The Tuesday New York Times puzzle comes from the mind of Alan Arbesfeld. Four theme entries begin with THINGS (that are) DRAWN. I.e., the curtain in CURTAIN CALL. The things that are drawn—a curtain, blood, a gun, and a bath—are all drawn in different manners, and none at all like a picture being drawn. Good longer fill lurking about, too—BOBBY KNIGHT, for one, and I FORGOT.
Sarah Keller's New York Sun puzzle, "Film Flam," flip-flops a pair of letters in each of four movie titles and reclues them accordingly. A Star Is Born loses Streisand and becomes a [Winter Palace baby announcement?], A TSAR IS BORN. Fun wordplay action in the theme! There are a dozen 6- to 8-letter answers in the non-themed fill, and uncommon letters galore (two X's and two Z's, a Q and a J, and three K's). I'm not familiar with the [California Congresswoman Lofgren], first name ZOE—nice to have a clueable alternative to Zoe Caldwell, whose name I know from crosswords but honestly, I don't know who she is or what she's done.
Francis Heaney's Onion A.V. Club crossword has a theme that works a lot like Sarah Keller's: Rather than two letters switching spots, an initial F moves to the end of the first word in each theme entry. A free radical goes Greenpeaceful as a REEF RADICAL. Far From Heaven (great movie, by the way—an old-school melodrama for the present decade) becomes a dog's ouija board message, ARF FROM HEAVEN. My favorite of the five theme entries here is ATF TUESDAY. Favorite clue: [Studs of note] for the legendary Studs TERKEL.
Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy outing, "Inner Piece," stashes a GUN (41-Down) in each of the three theme entries. Favorite bits: Austin Powers' "OH, BEHAVE!" for pop-culture fun; trusty ol' Walter CRONKITE; and the CCC at 1-Across atop OOO.
In the LA Times crossword, Jack McInturff groups four things that something follow GO TO (61-Down) at the front of the theme entries. Things can go to waste (WASTEBASKET) or seed (SEED CATALOGUE). A person can go to pieces (PIECES OF EIGHT). And someone can be a go-to guy (GUY LOMBARDO). I like the non-themed 10-letter entries that criss-cross in the corners: OUTSMARTED and AMATEURISH, ENGLISH LIT and EXHAUSTIVE.
Ben Tausig's Chicago Reader/Ink Well crossword, "Costume Crisis," conjures up some half-assed Halloween costumes an uncreative person might come up with. Combine a broom and a book and call yourself a BRAINY WITCH, or pair Birkenstock sandals with a bedsheet and be an EARTHY GHOST. I like most of the fill, but cannot abide this one: KLEIG, clued as [Movie set light: Var.]. Just because a lot of people don't know how to spell Klieg light doesn't make the misspelling a valid word. (Although I might entertain myself by making a crossword filled with misspellings like "recieve"...) The light is named after the Kliegl brothers, so really, even the correct spelling is a misspelling. I'm gonna call 'em Kliegl lights in my head from now on.
October 22, 2007