(updated at 10:10 a.m. Sunday)
Fun Sunday crossword from the New York Times! Elayne Cantor and Nancy Salomon pun it up (but not painfully so) in "R-Rated Film Remakes." Lost in America, the gambled-away-the-nest-egg comedy, becomes LUST IN AMERICA. Risky Business, which is about teenage boys operating a brothel out of a suburban house and features a sex scene on the El, is already pretty damned risqué (it was rated R) but becomes RISQUE BUSINESS. Good theme, and an entertaining one to boot. Best non-theme fill: DOMO ARIGATO ("Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto") plus the also-Japanese NAGANO; the other long fill, like HALLUCINATE and SHORE LEAVE and I DON'T CARE and LOST CAUSE and LAID IT ON; doubly Scrabbly SQUEEZES; and a bowl of CHOWDER in a RAT HOLE. Outside of the theme, there aren't too many playful clues. There's [Figures of speech?] for ORATORS, [Lucky ones?] for IRISH, and [It won't run if it's fast] for DYE (I like this one). I'd never heard of the San PEDROS, meaning the San Pedro Mountains of New Mexico. And I think I encountered actor Brian AHERNE in another crossword, but he's not an actor I've ever seen in anything. Children's book illustrator/author ROS Asquith is another known-from-crosswords personage, but her Teenage Worrier series looks funny.
Rich Norris's themeless CrosSynergy puzzle's fairly easy. So was Dave Sullivan's syndicated LA Times crossword, "Rear Wheels," but then again, I solved an earlier incarnation of that puzzle, and the second time's always easier. The theme entries end with car makes, and they're not so obvious. Joel Eisen's Washington Post crossword, "Instant Messaging," contains seven phrases or titles that begin with I'm—fun theme entries. The Post's crossword editor, Fred Piscop, doesn't care for foreign words in the grid, no matter how common. That led to one icky crossing of two 3-letter entries, [Reuther's org.] (CI_) and [Yield fig.] (R_I). Despite the average solver's familiarity with ROI as the French word for king, here it's clued as an abbreviation for "return on investment." Walter Reuther was an important figure in American labor unions, but what I see at Wikipedia seems to say that the CIO wasn't his main gig, and I wouldn't call him a household name. Did not like this crossing, no sir.
Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle, "Back and Forth," clues 15 unrelated theme entries by breaking the words or phrases into parts, one of which also spells something backwards. Thus, SYCAMORE is [Department store (spelled backward) + Pay dirt?], or MACY'S in reverse plus ORE. If you've never tried cryptic crosswords but you enjoy this kind of toying with words, I encourage you to buy Fraser Simpson's 101 Cryptic Crosswords from the New Yorker. Those are essentially entry-level cryptic crosswords, easier and smaller than the ones Will Shortz runs a few times a year as the NYT's second Sunday puzzle.
July 07, 2007