(updated at 10:55 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday)
If you're like me and you wish every book had not only a table of contents but also a finely crafted index, and you have a copy of How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, then feel free to click on this picture to enlarge it, print it out (it should print out in the right size even though it's huge on the screen, but not crystal-clear), and tuck it in the front of your book. (Thanks to Harris for the technical assistance. Unless it doesn't work, of course.)
I may be taking a short vacation and skipping blogging Monday and Tuesday nights, with Al Sanders and John Farmer filling in for me. However, my son's come down with an ill-timed fever, so we may not be going anywhere tomorrow after all. We'll have to reassess his status Monday morning.
The Monday New York Times puzzle is by Andrew Ries. His name is familiar to me—if this is the same Andrew Ries whose name I've seen during my years of editing pulmonary medicine papers and a crossword constructing debut, then congratulations to Dr. Ries. If it's a different guy but still a debut, then congratulations to Mr. Ries. If it's not a debut, then hey, I liked your puzzle, sir. The theme is fairly beefy for a Monday, with four long answers ending with SUN, STAR, POST, and TIMES, all of which can be a DAILY (5-Across) PAPER (72-Across).The fill contains a couple Xs and a Q for extra SPICE. However, what on earth is SEXY doing clued as [Like a Playmate of the Month]? Not everyone finds PhotoShopping and silicone to be sexy. How about a little equal access, e.g., [Like Brangelina]? If you don't like Brad, you might like Angelina. Today's old-school crossword fill: EWER, EDA LeShan, IVOR Novello, AGATE clued as a [Playing marble] (Does anyone still play marbles? Is anyone unfamiliar with the quartz variety called agate?), and the crossword direction ESE (not to be confused with the slang esé).
The kid tossed and turned feverishly for hours—in Mom and Dad's bed. Ben awoke refreshed, but his folks are feeling plumb tuckered out. Sure, it's nothing compared with the sleep deprivation attendant on caring for a newborn, but we've grown soft since Ben's baby days and need our sleep.
Hooray! Another CrosSynergy crossword from Bob Klahn. In "Heart Association," the theme entries start with kinds of hearts: ARTIFICIAL, HEAVY, PURPLE, and BROKEN. As I'd expect from Klahn, many terrific clues: [They may get hot under the collar] for NAPES and [It holds its head up] for NECK; [What the Saints come marching in on?] for ARTIFICIAL TURF; [They're barely brown] for ECRUS (a good clue can redeem a lame word); [Result of many a union grievance?] for BROKEN MARRIAGE; [River whose name is Celtic for "river"] for AVON (did you know that? I didn't); [Prepare a dotted line, perhaps] for PERFORATE; and [Joint chief?] for WARDEN. Usually a theme like this would include straightforward clues for the theme entries, but here, two are tricky question-marked clues. EFILE (used here) and e-mail may be the only e- terms I hear people use. Other crosswords recently have given us the EDATE, EZINE, EMAG, ETAIL, and ENOTE, which I don't use (nor do I e-use them). What e-words do you use?
The theme in Fred Jackson III's LA Times puzzle is hard to label. Three-word phrases in which words 1 and 3 start with D and word 2 is short? He includes DULL AS DISHWATER, DEAR OLD DAD, DIME A DOZEN, and DOLLARS TO DONUTS. Dollars to donuts, I'll bet most dads wouldn't like to be tagged as dull or a dime a dozen—not that the crossword is thus slandering them or anything. AFROS is clued as [Big hairdos]; lately, I've been noticing more AFRO clues that reference the hairstyle itself rather than its purported outdatedness. Fros may have vanished in the '90s, but they're back now to a degree.
Jeremy Horwitz's New York Sun puzzle, "Mercury Records," features three songs I've never heard of ("COLD TURKEY," "COOL JERK," and "WARM IT UP") and one for which I have hardcore junior-high nostalgia. Foreigner's "HOT BLOODED" has dreadful lyrics, but hey, it fits the temperature/song continuum. (And no, Ben's fever did not evoke those lyrics because his fever maxed out at 102.9°.) Several standout clues: I like [Post-alpha bits?] for BETAS because it's clever and because I loved-loved-loved Alpha-Bits oaty orthographical breakfast cereal goodness when I was a kid. [It might be filled with pot smoke] is a fun mislead for KILN. The COFFEE BEAN is [Part of the morning grind?]. The Biblical-sounding ["Exodus" scribe] clues novelist Leon URIS. [Nickel and dime] means the COINS and not the adjective or verb. TALL can be defined as [Like Magic?] Johnson. Favorite fill: PB AND J, PAY PHONE, and the words containing those 10 instances of X, Z, J, or K.
August 12, 2007