December 09, 2007

Monday, 12/10

NYS 3:31
CS 2:59
NYT 2:44
LAT 2:32

Lynn Lempel remains one of my favorite Monday constructors. The theme in her latest New York Times crossword isn't so fancy, but there were six theme entries and I believe they exhausted the possibilities for their category—words that start with S or an S consonant cluster followed by ING. There's SINGSONG with just the S, along with SPRING ROLL, SWING VOTE, STRING BEAN, STINGRAY, and SLINGSHOT. In English, there is no such thing as sming, say, or spling or sking or scring, so Lynn's covered all the bases. I do take issue with the clue for DOWRY. To me, [Bride's bounty] sounds like a windfall for the bride, rather than something more like a bounty hunter's price for securing the bride. Fill and clues I liked: ["Jeopardy!" whiz Jennings] for KEN (his blog, which has a trivia slant, is quite engaging); TWEEN ([11- or 12-year-old]); a hair PERM; ["Oh, I see"] for GOT IT; and GREGG clued as [One of the Allman Brothers] rather than a steno's shorthand method.

Vic Fleming's New York Sun puzzle is called "Monday Best," and it is indeed all dressed up for work in a THREE-PIECE SUIT. The other theme entries, all clued straightforwardly, are CLOSE TO THE VEST, ANTS IN ONE'S PANTS, and FULL METAL JACKET. I like how the silliness of the second one butts up against the dead-seriousness of the Kubrick war movie. Also, (two 15s + two 14s) ÷ (a 15×16 grid) = rather a lot of theme density for a Monday puzzle. Highlights: Don CHEADLE, who is always welcome in crosswords and in film; the repeated [Place of bliss] clue for both NIRVANA and EDEN; the repeated [Russian river] clue for NEVA and URAL; the [Wife of Zeus] and [Mother of Zeus] combo, the anagrammatic HERA and RHEA; and the verb BCC, or [Include in an e-mail without other recipients knowing].


Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy creation, "Coming Apart," includes three phrases ending with words that mean "busting up." One of the longer non-theme entries mystified me. [Paddy wagon] clued BLACK MARIA, which I swear is not a term I've ever heard. (Black Jesus, yes. Maria? No.) Here's the Wikipedia story of the history of these vehicles and their names.

Gail Grabowski's LA Times crossword also goes the three-synonyms route, with PACKED (A SUITCASE), FILLED (THE BILL), and JAMMED (THE COPIER). In the fill, OLD FLAME appears opposite EMBRACES. Not any more!