The New York Times crossword's by Tom Heilman, and I suspect this is another constructing debut. The theme entries are the BEES knees, with two phrases starting and two ending with apian words. THE AFRICAN QUEEN and the very colloquial GIVE ME A BUZZ offer those sweet-as-honey Zs and a Q, and STING OPERATIONS and HONEY, I'M HOME (which is also a famous line from The Shining, as seen in this speeded-up clip set to "Yakety Sax"). The clue [Private stash] (for CACHE) put me in mind of this Saturday Night Live skit, "You Put Your Weed in It"—and lo and behold, WEED shows up lower down in this crossword (clued as [Work in the garden]).
The New York Sun puzzle is "Final Offer," by Joe Bower. The theme is TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT, so two phrases take on an extra IT and two others lose IT: THE BIG BANDIT ERA and PULPIT FICTION ([Falsehoods from the preacher?]) vs. CENTER OF GRAVY (ha!) and UNEXPECTED VISOR. Joe's from South Dakota, and there are two clues related to that: [Neighbor of S. Dak.] is NEB (Nebraska), and [Part of S. Dak. is in it] is CST. The other half is in the Mountain time zone. "What? Mountains in South Dakota?" you ask. Yes, indeed. My sister's family just vacationed in the state and visited the Black Hills, home of the tallest peaks east of the Rockies (apparently the Appalachians and Adirondacks are no competition). The clue [Singh rival] stumped me until Ernie ELS revealed himself—ah, golfer Vijay Singh.
This week's Onion A.V. Club puzzle is by Deb Amlen. [A possible title for this puzzle] is ANGER MANAGEMENT, but fortunately the Adam Sandler connection ends there. (For some abysmal writing, see the Wikipedia plot summary of the movie.) The other theme entries contain the letter sequence ANGER embedded within them, as in RANGE ROVER and ORANGE RIND. Tons of pop culture, which makes me happy.
Ben Tausig's latest Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword's called "Jam Session," and the theme is a sweet one: four kinds of BERRY, such as STRAW MAN and BLUE MONDAY (the latter being a song title that I know without knowing why). With answers like JUKEBOX, XEROX, and VIOXX, this puzzle's got tons of Scrabbly freshness. Excellent pop culture tidbits, like cluing R. KELLY as [Indicted musician who said: "Osama Bin Laden is the only one who knows what I'm going through"] and SIX as [Blossom's pal]. The Tausigean sass comes from such clues as [One might be erotic] for CAKE (don't follow that link at work) and [Sponge alternative] for the female condom called the FEMIDOM. I hadn't heard of SHAY Haley, [N*E*R*D*'s Haley] or RARA, the [Haitian party music]). Favorite clues: [Field of flowers?] for BOTANY; [Tasty pockets] for RAVIOLI (tonight's dinner!); ["Get ___, you two!"] for A ROOM; [Weight-loss celebrity, familiarly] for JARED from Subway; [Warped Tour sponsor] for VANS (Vans canvas shoes are available for your puzzling pleasure in crossword and maze prints); and [Marlene Dietrich und Angela Merkel] für FRAUEN. Look! Here's the trusty [Aquatic crustacean], the ISOPOD; isopods can be smallish, land-based like the roly-poly, or giant.
The LA Times crossword by John Halverson is about...what is the theme? Let's see. Ah, I see it now. (Took a while.) SEIZE THE DAY, COLLAR STUDS, BUST OF HOMER, and CATCH A FEW Z'S all begin with synonyms for "arrest." My favorite entry: OH ME, OH MY, clued as ["Goodness!"].
Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle has a pun theme. In "The Sty's the Limit," four famous people's first or last names get turned into porcine words. What would it sound like if a pig combined an oink with a pun-induced groan?
August 20, 2007