February 11, 2007

Monday, 2/12

NYS 3:26
CS 3:25
LAT 3:02
NYT 2:28

(post updated at 10:20 a.m. Monday)

Happy Lincoln's Birthday! Usually I'm not too thrilled about a day off school (quality time with the kid cuts into blog-related leisure activities, y'know), but when it's cold out, the sidewalks may be snowy, and I've got a head cold? I treasure the chance to sleep in and stay warm.

It's always a treat to see Lynn Lempel's byline. Her Monday NYT sparkles with an unusually large number of longer fill entries (17 of 'em are 6 to 8 letters long) and a swingin' theme. Donna Summer's LAST DANCE holds the key to the other four theme entries, phrases that happen to end with a string of letters that are a dance. DON SHULA dances the HULA, the HORA is in the PLETHORA, the fearsome CONGER EEL hides a REEL, and the lively JIG ends THINGAMAJIG. (Extra bonus points for including a word as fun as THINGAMAJIG.)

It took some study to discern the theme in Gary Steinmehl's Sun crossword, "Completely Complete." Eventually it dawned on me that the first three themers ended with LOCK, STOCK, and BARREL, while the three on the bottom began with HOOK, LINE, and SINKER. So really, it's two small variations on one theme in a single puzzle. Cool interlocking, too—the majority of the letters in the four theme entries in the middle are linked to another theme entry by the vertical crossing entries. I'm always pleased to see a Poe reference, as in "The CASK of Amontillado" (it was pointed out elsewhere that the Sunday NYT's heart rebus omitted "The Tell-Tale Heart").

P.S. It's Freedom to Marry Week—so it's apt that the NYT puzzle happens to include [Not straight]/GAY.


Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle uses a "Monday Kickoff" to morph phrases by added MON at the beginning. ARCHENEMY -> MONARCH ENEMY, K-RATION -> MONK RATION, GOOSENECK -> MONGOOSE NECK, and KEY CLUB -> MONKEY CLUB. I think a theme like that has the potential to be clunky, but I liked how it came out. I also enjoyed the long vertical fill entries FIG NEWTON and NEVER EVER.