Before we get to the Monday crosswords, let me turn your attention to the new Playbill crossword by Peter Gordon. (Go to page 50, click the printer icon that's the fifth from the right, and print page 50 to solve the puzzle.) This one's called "Play by Play," and it's the first (I think) of what will be a monthly feature. It took me about as long to solve as the typical Wednesday Sun crossword. If you love the theater, you'll enjoy this crossword. I don't live in New York and I pay little attention to Broadway, so a non-theme clue like [Open of Urinetown] means nothing to me, and the theater-show mashup theme was a bit afield of what I relish.
Harvey Estes' New York Times crossword has a clean and simple theme with Monday-easy clues and fill. It also has a low word count for a themed puzzle—72 answers, by my count. The maximum for a themed NYT crossword is 78, and 72 is the limit for a themeless puzzle, so this puzzle has some longer-than-expected fill. There's TIGER WOODS and a MONOLITH, a RAINSTORM and a NEON LIGHT, a DIRT BIKE and LARGE PRINT. Plain language and fairly straightforward clues for all six of these long fill entries, but they're as brisk as the December air. The theme entries are also crisp and lively—STRONG LANGUAGE, MIGHTY APHRODITE and Jeopardy! category POTENT POTABLES all begin with synonyms, and none is dull or stale. The toughest clue in the whole puzzle is probably [Brit's service discharge] for DEMOB. Did anyone else start out by filling in 1-Down, [Self-pitying cry], as ALAS, then rethink it and change it to AH ME, only to discover from the crossings that it's ALAS after all? No? Nobody?
Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy crossword, "Inner Circles," inserts a RING into each theme entry. "Si, señor" becomes a SIRING SENOR, [Hombre who acts like a stud?]. The theme didn't do much for me, but the fill's laden with good longish answers—PALAVER, CRUSTACEAN, EL GRECO, the GOBI DESERT, KARATE KID, LAST-GASP, LIBIDOS, and more. Zippy clues, as always when the byline reads "By Bob Klahn."
The New York Sun puzzle by Peter Gordon (a.k.a. his anagram, Ogden Porter) is called "Creature Feature." The rock-solid theme is two-word rhymes in which the second word's a creature. In this 15x16 grid, there are two 11s, a pair of 6s (one cross-referenced answer), and a pair of 3s (one cross-referenced answer) going down, and two 8s and a pair of 7s (one cross-referenced answer) going across. We get CARE BEAR, CULTURE / VULTURE, GRAPE APE, FAT / CAT, CHUNKY / MONKEY, REGAL BEAGLE, and SPRUCE GOOSE. One might whinge a bit that there are two non-thematic 8-letter entries stacked with the theme 8s, but a FRUIT CUP and LASER TAG both rock.
Anyone else able to get the Across Lite version of today's LA Times crossword yet?
Jack McInturff's Monday LA Times puzzle became available rather late in the day. The theme entries are unrelated phrases that begin with the words READY, AIM, and FIRE. The fill seemed old-school—John Wayne's HONDO, CREAMS clued as [Cosmetic applications] (anyone out there applying cosmetic creams? I know I'm not), Gene KRUPA, Pee Wee REESE, TEAHOUSE from a 1953 play, OLEO on bread, and LPs played on HIFIS? This crossword just might be retired and living in VERO Beach.
December 02, 2007