Paula Gamache's Thursday New York Times puzzle felt almost Wednesday-easy to me, although it's not as if I caught onto the theme all that quickly. I'd never heard of [Historian William H. ___, author of "The Rise of the West"], MCNEILL, but once you've got ***EILL, not much else fits. Delighted to see the clue for IPANEMA, [Beach adjacent to Copacabana], because this video that Rex tipped me off to, has really livened up my week. And no, that doesn't mean I'm an OLD FOGY ([One who's late to adopt the latest]). The theme entries all have a HEART OF STONE, in that STONE spans two words in each of them (e.g., BRET EASTON ELLIS).
Will Nediger constructed the New York Sun "Themeless Thursday," and it's super-Scrabbly. Zs all over, plus a Q and an X. Lots of fresh entries, like Mazda's ZOOM ZOOM, '50s game show QUIZ KIDS (...never heard of it), ZOYSIA grass crossing SANTA YNEZ at the crazy Y, DRUM SET ([Moon rock pieces?] refers to Keith Moon, the late Who drummer who was only 32 when he died, I learned last night from a documentary on cable—but he looked closer to 50. Drugs!), JAI ALAI in its two-word splendor (another of those -or words I like but forgot about when writing the last post) rather than its crossword-stale partial incarnation. Now, ELDERS OF ZION, clued as [Fabricated group with "Protocols"]—yeesh, I could do without that in my crossword puzzle. Do the anti-Semitic white supremacists need the free publicity? The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights/anti–hate group organization, reported that Wal-mart had to be bullied into not selling Protocols just a few years ago. Reason #187 not to patronize Wal-mart...
David Kahn's LA Times crossword has three SPANISH and three CHINESE entries (phrases that start with words that can follow those nationality terms). Too bad 6-Across was a theme entry, because with W***UNIT, I really wanted it to be WHODUNIT, which it is not. And I read [Costar of Felicity] as [Costar of "Felicity"], and KERI Russell fit nicely—except it's Felicity Huffman's current Desperate Housewives costar, TERI Hatcher, with three of the same letters. Favorite clue: [Met tragedy, maybe?] for OPERA.
Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy puzzle, "A Little Competition," has a theme I didn't notice until after finishing. The five theme entries end with synonyms for competition: MATCH, CONTEST, RACE, etc., used in non-sporting contexts.
November 07, 2007