Jim Page's New York Times puzzle seems a bit tough for a Wednesday, no? Like turkey kept in the oven a bit too long? What I learned from this crossword is that there's a song called "N.Y.C." in the musical Annie. A rather gnarly thing to hinge a theme on for the non-musical-theater-fans constituency. What I like better than that aspect is the embedding of NYC within the long theme entries, JOHNNYCAKE (you know what? I think this is essentially what IHOP serves me when I order the "corn cake pancakes," which I slather with butter and drizzle with hot maple syrup), TONY CURTIS, racehorse FUNNYCIDE, and...PONY CARTS? Must Google: It's a smaller version of a horse cart, it seems. Now, I sort of figured it had to be PONY CARTS, but that corner was mighty resistant to filling. I wanted [Fit for duty] to be ONE-A, the ["Superman II" villainess] wasn't coming to mind, [Not discounted] was meaning nothing, and I wanted ARRS for [Itinerary details]. It was actually ABLE crossing ETAS in the corner, with evil URSA (what, no "celestial bear" today?), LIST price, pale AQUA, and historical fiction BURR. Though I may grumble at the musical tincture of the theme and the PONY CARTS, I did generally like the fill: Get high on CANNABIS! (And not in the Onion puzzle, either.) The cinematic SETPIECE. Scrabbly CLOROX, BEIJING (my family has Beijing Olympics t-shirts brought back from China by my in-laws this summer. Mmm, lead.), and MESS KIT.
Frank Virzi's New York Sun puzzle contains a fairly dry theme, "Split Ends." Each theme entry starts and ends with a matching set of 3-letter sequences, each of which appears in the closest corner of the grid. So TONI BRAXTON is near TON, and the HOWARD STERN SHOW is near HOW. Throughout the grid, there's Scrabbly fill, heavy on the names. Does everyone else know JAMAAL [Magloire of the Nets], or am I in the dark by myself here?
Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "A Good Day for X-Changes," exchanges an X for a CKS in each theme entry. Timothy Meaker's LA Times crossword defines four OO-OO things in 15-letter entries: [Goo goo], [Yoo-hoo], [Voodoo], and [Boo Boo].
December 25, 2007