I just wrote this in the comments over at Rex's blog, but wanted to plop it into a post here, too.
Sunday's ELEARNING entry and the occasional non-EMAIL, non-EFILE E-prefixed words, along with a mention of the word educe got me thinking about common crossword answers that start with E but can be redefined as E-prefixed words. The resulting faux crossword entries are too short to make a decent theme, so I'll share it here instead. EERIE? That's e-Erie, some sort of crazy online lake or tribe. e-Duce is Mussolini for the MySpace era. e-Ra, the virtual sun god. e-mend, fix a typo in your blog post. e-den, the room where you lounge with your internet-connected devices. e-RN, a nurse available online. Hell, why not e-DNA? (No offense to Ms. Krabappel from The Simpsons.) The dreaded e-pee—write your own clue. e-lie, not an uncommon thing on the web. e-no, a match.com rejection. Cook an epicurious.com recipe with your e-wok. Forget Abba Eban—have an e-ban on his name appearing in online crosswords. Send an e-pic in JPEG format. I could go on, but I won't.
The New York Sun puzzle is by Jeffrey Harris. The theme entries are clued with fish names that could define the phrases in the grid. An [ANGELFISH], for example, is a HOLY MACKEREL. My fave was LANCE BASS for [SPEARFISH]. The most ICKY answer here was OLEO OIL, a [Margarine ingredient] (crossing PECK AT, even though PICK AT feels like a much more natural phrase meaning [Nibble unenthusiastically]). On the up side, there's OKEY-DOKE, three answers that are slangy words for prison (STIR, PEN, COOP), ZEPHYRS, PASSWORD, and some other longish answers. Naked pandering in the clue for YOU: [The best-looking crossword solver in the world?]. Never heard of COE, ["Tyrell" novelist Booth]—here's the book's website. Youth fiction with an inner-city Bronx slant, by a woman named Coe Booth.
The New York Times puzzle was authored by Ray Fontenot. First, I must whine: Not fair to use the applet (which isn't free) and have no access while solving to what appears in print and in the Across Lite Notepad. After I finished solving the puzzle in the applet, I downloaded the Across Lite file to see that the Notepad says [DIAGONAL: What you might do eventually to make up for lost time]. Now, the clues were easy enough that I barely noticed the theme clues at all. Too many easy Down clues, I guess. The theme entries are GET LOST, FIND A GAS STATION, and BUY A MAP going across, and TAKE THE SHORTCUT along the NW-to-SW diagonal. Granted, it's tough to get fill to work with three-way cross-checking through the diagonal center of the grid, but the fill didn't excite me. I was fully prepared to grumble about "OH, ME" ([Words of woe]) until I Googled it and was reminded that it's also the title of a Meat Puppets song covered by Nirvana in their MTV Unplugged concert, which is one of my favorite albums and which is now available on DVD for the first time and I've ordered for my husband as a Christmas present. I had a soft spot for ENID, the [Sooner city], because at Absolut Trivia tonight, our biggest point-getter was knowing when Oklahoma, the Sooner State, was admitted to the union. I thought it was around 1905 (we needed to be within 5 years), and no sooner (ha!) did I mention that I thought the state recently celebrated its centennial then Tyler Hinman remembered an Oklahoma centennial crossword theme he'd solved this fall. As if Tyler needed any reason to continue doing Timothy Parker's Universal crossword online...sigh. Although we wagered (and won) 25 points for our 1907 answer and won tonight's round of trivia, alas, we lost the monthly prize by about 15 points.
Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle, "RV Hookups," spotlights phrases whose words meet up at an R and V, like COMPUTER VIRUS. What I liked: GORE crossing the themer POPULAR VOTE; rocker JOAN crossing her last name, JETT; two more Js in HAJJ; COPENHAGEN, [Home of The Little Mermaid statue]; and [Walk, like a Pacer] for TRAVEL on the basketball court. Good to see OWEN clued with the Owen who's currently the hottest, career-wise: Clive Owen. This kind of theme, though, is a bit of a snooze. I tend to like such themes better if they include a longer batch of embedded letters or a word, or if the letters in question are Scrabbly ones like X or Z.
Robert Doll's LA Times crossword was hiding its theme from me until I reached the tie-together entry (maybe I'm just slow this morning). ARTHUR DENT from Hitchhiker's Guide, a good FIRST IMPRESSION, and evil OLD SCRATCH can all be fixed at the BODY SHOP. As can a WINGDING—and I hadn't noticed that WINGDING was part of the theme at first, probably because it and BODY SHOP are each stacked with another 8-letter entry that doesn't appear to be part of the theme...though DREAM CAR sort of ties in, I don't see how OVERTAKE would. New name I learned: ELDON [Industries, one-time maker of slot cars]; the only Eldon I know is Murphy Brown's painter. Favorite misreading of a clue: [Frozen desert chain] with a B, must be GOBI. Er, no. It's dessert, and TCBY.
November 27, 2007