(updated at 11 a.m. Tuesday)
Is this constructor Jennifer Nutt's debut in the NYT (and/or elsewhere)? If so, congrats! I like the theme and its execution. Like Patrick Blindauer's Sun crossword, there are about 60 theme squares, which is on the meaty side. The NYT theme is FISHTAILS, with five other entries that end with ___fish: SCAREDY-CAT(fish), GRAPE JELLY(fish), etc. Yes, technically STARfish are supposed to be called "sea stars," but if it's good enough for SpongeBob, it's good enough for me. Surely I'm not the only one who has drei German writers occupying the same spot of mental real estate> ["Die Lorelei" poet] is HEINE, but HESSE and RILKE came to mind first. I'd rather have seen a clue like [Lead the meeting] for CHAIR—[Drastic sentence, with "the"] is particularly gruesome.
The theme (also well executed) in Patrick's Sun puzzle, "Take Five," is what's missing: the five vowels (in order) yoinked out of ROCKET L(a)UNCH, CURIOUS G(e)ORGE, ELECTRONIC F(i)LING, FREEZING P(o)INT, and SHOWER FA(u)CET. The studio of Peter Gordon was out-Gordoned with the fresh clue for OREO, [Source of the title material in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "The White Stuff"], since Henry Hook used that clue approach earlier this month for the Boston Globe. If I needed to express [Words of horror], I'm not sure OH NO would cut it. LUKE is clued with reference to General Hospital's Luke and Laura, which hark back to my junior-high soap-opera addiction; much better than a New Testament clue!
David Cromer's LA Times crossword uses [Man of steel?] as a clue for ROBOT; the same clue in Monday's NYT crossword hinted at CARNEGIE! The clue for AHEAD OF ONE'S TIME is [Visionary, and a hint to what each word in 18- and 55-Across and 3- and 33-Down is]: thus, DOUBLE DOWN signals both double time and downtime. Turns out that the theme in last week's Onion A.V. Club puzzle by Matt Gaffney also worked on both words in each theme entry, too (e.g., LUXURY FLAT —> both luxury tax and flat tax(. The clues didn't spell out the involvement of both words in each theme entry, and I dimly failed to notice, thinking the added TAXES applied to only the first word. Anyone else totally miss the double aspect in Matt's puzzle? (Thanks to commenter chiwhistler for pointing out my error last week.)
Ben Tausig's Onion A.V. Club puzzle for this week took me a while because I am old and out of touch (sigh) and was slow to grasp that the theme was based on Friendster.com. The theme entries are phrases in which a -STER is split off from the word it belongs to, as in SEAMONSTER, [Social networking site for Jamaican sailors?]: "seaman" with the stereotypical Jamaican accent would be "seamon," tack on a -STER, and you've got a SEA MONSTER with a different word break. (Nice touch to have REGGAETON abutting this entry.) Favorite clues and entries: GIRL POWER (anyone else slow themselves down by putting in GRRL POWER first? And let's keep the Spice Girls out of girl power discussions.); [Bloody, to some] for DIRTY WORD; [Corp. VIPs] leading to CFOS rather than the usual CEOS; PIL for a post-Clash, post–Sex Pistols band I should've known (it parses asPiL, or Public Image Ltd.); and ["Whenever..."] for NO RUSH and ["Whatevs..."] for I DON'T CARE and YEH ("Yeh"?).
Ben Tausig's Chicago Reader/Ink Well crossword seemed even tougher than his Onion puzzle. The theme was elusive; if you "see" ___, where the blank's filled by certain entries in this puzzle, that becomes the clue for another entry, misleadingly designed to look like standard cross-reference clues. Thus, [It may be checkered] is PAST; [See 54-Across] means [See past], which is OVERLOOK. (Who constructed that NYT or Sun puzzle with a similarly vexatious theme a few months ago?) More music clues here: ["The Genius" alias] is GZA (who's a week younger than me!); [Rotten band, initially?] is PIL, which I wouldn't have known if I hadn't just Googled it after doing the puzzle blogged about in the previous paragraph). AGING is clued as [Cheese process]; as luck would have it, earlier this morning I heard about cheddarvision.tv, where you can watch cheddar age. Tough clues, Scrabbly and fresh fill; I'm out of time for blogging now.
April 16, 2007