(updated at 10:55 a.m. Friday)
Pete Mitchell had a New York Sun crossword in May, and I believe his new 70-word themeless puzzle marks his debut in the New York Times. Congrats, Pete! He seems to have a queen thing going on, as that Sun puzzle included Queen Elizabeth's ANNUS HORRIBILIS, and the NYT features GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. Lots of goodies in this puzzle, such as ABE VIGODA starring at 1-Across; BIONIC ([Having some replacement parts?]) evoking the upcoming Bionic Woman TV series; ARM IN ARM, which reminds me of the Remy Charlip book by that name that offered me a wealth of wordplay when I was a kid; more than a dozen phrases, including COME NOW and TIE ONE ON; documentary filmmaker ERROL Morris (his films are always fascinating); and a modicum of Scrabbly action. Favorite clues: [Persian's gift] for NINE LIVES; [Plaster] and [Get plastered] for the adjacent DAUB and TIE ONE ON; [Hammer activator] for PIANO KEY; [Something taken before practicing] for BAR EXAM (I kept parsing that as BARE-something); and [Dough must be squeezed out of them] for MISERS.
Well, the eejits who are setting off fireworks in my neighborhood had the sense to wait until after I'd finished up in the NYT applet before they started detonating. Alas, several small explosions accompanied Patrick Berry's 66-word Sun Weekend Warrior, and I can't believe my kid is sleeping through the noise. (It's putting me on edge—I can't imagine coping with the far more real dangers experienced by people living in Iraq.) The single most perplexing entry here was [In the afternoon, in British military slang] for PIP EMMA; scroll way down here for the explanation of why PIP EMMA means p.m. (further up that page, we learn that tweezers get their name from the trusty etui!). The single most fabulous entry is OOMPA LOOMPA, intersecting with both NICOTINE GUM and REMOULADE sauce. And then there's QUEEN ANNE (another QUEEN today) crossing QUEEG—at the E, not the Q. Favorite bits: [King, maybe] for CLUB (in cards); [Snookums] for POOKIE; [Mothers oversee them] for CONVENTS; and [Become fire-proof?] for QUIT.
Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Face Front," groups phrases that start with words that can be preceded by SIDE. An unexciting theme type, yes, but Patrick peps it up with more colorful clues for the theme answers. [Stair master's home?] is a WALK-UP APARTMENT, for example, and [Where push comes to shove?] is LINE OF SCRIMMAGE. Maybe it should be a rule that these themes must get a jolt from clever cluing—I'd like that, in any event. Other highlights: ZAGREB, Croatia, and the clue [Famous Christian?] for SLATER.
Pete Mitchell's byline also appears atop today's LA Times crossword, this time with theme entries that drop an E somewhere. Pete, I liked the fill in your other puzzles better! Though it is fun to contemplate Charles KURALT going HOG-WILD with a case of LABATT beer. The clue for PLASM was unnecessarily out-there: [Suffix with neuro-] gets you neuroplasm, which garners under 1,000 Google hits and which I've never encountered in 18 years in medical editing. Neuroplasm is the first one voted off the PLASM island. Ectoplasm from Ghostbusters and protoplasm will battle it out for the title of top -plasm.
Matt Jones's Jonesin' puzzle is a themeless this week. Hooray! An easy one, but with a ton of zip—pop culture (Rachel MCADAMS, PETER Farrelly, Iggy Pop and the STOOGES...and Murder, She Wrote taking place in MAINE), intersecting Stephen King novels (CARRIE and MISERY), MYSPACE, SMINT brand mints, rings for NIPPLES, South America (CUZCO and CARIOCA) and foods of the tropics (COCONUT and CITRONS). Great clue: [Battle amidst cornfields] for IOWA CAUCUS. Even when I had the IOWA part, I was still mystified.
Mike Shenk constructed the Wall Street Journal crossword under the pseudonym Judith Seretto. In "No-Par Stock," each theme entry has a PAR lopped off the beginning and the resulting phrase is clued. For example, Parade Magazine becomes ADE MAGAZINE, [Periodical for fruit drink makers?]. Tough cluing overall, and plenty of good fill (BUTTER UP, CUT-OFFS, KAWASAKI, ENERGY BAR).
July 05, 2007