(updated at 9:20 a.m. Wednesday)
Apparently Alex Boisvert didn't use up all of his world-capital puns last Wednesday, as he's back with another Sun puzzle, "Capital Pun-ishment: The Sequel." This batch of five geographic two-fers and three-fers includes TAIPEI BELGRADE (type A bell grade), ANKARA KHARTOUM (anchor a car tomb), HANOI DAKAR TUNIS (annoy the cartoonist), DAMASCUS DUBLIN (the mask is doublin'), and MOSCOW BUDAPEST (ma's cow booed a pest). Did anyone go afoul of the baseball clue, [Part of a ballplayer's uniform]? I opted for CUP until I read the crossing clue and had to change it to CAP. Favorite clues: [Like civil union members] for GAY and [Good name for an investment advisor] for IRA. I also like the word SPECK because of that fast-food commercial where the guy feels put out because his rental car is a "Speck" and his hotel room is cramped, and ordering the Bloated-Size portion of fries and Coke makes him feel better; I can't help but think of the fictional Speck whenever I walk past a Yaris or Aveo. Here is a photo of a rather ungainly-looking MARMOT.
When I got the first theme answer in Jim Page's NYT crossword, PARISH HOUSE, I groaned. Surely not another in the recent series of embedded HHO/H2O puzzles! No, this one's got embedded SHHs shushing throughout. ROSH HASHANA (I prefer the "Hoshanah" spelling variant because I've seen it more) and ASHHEAP, I like. POLISH HAMS seems like an iffy entry, but look how many Polish hams there are (that link's from the same company that has a catchy head cheese write-up). FRESH HERBS are useful, but is the phrase crossword-worthy? I'm not sure. I do like the non-theme entries BEHEMOTHS, Robert MITCHUM, and MUZAK. I did not like the clue [Jumper alternative] for SET SHOT because dangit, basketball was the last thing on my mind.
I made Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy puzzle harder than it needed to be, guessing that the second theme entry was CHEVY CHASE SCENE rather than CHEVY CHASE CHASE. Had I realized the second word was repeated in each theme entry, this could've fallen a lot more swiftly.
Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword has a fresher theme in that the theme entries all start with variously spelled words/names that rhyme with "fresher": Fran DRESCHER, a THRESHER SHARK, PRESSURE, and CHESHIRE. Hey, you know that not-always-followed guideline about not repeated bits of fill? In this puzzle, there's a *AN crossing MARKSMAN, so following that rule means the crossing won't be MAN. Which is a shame, because *AN's other crossing is A*USE. If I have to choose between ABUSE and AMUSE in my entertainment, I'm picking AMUSE even if it doubles up the MAN (which could be clued in reference to the Isle of Man).
April 17, 2007