Andrea Michaels' New York Times crossword has got a straight-up "what the h*ck" change-the-vowel theme, with HACKYSACK, a comedian's HECKLER, HICKORY-SMOKED ham, painter David HOCKNEY, and that movie nobody saw, I ♥ HUCKABEES. I like the theme, but find myself with little to say about the rest of the puzzle. (Such is Monday, eh?) I do like the double hit of Asian cuisine with BOK choy and a WOK...that's A-OK! And you've got to like BRAIN and LAPSE sitting directly opposite one another in the grid.
Dave Sullivan's responsible (well, along with editor Peter Gordon) for the New York Sun crossword, "iPod Shuffle." The theme entries are five phrases in which a scrambled IPOD appears in the midsection. There's PYRAMID POWER hooey, a POP IDOL, SECOND OPINIONS, ADIPOSE, and the [Butterfly, e.g.], LEPIDOPTERAN. Favorite clue: [Fine dodgers] for SCOFFLAWS, which is completely straightforward and yet sounded like it wanted to mislead me.
Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy puzzle, "On the Starting Line," groups phrases starting with READY (AND WILLING), SET (A GOOD EXAMPLE), and GO (DOWN IN HISTORY). The three also share an air of positive achievement. Favorite entries: OPEN STOCK china, YEA BIG, BOWLS OVER, JOCKEYING, and B-GIRL clued as [Female hip-hop dancer] rather than the antiquated meaning.
The LA Times crossword by Rich Norris is credited to his alter ego, Lila Cherry. The theme entries end with (ISLAND) HOPPER, (STONE) SKIPPER, and (PUDDLE) JUMPER. Good fill: TAX-EXEMPT with its kooky XEXE middle, BOOB TUBES, a TAILPIPE and an AIR RIFLE, BALD EAGLE and RAN UP A TAB (an improvement on fill-in-the-blank answer ATAB), and the vigor of a PUSHUP and an END RUN. Is the clue for IPOD correct, though? It says [MP3 player], and I thought iPods played a different file format. Wikipedia says iPods can play many different kinds of files, including MP3s, so the clue is spot on.
November 25, 2007