June 27, 2007

Thursday, 6/28

NYS 8:10
LAT 3:50
NYT 3:37
CS 3:25

(updated at 10:40 a.m. Thursday)

Ooh! Happy crossword day! No, it's not a holiday—I'm just suffused with cruciverbal delight.

Joseph Crowley is the name atop the Thursday NYT crossword, and it's not a name I recognize though Google tells me there's a congressman by that name. Crossword-constructing debut? If so, congrats and thank you! It's a lovely puzzle, with four delicious colorful foods, deftly stacked in pairs of 15-letter entries (with only a couple crossing 3-letter words per pair) bound together thematically by RAINBOW / SHERBET spanning the center of the grid. (If you're counting, that's an impressive 74 theme squares.) Add fill like YUPPIE, BJORK, DWEEB, and REVERSI, and the puzzle gets more fun. Favorite clues: [Possible cause of heavy breathing] for SMOG; the tongue twister clue for ESAU (so much more fun than biblical references!); and [Kind of place] for ONES. Best of all, the theme entries actually taste good. MIXED GREEN SALAD? Yes, please. Balsamic vinaigrette on the side. ORANGE MARMALADE? On toast. (Made from Seville oranges, a.k.a. bigarades.) BLUEBERRY MUFFIN? With lots of crunchy sugar crystals on top. RED BEANS AND RICE? I'll pass that one over to my husband, and he will devour it. My cousin will scarf down the RAINBOW SHERBET.

In the Sun, Byron Walden's written a Themeless Thursday puzzle, and either I'm off my stride, or it's Weekend Warrior level rather than Thursday. (How tough did you think it was?) Speaking of Seville oranges, here's ARRIBA clued as [Seville shout]. I mangled the upper left corner by misattributing "Give me liberty or give me death!" to Thomas Paine instead of Patrick HENRY, but eventually I worked my way back to that section and straightened things out. In the mini-theme, someone has A DEVIL OF A TIME and thus gets in at SOME UNGODLY HOUR—I suspect it's THE STUD at 1-Across. BEA ARTHUR and MEL TORME lead a pack of AMERICANS, ART LOVERS all, in storming the ASTRODOME. On the way, they stopped at a REST AREA to PIG OUT on Taco Bell GORDITAs. Why? I don't know. You'd have to ask BYRON (["For truth is always strange; stranger than fiction" penner]). Favorite clues: [Golf partner] for PASSAT; [Shots from downtown] for TREYS (meaning three-point shots in basketball); [Person whose address is moving] for ORATOR; [Antlered ungulate] and [Humming ungulate] for DEER and ALPACA, respectively; [Gadget label?] for INSPECTOR Gadget; [Halts] as a noun (MORATORIA) next to [Yanks] as a noun (AMERICANS); and the two stocking stuffers, COAL and TOE.


Harvey Estes' "Ring Leaders" puzzle from CrosSynergy has five theme entries starting with kinds of rings. A DIAMOND (JIM) ring is lovely, of course (provided it's not a conflict diamond). I bought a CLASS (ACT) ring in high school because my sister did—what was I thinking? Totally not worth it. KEY (LARGO) ring, indispensable, of course. ONION (SKIN) ring, blech. Do not care for onions as anything more significant than a small ingredient. The MOOD (INDIGO) ring, on the other hand—I have an abiding nostalgia for mood rings.

Jeff Armstrong's LA Times puzzle has four theme entries tied together by a fifth, FRONT ENDS—the other four begin with OFFICE, RUNNER, DOOR, and MONEY, which can all follow FRONT. Is this puzzle by the Jeff A who comments at this blog, or is that a different Jeff A? This crossword, like Harvey's puzzle above, has corners filled with 7-letter words and phrases, and that generally livens things up. (And both of these puzzles contain EGO TRIP and DAY ONE!) Favorite clue: [Stick in the cupboard, maybe] hints at a verb or the dreaded oleo, but it's a PRETZEL. It would be an awfully sad cupboard if it had just a single pretzel, though.