April 08, 2007

Monday, 4/9

NYS 3:50
CS 3:20
NYT 2:46
LAT tba

(updated at 9:55 a.m. Monday—and sheesh, why hasn't anyone commented by afternoon? Today's Sun puzzle was conversation-worthy...)

We spent the day at my sister's house today. Why my brother-in-law was listening to WGN Radio while watching sports on HDTV, I don't know. But fortuitously, we caught an interview with Tyler Hinman. Not to slam Liane Hansen (who talked to Tyler during last Sunday's NPR show) or anything, but I liked the local interview better. More interesting questions, and time for Tyler to be a bit more expansive in his answers.

The Monday NYT crossword was constructed by J.K. Hummel. The theme is straightforward, as you'd expect on a Monday: six kinds of GREEN, such as OLIVE (BRANCH) and PEA (SOUP), appear at the beginning of the theme entries. There are two intersecting pairs of theme entries, too.


Ah, now that's what I like in an early-week crossword, the sort of clues and answers in John Calvin Williams' Sun puzzle, "Group Hugs." The theme is fairly basic but tight—how many other theme-length phrases can you think of that contain a run of three O's in a row? (The title reflects O = hug, X = kiss.) The theme's got an extra fillip with SHOO OFF crossing the long central theme entry. It's not the theme I love, though—it's the sparkling fill: HAZMAT, BALDING, PAT CONROY, OZARKS, KIDDO, SPLAT, TWITCH, AM/FM, PANINI, and other Scrabbly words like Q-TIP and SEXY. Not to mention the entertaining clues: ["You ___ Thing" (1975 hit for Hot Chocolate)] for SEXY (you probably remember this song from The Full Monty), [Going places?] for JOHNS, ["Act your ___, not your shoe size!"] for AGE, [Two in a row?] for OARS, AMY clued with reference to Amy Sedaris, and the straightforward [HIV causes it] for AIDS. This one's going in my folder of favorite early-week crosswords.

Harvey Estes' CrosSynergy puzzle, "Loose Ends," assembles a group of loose PARTS (32-Across, in the middle), phrases that start with "loose" things: loose-FITTING (ROOM), looseLEAF (THROUGH), loose CHANGE (KEYS), and loose CANNON (FIRE). Tons of 6- to 8-letter entries in the fill, such as MOHANDAS, PLAY TIME, PUSSYCAT, and ZEPHYRS, that usually get little play in crosswords. The grid could pass for themeless—just 70 words, lots of white space. That's Harvey's (much appreciated)trademark these days—plenty of longer words and lower word counts in easier themed puzzles. Just because it's Monday, it doesn't mean we want a surfeit of 3-, 4-, and 5-letter words with clues we've seen hundreds of times by now.