(post updated at 7:40 a.m. Tuesday)
The themes in both Paula Gamache's NYT crossword and Alan Arbesfeld's Sun puzzle eluded me for the longest time. Paula's puzzle had easy clues, at least, so I could finish it and then devote thought to figuring out the theme. The Sun crossword, "Liable to Change," was one of those where you kinda need to make sense out of the theme in order to proceed. Eventually I found my way to the bottom of the grid and figured out one theme entry, which helped a lot.
The NYT theme was summed up by IT'S A DEAL—the seven other theme entries, all 8 letters long, began with words that could be followed by DEAL (e.g., RAW ONION -> raw deal). I like the layout of the theme entries, eight 8-letter entries in criss-crossing pairs. After last week's discussions about the word hoo-ha in Eric Berlin's puzzle, it was hilarious that the answer to [Commotions] was HOO-HAS. I hereby move that women begin using synonyms of the euphemism in lieu of the anatomical term. "I've got an itchy commotion. I think it's yeast." "After that hootenanny in my to-do, I need a nap." "Much ado...about nothing." Who's with me?
The Sun's "Liable to Change" title means LI is able to change, and that letter pair is reversed to IL. (Illinois beats Long Island.) Thus, [Apple records?] are FRUIT FILES (changed from "fruit flies"). Kudos to the constructor and/or editor for bits like Ruth REICHL with her implausible-looking consonant string; BLOG clued as [Instapundit, e.g.]; two Z's in the opening corner; and POSH clued as [Wife of Becks].
Timothy L. Meaker's LA Times puzzle features four paired anagrams of the same word, with workable clues. There are two other common-word anagrams—REAPS may well have been on reserve as a substitute for PARES in 17-Across if the fill demanded it, and the other word, RAPES, has no place in a crossword puzzle. I like this theme better than the kind in which only the last word in each theme entry gets involved in the anagram action. Better still are the ones where an entire phrase is jumbled up, though we wouldn't see that on a Tuesday, would we?
March 05, 2007