June 24, 2007

Monday, 6/25

NYS 3:34
CS 3:17
LAT 3:13
NYT 2:51

(updated at 10 a.m. Monday)

We spent the afternoon at Chicago's annual Gay Pride Parade. It's the neighborhood's biggest event, drawing a few hundred thousand spectators each year. There are floats or groups marching for the local TV and radio stations, assorted politicians, church groups, PFLAG (which got sustained applause from the spectators), liquor companies, gay bars, banks, theater troupes, hospitals, and more. Of course, what will show up on the local news are clips of the more outrageously clad marchers, and not the church groups or the gays and lesbians representing the bank they work for. The guy on the unicycle wearing a G-string...well, he was a little too cheeky for broadcast TV. Oddest thing: The conventionally attractive/hot young women handing out TAG body spray, which is marketed to straight men as a way to attract women. Is Gillette not aware of the demographics of a Gay Pride Parade? Hire a couple hot guys to hand out those fragrance samples, and you'll get a lot more attention for your cheapo fragrance.

Is there any link between the parade and crosswords? Well, let's see. Hasn't STOLI been in the crossword before? And GAY, and SAME-SEX? If GLBT contained a few vowels, it might get some play in the grid, but with those four consonants? Fat chance.

Monday's NYT crossword was constructed by Kurt Mengel and Jan-Michele Gianette. The constructors are feeling generous, so they've given us two choices for each theme entry—though you have to jot down both choices to finish each theme entry (e.g., PASS/FAIL CLASS). And...you know what? It's a Monday puzzle, and there's not all that much to say about it. Solid crossword, maybe a little bit tougher than most Monday NYTs.

The Sun puzzle is David Kahn's "Grand Film Openings." The quartet sextet [Ed.: Thanks to Stephen for catching the two vertical theme entries, BEN-HUR and TOP HAT] of theme entries are movie titles that begin with words that can follow BIG (40-Across—both the word and a movie in its own right). Thus, the Reagan movie BROTHER RAT yields Big Brother; HOUSE OF WAX, the big house; TIME BANDITS, big time; and Chris Rock's HEAD OF STATE gets a big head. I am surprised to see COLA clued as [Pez flavor]—I can only find the crappier fruit flavors of Pez. In Europe a decade ago, I found raspberry Pez. Hey, look! The Pez site sells cola and mint flavors of Pez candy in addition to fruit. But no grape—and somehow, my kid invariably offers me grape Pez. Grape Pez sucks.


Rich Norris's CrosSynergy crossword, "Awakenings," features four phrases that start with words that can follow COME TO (51-Down). I'm generally not a fan of this sort of theme—it helps if the theme's tightened up a little, as above with the Sun puzzle that includes six movies rather than six random phrases, or more ambitious, as with more or longer theme entries. I like the phrases that result here, though—COME TO / BLOWS, COME TO / MIND, COME TO / PASS, and COME TO / LIGHT make a nice grouping. COME TO PAPA would have been fun, but it would have been out of keeping with the sort of phrases that Rich included here.

The LA Times puzzle by Gary Steinmehl is livened up with 16 6-letter answers and a pair of 8s, surrounding five theme entries. The theme entries are easy to fill in since the beginning and end of each are the same: POKES SLOWPOKES and FILLS LANDFILLS, for example.