September 16, 2007

Monday, 9/17

NYS 3:24
LAT 2:59
NYT 2:58
CS 2:37

One of the Sunday puzzles featured alphabetical foursomes in the theme entries. Gary Steinmehl serves up a variation on that with "Bespectacled," his New York Sun puzzle. Each of four theme entries contains the letter I (i) four times, and they're tied together by the sound-alike FOUR EYES. The clue for the first one, IF I DID IT, isn't quite right; it says [Unpublished O.J. Simpson book], but the book has been published by the Goldman family whom O.J. owes millions of dollars. The cover design emblazons I DID IT in big red letters, with a barely perceptible IF on the first letter, and the book's subtitle is "Confessions of the Killer." (Edited to add: Peter Gordon doesn't miss a beat, of course. He reports that he corrected the clue to [Controversial O.J. Simpson book], but the online guy didn't update the puzzle.) Favorite entries in the crossword: WELL I'LL BE, DIN-DIN, and RHEINGOLD beer.

Sarah Keller's New York Times crossword features four different [Bell ringer]s, one split into two 4-letter halves. Does anyone like it when 1-Across has a clue like [With 68-Across, a bell ringer]? On a Monday, I like to see an easy 1-Across that gives me the first letters for the first group of Down clues, and dang it, this puzzle fought me on that. Furthermore, it threw a not-so-well-known poet in at 2-Down, [Poet Lindsay] VACHEL. Who is she? Ha! Wikipedia tells me I have that backwards. It's VACHEL Lindsay, the "Prairie Troubador," known for his use of sound in "The Congo." All right, I forgive Sarah Keller for plunking that in an inopportune spot because Lindsay's story is an interesting one. The AVON / LADY is an obvious bell ringer, but CHURCH ___ drew a blank (CHURCH WARDEN), I don't commonly think of PERCUSSIONISTs and bell ringers in the same breath, and BICYCLE RIDER rings hollow (cyclist and bike rider sound more natural to me). Two great criss-crosses in the upper right and lower left corners: ROUND TRIP with YES DEAR and DREAMBOAT with OLD MAID.


Today's LA Times puzzle is credited to Ken Bessette and Nancy Salomon, so I'm guessing Nancy worked with a new constructor on his debut publication. I liked the theme: three BASIC NEEDS, all clued without reference to their commonality. The clues are worded in parallel, though: [Swanson line], [Dockers line], and [Jagger/Richards line] refer to two product lines and a line of song lyrics, FROZEN FOOD, MEN'S CLOTHING, and GIMME SHELTER, with food, clothing, and shelter being BASIC NEEDS. The theme is executed with élan. My favorite clue/entry combo: [One who cleans up after the maid?] for NEAT FREAK. Highlights from the rest of the fill: the idiomatic RAG ON, YEA BIG, and ONE SEC; KAREEM Abdul-Jabbar and LADY DI; and MUMBLE. Well done!

Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy puzzle is selling "End Tables": a dressing table (SALAD DRESSSING), card table (SMART CARD), pool table (MOTOR POOL), and bridge table (COVERED BRIDGE).