December 06, 2006

Thursday, 12/7

NYS 5:31
LAT 3:57
NYT 3:47
CS 3:15

Kelly Clark's NYT puzzle and Joy M. Andrews' Sun crossword play around in different ways. I found the NYT offering to be much easier, but then, I'd just been practicing backwards spelling when putting my kid to bed (telling him his backwards name is Nimajneb). So easy-enough crossings combined with DRENS in a [Dummy up?] clue put me in mind of MORTIMER SNERD, traveling upwards. Interestingly, the four theme entries are presented as four consecutive Down clues, [___ up?] or [___ down?] depending on which way the entry runs. To liven things up, there's SEX smack-dab in the center of the grid (we'll overlook GOUT and ODOR here). Fortunately, I'd seen ORACH and ASHCAN in crosswords before, or else that bottom center section might've slaughtered me. You know what I learned in college that helped in this puzzle? My freshman-year RA was from HAVRE, Montana. I'll bet a lot of solvers penciled in BUTTE, which is a Montana town with a Frenchy name, because who's ever heard of HAVRE, Montana? Last comment: This is one of those crosswords in which the editor doesn't stick to the standard limit of 38 black squares.

The Sun puzzle, "Possessive People," has a 15x16 grid, also not the standard. The five theme entries follow the pattern of [famous name]'s [noun], and when you re-parse the entry to plunk that S at the beginning of the noun, you get a last-name-first famous person. Or not so famous—I didn't know the name Sloan Wilson lurking within WILSON'S LOAN (he was a writer; a couple of his books became films). The others are a Stooge (HOWARD'S HEMP—when will Shemp's hairdo make a comeback?), comedian (CAESAR'S ID), director (LEE'S PIKE), and tennis player (SMITH'S TAN). Great theme, plus some great fill—CROP TOP, NEOCONS. Oh, I had to look up Grateful Dead bassist Phil LESH; my tie-dye credentials are iffy.