOODY /ALLEN. First, I do not like Woody Allen. Second, never would've thought he was connected to that line. Two non-theme answers are stacked with the first and last theme answers and are the same length, which is not optimal. And then there are a zillion two-word answers littering the grid, along with a three-word, 9-letter phrase clued as a partial. Two short answers (TONY, EDIE Falco) are tied to THE SOPRANOS, but why? The THE is part of the Woody Allen theme. It's distracting to shift the focus to The Sopranos.

The glut of two-word answers includes SIC 'EM crossing SIT ON and IN AWE, SAW IN, partial Q AS, I'LL DRY, and I LIED. None is particularly juicy.

As for the theme entries themselves, I like THE SOPRANOS, MONEY LAUNDERING, and AND I LOVE HER, but TAKE PLACE is flat and RUN SCARED, well, I don't like it as much as those others.

I'm short on time this morning too, so...moving on!

Donna Levin's Los Angeles Times crossword

Lovely early-week puzzle from Donna. DRIVE at 68A ties everything together: The four longest Across answers begin with "___ drive" words. FLASH IN THE PAN, SEX EDUCATION, LINE ITEM VETO, and TEST BAN TREATY point towards the lively "drive" phrases flash drive (the itty bitty USB gadget that's so handy for transporting files, and that holds a gazillion more bytes than diskettes ever did), sex drive (hey-o!), line drive (baseball term), and test drive (we fell in love with our 9.5-year-old VW on the test drive when it took a sharp curve fast).

Highlights in the fill include ROUND TRIP ([There and back]), MOON RIVER ([Song with the lyric "I'm crossing you in style"]), VISHNU ([Four-armed Hindu deity]), and HIPSTER ([cool cat]). Overall, smooth stuff.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "Home Slice"

Matt's theme is bread puns:

• 17A. [Bready agreement?] is YOU GOT THAT WHITE ("you got that right"). Except there's no inherent "agreement" in YOU GOT THAT WHITE. That's merely identifying that the white bread has been gotten. How about clueing this as a [Wonder lover's question?]?
• 32A. [Bready folk singing group?] is PITA, PAUL AND MARY (Peter, Paul and Mary). Cute.
• 42A. [Bready magic act?] clues SIEGFRIED AND RYE (Siegfriend and Roy). Cute.
• 60A. [Bready phrase after a double take?] is HEY, WHEAT A MINUTE ('hey, wait a minute"). This one has no surface sense at all. Boo!


• TAX DOLLARS are clued via [They're "at work" when talking about public projects]. I am most appreciative of the economic stimulus road resurfacing. My car is grateful for smooth roads replacing horribly pot-holed streets.
• ERIC BLAIR is the [Author who went by the pseudonym George Orwell].
• THE PLAYER is that [1992 Robert Altman satire of Hollywood execs].
• GRUB and [Vittles] have the same variety of slangy vibe to them.

Mystery TV answer #1 (because my son's too old for preschooler TV shows): LAN is clued ["Ni Hao, Kai-___" (Nickelodeon cartoon)]. I know the "local area network" sort of LAN, but needed every crossing for this one.

Mystery TV answer #2 (but inferrable): "I PIE" is the ["Good Eats" episode title where Alton Brown discusses lemon meringue]. I like Alton Brown's goofy-yet-practical sensibility.