(post updated at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, and at noon and 2:50 p.m. Sunday)
I wasn't sure if I recognized the name in the byline for the Sunday NYT. So I checked Barry Haldiman's site and looked up my blog post about Mark Feldman's last Sunday puzzle. Well, I'll be darned—his two previous Sunday NYTs were also rebus puzzles. (Note to self: Think rebus the next time his byline appears.) The current puzzle is a pre–Valentine's Day special, "Love Is All Around," with a [HEART] rebus in a jumbo 23x23 grid. Of the 13 pairs of rebus entries, eight involve symmetrically placed long vertical entries, while the other five are shorter and scattered around the grid. There's a lot of interlocking, with some rebus entries crossing other ones in assorted places—for example, DIS[HEART]ENS shares its rebus square with [HEART] OF DARKNESS, but its D crosses DOWN[HEART]EDNESS. So, I like the intricacy of the construction. Favorite clues and answers: [Mary Hartman's TV hometown] for FERNWOOD (when I was about 11, my mom and sister and I watched it on a 13" black-and-white TV each week), GOES DUTCH, and BY JOVE, along with assorted HEARTy phrases. You ought to read the Wikipedia article on SALO, which apparently is a bit like bacon only without all the meat, and is the subject of Ukrainian humor. I'd like each commenter to use the word MATUTINAL (clued as [Of the morning]) in a sentence. Never heard of Ravel's "MENUET Antique"; apparently menuet is a variant of minuet. I didn't know that NIGERIA is [Where nairas are spent]. It looks like there's plenty of difficult or obscure-ish fill, but I think it's offset by the boost solvers get from having a large number of entries that include the word/syllable HEART.
Gasp! Over at the NYT forum, Spencer Thomas posted a link to an illustrated grid. If you play connect-the-dots with the [HEART] rebus squares, you get a big heart! This just might be the cutest Valentine's crossword ever.
If you didn't already do Merl Reagle's puzzle for this weekend, do it. It's got a puzzle-within-a-puzzle aspect as well as a ton of piratical fun.
Patrick Blindauer's LA Times syndicated puzzle was good fun. He took seven Broadway shows and tacked letters onto their final words; thus, [Show about a switchboard ghost?] is PHANTOM OF THE OPERATOR. Good fill (TIDES OVER, PORCUPINE, and my personal favorite, WHOA NELLY) and clever clues, too. My favorite clues included [Place for three men?] for IN A TUB, [Chile powder site?] for ANDES, [Pot for the kitty?] for CATNIP, and [Ginormous] for COLOSSAL.
Paula Gamache's Washington Post puzzle, "Wild at Heart," imagines beastly proclamations of affection, such as a leonine YOU'RE MY PRIDE AND JOY. This crossword threw a couple unfamiliar geographical names at me—LYSTRA, the [Ancient city visited by Paul and Barnabas], and GERA, the [City SSW of Leipzig].
Harvey Estes' CrosSynergy is among the easiest themeless puzzles of late. It has a touch of Valentine thematicity (if that's a word), with LOVE POTION crossing Cupid's ARROWS—though the latter is clued with reference to William Tell rather than Eros.
This week's Across Lite offering from the Boston Globe, Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's "Dream Team," is posted now. Good [Gallimaufry] (OLIO) of dream-related theme entries, easy-peasy cluing, and Scrabbly fill.
February 10, 2007