The New York Times crossword by Robert Zimmerman (presumably not Bob Dylan reverting to his birth name) started out with an MT grid, but it was not too hard to fill it in. The theme entries substitute two letters for the first word, with the letters pronounced individually. The theme clues signify that with a "briefly" tag, which seems a little off, as "essay contest" is not called an SA CONTEST for short—but I haven't got a better idea for how to clue those. The other theme entries are (easy) EZ ON THE EYES, (icy) IC STREETS, (kewpie) QP DOLLS, and (seedy) CD CHARACTER. That last one gave me pause, because "shady character" is vastly more in-the-language than "seedy character." Moving along to the fill: The clue [Thumbscrew ridges] meant nothing to me, not even after filling in KNURLS. Apparently it doesn't mean the torture variety of thumbscrew but rather a hardware thumb screw with knurling for a better grip. [Dom or earl] refused to hand over TITLE for a while—Dom DeLuise came to mind more than Dom the title. Speaking of Catholic titles, surprising to see STS clued as [Holy ones: Abbr.] rather than streets when [Sault ___ Marie Canals] is also there for STE. Maybe the LITANIES ([Prayer wheel inscriptions]) and the SYNOD require a lot of handlers? Love MINIONS and ANARCHY, and OVERKILL (raise your hand if you tried OVERDOSE first)—though it'd be groovy to clue OVERKILL as [Alternative rock's Urge ___].
Is Lee Glickstein's New York Sun puzzle, "Be More Specific," pretty damned tough for a Wednesday, or am I just tired? It took me a good long while to peg the theme correctly—first I thought some sort of vowel sound was getting swapped out for THE, but now I see that each theme entry changes the indefinite article A to the definite article THE. So tearjerker turns into TETHER JERKER, ear muffs into ETHER MUFFS, Tia Maria liqueur into TITHE MARIA (but not TITHE MTHERITHE), and Liar, Liar into LITHER, LITHER. Mmm, not so into this theme. But I always appreciate the word VEXES (as well as the other X, Z, and J words here), and MWAH ([Sound of a kiss]) is fun. Favorite clues: [Highest-ranking suit] for CEO and [Russ Cargill's org. in "The Simpsons Movie"] for EPA ("A twisted tail, a thousand eyes, trapped forever, epa! Epa!").
Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's LA Times crossword makes a theme out of phrases that happen to end in musical genres, clued as if the phrase's meaning involved music. [Music that goes on forever], then, is ETERNAL SOUL, and [Music performed while facing away from the audience] is BACK COUNTRY. The clue that misled me the longest was [Cell feature]. ****BAR, hmm, is there another name for the signal bars on a cell phone? Actually, Stella and Bruce were thinking jail cell, and the feature was an IRON BAR. (I wonder if there are any cells with such small windows or lax security that they have but a single iron bar.) ONE EAR is the strangest crossword answer I've seen in some time. [Part of a human profile]? How about [Part of Van Gogh's profile] instead? (Here's Evander Holyfield in the Van Gogh role.)
Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy crossword is called "Try, Try Again!"—as in the adage, "If at first you don't succeed..." The theme entries begin with the words PRACTICE, MAKES, and PERFECT, which combine into another ADAGE (26-Down).
October 09, 2007