(updated with Jonesin' at 6:10 pm Thursday)
Last year, the Friday Sun crossword that ushered in ACPT weekend was Patrick Blindauer's connect-the-dots star puzzle. If you don't do the Suns ahead of time and you're traveling to Stamford, make sure you take along this Friday's puzzle by Pete Muller. It will be talked about.
Off and on, I'll be talking about the Jonesin' crossword, constructed by Matt Jones and edited by Matt Gaffney. To get this week's, download a PDF of the puzzle on Thursday.
Karen Tracey's NYT crossword struck me as unusual—in that it's a Thursday puzzle with no apparent twist to it. Thursday-level clues plus lively fill enhance a standard theme type: four sternly uttered phrases that mean ["Case closed!"], such as "NOT ANOTHER WORD." Fill highlights include VISHNU crossing VLAD, BEGORRAH!, a DROP SHOT, and Greg LOUGANIS. Favorite clues: [Exhibit extreme anticipation] for DROOL, the combo of [Meat-and-potatoes] for BASIC and [Unlikely steakhouse patron] for VEGAN, and [Dish you might flip over] for OMELET (which a vegan also would steer clear of). This crossword is very bossy, though. Not only are the theme entries rather imperious, but the fill goes on an ego trip with I AM A, I DID, I GOT, and BE ME.
Patrick Berry's Sun Themeless Thursday is an impressive beast, with a quadruple stack of 15-letter entries in the middle bracketed by two more pairs of 15's. Better still, the quad-stack has no 4-letter crossings—just 5's, 6's, and 10's. Now, a crossword like that is likely to include at least a couple answers that you aren't sure you've seen before. For me, those included FONTAL ([From a spring], adjectival form of font/fount), APPLEBY (I read Catch-22 once, in high school...it's been awhile), and SKIBOBS. And somehow I never picked up on what HOLOCRINE GLANDS are (sebaceous glands are holocrine). Favorite clues: [Plastic handle?] for VISA, [Single bonus?] for B SIDE, [Opening in a sweater?] for PORE, [Departments of the interior?] for ROOMS, and [One who's in and out of the office?] for TEMP. I may HAVE A SCREW LOOSE, but I've dropped a copy of this crossword into my "great puzzles" folder for its well-wrought quad-stack.
This week's Jonesin' puzzle by Matt Jones is called "Italian for Beginners," and the theme is a quip (somewhat amusing, as those things go). There's a new actor in the fill, one you should remember because of his crossword-friendly first and last name: Masi OKA. He's a special-effects computer programmer as well as a member of the ensemble cast on NBC's Heroes. Fresh and slangy fills include GET BENT, ["What's up, ___"] DAWG, and CARSICK. Good clue for ELS is clued as [Golfer whose name is often mispronounced]; who can tell me the correct pronunciation? (I'm guessing people say "elz" and it should be "else.") Took me a wee bit too long to grasp that [No. 5 maker] is CHANEL; another brand name is the [1990s Ford], ASPIRE, and CITGO is [Hugo Chavez's favorite gas station] because Citgo buys Venezuelan oil. Plenty of rock music here, with two bands, PANTERA and WEEN, plus Bob SEGER and John BONHAM. (Hey! I've heard of all of them. Francis Heaney's Onion puzzles usually stymie me with bands I don't know.) However, I dispute the clue that suggests people see an ENT for head colds; you'd have to be an extreme hypochondriac to see a specialist for a mere cold.
March 21, 2007