January 06, 2008

Monday, 1/7

CS 4:09
LAT 3:19
NYS 3:11
NYT 2:37

Lynn Lempel's headlining the New York Times crossword two days in a row. (Wait, does this mean there's going to be a full Lempel week? Imagine if a newspaper gave the marquee to a single constructor for an entire week...) There are six theme entries, on the shortish side, supplemented by an impressive ten 7-letter fill entries. The BIG BANG sums up the other five theme entries, which all begin with a clamorous din: CRACK SHOT, CRASH DIET, POP FOUL in baseball, CLAPTRAP, and a BOOMTOWN. (Edited to add: Every one of these theme entries makes for a great entry on its own—perhaps it's the inherent sound effects that makes them so zippy?) Bonus points for including APLOMB, which is a word I love.

In the New York Sun puzzle by "Ogden Porter" (a.k.a. Peter Gordon), there are two 19-letter theme entries and a 15. Mind you, the grid's only 15x15, so the 19s are broken into symmetrical chunks. The title, "A Few Choice Words," reflects the "[preposition] Y OR [same preposition] Z" format, as in FOR BETTER / OR FOR WORSE, BY HOOK OR BY CROOK, and COME RAIN OR / COME SHINE. The lower right corner made me smile twice—first it was ["___ Fly Now" (#1 hit of 1977)] for GONNA. That, of course, was the theme song from Rocky. You might think that its dearth of lyrics would make #1 a long shot, but that cheesy instrumental "Music Box Dancer" was a big hit in the same era, and then there were the Hill Street Blues and Beverly Hills Cop theme songs. (Has there been a hit instrumental in the past decade?) The second smile came from the clue [Juicehead who's into the grape] for WINO. I think that's a new clue, and we know how Peter likes to have fresh clues. Not much to say about this puzzle other than "Yay! This Monday and Tuesday aren't holidays for the Sun!"


Today's CrosSynergy puzzle by Bob Klahn, "Low-pH Solutions," plunks a PH at the bottom ("low" end) of five vertically placed theme entries. Afraid so becomes an AFRAID SOPH nervous about pledging a frat; fatale adds weight to a Hebrew letter, FAT ALEPH; the [Mythical mythological maiden?] is a PSEUDONYMPH; Viagra is used to convey info VIA GRAPH; and homeroom develops into baseball asset HOMER OOMPH. This isn't exactly a Monday theme, but I love it regardless of what the calendar says. Favorite clues: [Heart murmur?] for PIT-A-PAT; [Little letter] for NOTE; [You might be asked to button yours] for LIP (FLY is also 3 letters!); [Bananas, nuts, or crackers] for LOCO; [Finish the ninth or tenth letter] for DOT an i or j; and [E-musing] for BLOG.

Pancho Harrison's LA Times crossword changes the first part of several two-syllable words/phrases to include a sound-alike famous name. There's Richard's GERE SHIFT, and coach Bobby's KNIGHT STAND, for example. Best fill: "SO WHAT?" (which was initially looking like some sort of HAT...), LAPTOPS, and a MUST-SEE.