(updated at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday—and if you like Bob Klahn's tough clues, don't miss his CrosSynergy puzzle today)
My new mantra is "Give me crosswords that make me laugh." The Tuesday New York Sun puzzle, Matt Ginsberg's "How Many ___ Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?", fulfills that. You can probably guess more or less how the theme works based on the title, but the funny parts are in the clues and theme answers. If you like your crosswords to amuse you but usually solve only the New York Times puzzle, check out this Sun crossword.
Turning away from the day's crosswords for a moment, there's an intriguing statement on page 99 of Stan Newman's book, Cruciverbalism. "I can't put a number on it, but a healthy portion of crossword puzzles published in American are created by constructors who are 'guests of the state,' as the saying goes." I know a bunch of constructors, and have seen others in public at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. There are some who haven't gone to the tournament in recent years, but they may occasionally pop up at various blogs or LiveJournals, on the Cruciverb-L constructors' mailing list, or at the NYT crossword forum. Still others never seem to show up anywhere. So maybe they're shy and not prone to communicating online...or maybe they're in prison. Who knows? (Only the editors who send them their paychecks.)
Back to the puzzles: Matt Ginsberg's Sun crossword gives you the punchline to seven light bulb jokes (none of them offensive) in the clues, and the answers fill in the blank in the title of the puzzle. I was delighted to see that several of the jokes were new to me, upping the entertainment level. Kudos to Ginsberg for getting plenty of great fill into a grid with seven theme answers. Crosswords usually spell the LYCHEE as "LITCHI," despite most Chinese restaurants opting for the LYCHEE spelling—and LYCHEE's the version in this puzzle. O. HENRY abuts MR. ZIP in one delicious corner, and then there are the Xs in LOUIS XI and XENA. My favorite clue, aside from the theme entries: [Take credit?] for OWE.
Ray Fontenot's NYT crossword gives us a batch of time-of-day movies: TEQUILA SUNRISE, RED SKY AT MORNING, DOG DAY AFTERNOON, and AFTER THE SUNSET. Too bad a central 8-letter entry won't work in a grid with an odd number of rows, because HIGH NOON would have been a terrific addition. (Yes, it includes the same NOON as AFTERNOON, but AFTER THE SUNSET's in there, so not a problem.) Between this being a typical easy Tuesday puzzle without a ton to discuss, enjoying a plate of Indian food, and getting drawn into the reality show Science of Love,, I'll sign off for the evening now.
Today's CrosSynergy crossword is by Bob Klahn. "Boxxxing Match" has theme entries that begin with the letters TIC, TAC, and TOE (hence the three Xs in the puzzle's title). I reckon there were about 20 clues that required mental flexibility to interpret, and numerous pairs of linked clues that used the same word or similar phrasing. For example, [Dada daddy] (meaning ARP) next to [Beefy baby] (CALF). And [Snake in the sea grass] for EEL followed by [Tiny stake in the grass?] for TEE. I like Klahn's way of toughening up even the shortest and commonest words.
Easy LA Times puzzle from Jennifer Nutt, with a theme of three types of people (e.g., SPACE CADET) who need to PAY ATTENTION. I think this is one of the first times I've seen DIY in the fill of a crossword, and maybe the first in a mainstream newspaper. The clue is [Tinkerer's initials] and it stands for "do it yourself." I had a discussion with someone a few months ago about whether the entry was acceptable for mainstream crosswords—there's a cable TV DIY channel among other uses of the shorthand term, so I think it's become broad enough to be fair game for a daily puzzle. Agree or not?
June 25, 2007