March 20, 2007

Wednesday, 3/21

CS 4:25
NYS 4:04
NYT 3:33
LAT 2:49

(updated 9 a.m. Wed.)

NY Sun warning: The file I and others downloaded has the answers filled in already. Blur your vision until you've managed to have Across Lite erase the answers. Also, this puzzle has one of those super-long clues that are hard to read in Across Lite. 41-Across reads, "I want you to think of one of your parents...Concentrate now...Create an image in your head...The parent you are thinking of is ___." I know it's a little spoilery to include that up here, but without that clue, it's a different puzzle, and I wish I'd read it before I finished the puzzle. Don't click the link to read more if you don't want the Sun puzzle further spoiled.

So, Jesse Goldberg's Sun creation is called, "A Parent Time," and the twist is that the puzzle will read your mind (as suggested by the quartet of theme answers like TELEPATHY)—for 41-Across, did you think of MOM or DAD? Whichever one you picked, the Down entries that cross it will work, CLINTON/BOBDOLE style. [Glide over a surface] can be either SKIM or SKID, [Trample] is STOMP or STAMP, and [Companion] is MATE or DATE. (Of course, the gimmick doesn't work at all if you chose MUM or POP or PAW.) Smaller highlights are TOYS R US crossing SMUSH, and the [2004 Fox makeover reality show], THE SWAN. Good entry, but terrible show. I daresay it presented a far more harmful view of women than Baywatch ever did. Glad the show isn't on its fourth season by now.

2006 brought us Ethan Friedman's BLACK/WHITE puzzle in the NYT and Patrick Berry's pick-a-grade report card in the Chronicle of Higher Education (it was his, wasn't it?), and now Goldberg's Sun puzzle is the third to use the same gimmick Jeremiah Farrell used in his 1996 NYT. I wonder how many more constructors will find clever ways to apply that trick?

The Wednesday NYT offering is a quote puzzle by Ed Early, with a line by OSCAR / WILDE. I wasn't sure if one of the fill entries, BAD MEN, was truly "in the language," so I Googled "bad men" and got 768,000 hits, including a number of movies, books, and articles that include the phrase in their titles, so I conclude it's fine, if less instantly understood than "bad guys." I'd never heard of the old actor Andy DEVINE, but was intrigued to read that (a) he had a raspy voice and (b) it resulted from a childhood accident with a curtain rod.


Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Fold 'Em," may have an unexciting theme (the words at the end of each theme entry form compound words if FOLD is added to them), but the cluing, fill, and construction are first-class. The central theme entry hooks up with the top and bottom ones via eight longish vertical entries. Those verticals include POOH CORNER, MINIVANS, and POCAHONTAS. Favorite clues: [Hole-in-the-wall gang?] for MICE, [What "will be" will be] for ARE, [Spring summer, initially] for CPA, [Boom or box] for SPAR, [Green stuff] for MOOLA, [Beach type] for NUDE, and [Who's there, in a bit] for FIRST (as in "Who's on first"). Bonus points for citing the Johnny Depp/Martin Landau movie, ED WOOD. I know the MG, but didn't know there was an MGB model of the sportscar. And darn it, that was 1-Across! Got off to a slow start on this one.

Jack McInturff's LA Times crossword has four 15-letter theme entries, plus a 3-letter word that ties them together. Not crazy about the fill (OON, ALTE, both I'M SO and IF SO), but don't mind seeing my name in the grid.