(post updated at 12:45 p.m. Tuesday)
Allan E. Parrish's NYT puzzle contains a ton of names (and that's not really a spoiler because the clues make it obvious that you need to enter a first or last name). Now, when a puzzle expects the solver to be able to summon up 15 or more names, that's generally a puzzle I like, but that drives some people batty with rage. (I hope you aren't among them, because life's too short to get mad at a crossword.) Not only did the people in this puzzle please me, but I also liked the theme: the title IT'S ELECTRIC ties together the lively trio of TYRONE POWER, CHARLES IN CHARGE (holy crap, season 1 is available on DVD! I never watched the show—honest!—but back when Scott Baio was on Happy Days and his cousin[?] Jimmy Baio was on Soap, man, that was my Tiger Beat era.), and GRAPEFRUIT JUICE. I like the incongruity of those theme entries. Fabulous bits of fill throughout—NEON / DEION Sanders, SWAIN, "Oh, my ACHING back," the au courant TED Haggard, DAWG, PORSCHE, HI-C, PUNSTER, and the wealthy RUPERT Murdoch and IMELDA Marcos holding court in the bottom of the grid.
Seth A. Abel's Sun puzzle, "Where It's At," is where IT becomes AT. I liked the theme entries, all nonexistent stuff clued in a fairly straightforward way. There's a BANANA SPLAT and a HATCHING POST, the twice-changed SWATCH HAT, and the PRO-FAT CENTER and WICKED WATCH. Favorite clue/fill tidbits: [Golden alternative] for LAB (and if you like the doggie pictures in those links, here's the PULI and TOY Papillon), OUR GANG, [Shot for the stars?] for BOTOX, [Song and dance, perhaps] for LIE, and Manolo BLAHNIKS.
Tyler Hinman's Onion A.V. Club crossword has no title with a hint to the theme, but I think it has to do with...cards. The long entries end with DOUBLE, STAND, SPLIT, and HIT. I think it's blackjack, but I don't know where DOUBLE fits into that scheme. Favorite clues/fill: AIR KISS, [Famous annual navigator] for CLAUS, SAYS AH, PLINTHS (which I like because it was one of those oddball gimmes and helped me out, and because it's six-sevenths consonants), EBONICS, [Like some ties] for LOUD, PLAYS TO WIN (here comes Stamford!), [Kids' TV host actually surnamed Rowe] for NYE (what, "Bill Rowe, Science Pro" wasn't deemed catchy enough?), and HEROICS.
Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "Why I Switched," features a Y-to-I switch in the theme entries (e.g., syntax error becomes SIN TAX ERROR). I liked the theme, fill, and clues, but nothing in particular is leaping out at me right now. Perhaps my mind is aware that I need to get a move on with my day. I just saw "Vote" jotted on my calendar—oh yeah, I'm supposed to vote in the city election today. Will do that on the way to picking up my son from school, which is easy enough given that my polling place is his school. Must run!
February 26, 2007