March 03, 2007

Sunday, 3/4

BG 8:45
LAT 8:30
NYT 8:11
CS 4:15
WaPo—file not found; anyone have this in Across Lite?

(post updated at 11 a.m. Sunday)

One of the most fun parts of working on the book (How irksome is it that the Amazon page still lists "New York Times" as the author instead of me? Moderately so.) was choosing 10 NYT crosswords I like for each day of the week (except for Friday and Saturday, five puzzles apiece) and writing a few solving tips for each. One of the Sunday puzzles I chose was Frank Longo's February 4, 2001, crossword, which has a theme strikingly similar to this Sunday's NYT by Randolph Ross. It is a good theme, and one with a slew of possibilities, so perhaps it isn't surprising to see a remake. (And it's gotta be better than, say, a remake of The Planet of the Apes.)

In both the Ross and Longo puzzles, the clue is just a word (preceded and followed by ellipses and asterisked in the Ross, in all caps in the Longo), and the answer relates to where the word is found in the dictionary, using mainly prepositional phrases such as UNDER OATH for [*...oatmeal...]. Ross used the RANDOM HOUSE UNABRIDGED, whereas Longo's puzzle bore the title, "Where in Webster's?" Aside from the theme, which is kinda fun, there's some lively fill: DAS BOOT crossing BRALESS; EAR-TO-EAR is [Broad, in a way], like a grin; LOU RAWLS (about whom [Sinatra said he had "the silkiest chops in the singing game]), and DOOFUS. I also like the sound of WIDGEON; did you know there was an airplane named after this duck? (Whoops—had an unfortunate adjacent-key typo there at first!)

If you enjoyed the theme and wish someone would make a game out of it, here are the theme clues and incomplete entries from the 2001 Longo crossword.

[Spaetzle] ON TOP OF ___ (9)
[House] AFTER ___ (5)
[Grouchy] ABOVE ___ (6)
[Ordinal] FOLLOWING ___ (6)
[Sealing wax] BELOW ___ (3,5)
[Disdain] UNDER ___ (10)
[Timbrel] AHEAD OF ___ (4)
[Lone wolf] BEFORE ___ (4)
[Mess] PRECEDING ___ (7)


Henry Hook's Boston Globe puzzle, "A Cross To Bear," inserts an X into seven existing phrases to create new phrases. My favorite of these: [Result of a Rio Grande freeze?], ICED TEXAS. Tons of good 6- to 8-letter fill entries here, too. I liked the theme and spent some time coming up with my own cross-bearing phrases.

[Paroled officer?] (5,5)
[Repairman corps' motto?] (6,3)
[The best spinning toy?] (2-2,3)
[What predatory Santa Claus does?] (2,5,3,4,5,8)

In Lee Glickstein's LA Times–syndicated crossword, "Finishing Schools," a FISH is added to the end of eight phrases and then the FISH are all moved into 128-Across at the bottom of the grid. PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLYFISH is too long for a 21x21 grid, but the PBJ portion fits just fine. But [Seafood sandwich filling?], eww! [Treaty drafts] are PROJETS, apparently. (Henry Hook's Globe puzzle had '30s-'40s baseball player BOBO Newsom, who also may be new to me. Probably have seen that in other crosswords but blocked it out like many other baseball names.) I like the hidden greeting to me. Sure, the clue says [Like fertile soil], but I see a cheery 'Lo, Amy! there.

Rich Norris's themeless CrosSynergy puzzle's got four good 15-letter entries in it. (Hey, P.D.—your namesake river makes an appearance here, clued as [Carolina river that was Foster's original choice for "Way Down Upon the Swanee River"].)