There's a new link in the "Crossword Links" listing in the sidebar. Ephraim's Crossword Puzzle Pointers offers a different spin on Will Johnston's Puzzle Pointers concept. Ephraim Vishniac's page makes it a little easier to download the Across Lite files for recent crosswords (a week's worth for daily puzzles, three weeks' worth for weekly ones). It'll save me a few mouse clicks on the weekend when I'm scrounging for Sunday puzzles. If you want access to calendar pages with months' worth of crosswords, Will's page remains the best source. I'll continue using Will's Sun calendar pages, for sure. I usually grab the CrosSynergy and LA Times puzzles from Cruciverb.com (you need to be logged into Cruciverb to get the LAT in Across Lite). The Times puzzle comes straight from the Times. The Onion and Tausig puzzles arrive via e-mail from Ben Tausig's Google Groups thing. The extra Friday and Sunday crosswords, I might start grabbing from Ephraim's page.
Which is not to say that anyone should suddenly begin doing far more crosswords than they've been doing, but if you have some down time over the holidays and Santa doesn't bring you crossword books, there are puzzles galore online.
Drat! The New York Times applet chewed up 30 seconds and spit 'em out while I looked for that typo. I was lost in an '80s Men at Work/"Who Can It Be Now" reverie (YouTube is evil if you hate to fritter away time watching videos that were popular during your salad days) while typing in the WHO CAN IT BE answer, and didn't see that the B was an N. (D'oh!) So. The theme. The five theme entries are phrases (not all questions) that begin with "wh" interrogatives: WHO CAN IT BE, WHAT MATTERS, WHERE DOES IT HURT, WHEN PIGS FLY, and the super-cheesy [Discounter's pitch], WHY PAY MORE? I like this theme. I like the fill, too. "IS IT SAFE?" means ["Can I come out now?"], but it's also a famous line from the '76 movie, Marathon Man. There's a JUNKYARD for auto parts. Small apartments called STUDIOS sit right on top of TO RENT. The Hostess HOHO snack cake is there—but those corporate bastards won't take the beef fat out of the cream filling, so Twinkies, Ho Hos, and Ding Dongs aren't vegetarian. Mmm, nothing says chocolaty goodness like animal fat! Where was I? Crossword, yes. 'FESS UP is also a lovely entry.
Randall Hartman's New York Sun theme was hiding in plain sight, but the clues were easy enough to let me fill in everything without having a clue what was going on in the theme entries. The "S&L Deposits" are the letters S and L added to the first and second words in the original phrases. Inner ear turns into SINNER LEAR, making King Lear a bad boy. Watch over becomes a SWATCH LOVER. (If you love Swatch brand watches, there's even a club for you. Lights out works out to [Disrespects a boor?], or SLIGHTS LOUT. With all the ogling that goes on in crosswords, it's good to slight the lout sometimes. Alley-oop becomes SALLEY LOOP, referencing John Salley, whose name I know because he once played for the Chicago Bulls. In addition to a great theme, this crossword's got two Xs and three Zs, and showy long fill like "YOU GO, GIRL!" and DARTH VADER. Props for cluing LOLA with reference to "Copacabana."
Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy puzzle is "A Tribute to Deborah Kerr," who apparently died two months ago without sending me a memo. The movie title (one of four) at 44-Across is not one I've ever heard of. Fans of old movies, this one's for you.
The LA Times puzzle is by Donna Levin, who e-mailed me after my post about the Brooklyn guide for ACPT attendees to rave about the banana-chocolate-macaroon pastry at Jacques Torres. So if you manage to procure one of those and you like it, think fondly of Donna when you do her crosswords. The theme in this one is aviation, with one pair of theme entries ending with PILOT and FLIGHT and the other starting with PLANE and RUNWAY.
Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "Shifty Eyes," has some rapid I MOVEMENT: Each theme entry has an I that's relocated itself. The OJ trial becomes [Path to the "real killer"?], or THE OJ TRAIL. Rapper Lil' Romeo mutates into Shakespeare's ILL ROMEO. Dial soap becomes surreal DALI SOAP, which has got to be tough to keep from flopping over the edge of the soap dish. A global icon is minted into a GLOBAL COIN. Favorite entries in the fill: UNQUOTE and EXHUMES in the Scrabbly corner, and NHL TEAM opposite them.
Francis Heaney's Onion A.V. Club crossword pulls its theme out of drug slang. The clue for 17-Across combines an opera title (Einstein on the Beach) with a heroin reference to generate a HORSE OPERA, which is another name for a Western movie. The CRACK LAWYER refers to crack cocaine. BENNY HILL relates to the amphetamine benzedrine. The [trip to a laundromat] is an LSD trip, hence ACID WASHING. Deadheads are notoriously fond of pot, so a Grateful Dead decal (quite popular among that crowd) is a POT STICKER. Peter Tork of the MONKEES flunked out of my college; the campus game room was named after him. Favorite entries: DIET COKE and, after that carbonation, BURP GUN. I also love the LUNGFISH at the Shedd Aquarium. You can watch it for a long time without seeing it surface for air, though it'll move around and make you think it's about to go up. Total tease, that.
December 17, 2007