I liked Patrick Berry's Second Sunday puzzle for this weekend, "Partners." (His variety crosswords are one of the reasons I subscribe to Games and Games World of Puzzles—I shamelessly skip the pages I'm not interested in.) I will confess that I have stared at the words in the top shaded row for some time now and even though I know the first letter and the letter count, nothing's coming to mind that fits. Maybe tomorrow my brain will function better. For now, hey, I have an excuse. I'm sick. And did you know that a five-day course of antibiotics doesn't make you all better within hours of the first dose? It's true. Sad but true.
I'm not sure where Eric Berlin and Will Shortz are going with the title of the Sunday NYT. "Thinking Green"—is that ecological or a lead-in to St. Patrick's Day? Either way, the theme relies on cross-referencing five "green" things and their descriptions. The five things are scattered throughout the grid asymmetrically, and the definitions are each 20 or 21 letters long: e.g., green CHEESE is WHAT THE MOON ISN'T MADE OF. Good theme; I like it. In the fill, I love SLURPEE, CAPITAL I ([Frst person indicator]), LOW-GRADE (like my fever, which has asked me to convey to Messrs. Berlin and Shortz that it is hardly [Inferior]), O ROMEO, and the juxtaposition of HOLY SEE and PAPER HAT (so close to PAPAL HAT!). I wonder how many solvers out there will be Googling that tricky crossing between 10-Across and 11-Down: the ["Concord Hymn" writer's initials] are RWE for Ralph Waldo Emerson (I don't know that title, though—wonder if a clue like [19th century American essayist's initials] would be easier?), and the [Early Chinese dynasty] is WEI (Wikipedia tells me the Wei dynasty unified northern China in the year 439. I know what you're thinking: No way! And I rebut, Wei!). Very little pop culture in this crossword, so presumably those who complain about an excess of pop culture in the NYT puzzle will be pleased. I'm pleased with it too, but I do find that contemporary stuff livens up crosswords. So, this isn't much of a post, but I'm out of it this evening. Please, y'all feel free to talk amongst yourselves in more detail. (And yes, you'll need to read that sentence with both a Southern accent and whatever accent Mike Myers used as the Linda Richman character. Joisey? Brooklyn? Long Island? Surely one of you knows more than Wikipedia.)
The LA Times syndicated puzzle, Doug Peterson's "Target Practice," assembles eight parts of a gun (including a SHELL and BULLET) in the theme entries. The fill entries ARMY and ASSAULTS are not tied to the theme, nor is (go) POSTAL.
Highlight of Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's "O'Puzzle" in the Washington Post: OREO SPEEDWAGON. There was another puzzle in the last year or two that played with OREO (or possibly OLEO) in a theme entry, and that was groovy, too—nice to see those easy filler words stepping up, being used for good rather than evil/expediency. Major nostalgia bonus points for cluing BRETT as ["Match Game" panelist Somers]; she was always my favorite among the panelists.
Another St. Pat's tie-in with Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's Boston Globe puzzle, "Two-Part Harmonies," featuring eight symmetrically slotted halves of four song titles from 109-Across, EIRE. "IT'S A LONG WAY / TO TIPPERARY" was the only title that was familiar to me, making for a few could-be-deadly crossings. We don't often see Egyptian god AKER or the Zoroastrian sacred texts AVESTA, both of which crossed theme entries, or [Dragster driver Joe] AMATO, which crossed AVESTA. (I think we usually get Across Lite versions of 2-week-old Globe puzzles, but this one's Irish theme makes me wonder if it's what's in the Boston paper today.)
March 10, 2007