February 10, 2008

Monday, 2/11

CS 4:15
NYS 3:14
LAT 2:50
NYT 2:34

Excellent example of a Monday crossword, the New York Times puzzle by Ken Bessette. The first four theme entries comprise an olio of phrases that begin with words that can also be "___ jobs." There's NOSE AROUND, the ODD COUPLE, PAINT THE TOWN RED, and SNOW WHITE—two phrases, two (or three) characters. They're tied together by JOB OPENING—and isn't it more elegant to have JOB OPENING in the grid, rather than JOB plus a clue that says "word that can follow the first word of the theme entries"? The fill sparkles, too—there's PAC-MAN eating MATZOH and CHILI (with FRITOs) and playing the ZITHER, longish DRAW UPON, and plenty of words that we don't see in every third crossword, such as WRITHE, WIFI, ABRUPT, CRANNY, and TALCUM. It's all CLUED ([Informed, with "in"]) at a solid Monday level, but the variety in the fill livens things up.


I started reading the clues in the upper left corner of the CrosSynergy crossword, "It's OK!", and the answers were not coming readily to mind. What? It's a Monday! Ah, but the byline reads Bob Klahn, so there must be plenty of oblique Saturdayish clues to liven up this Monday. The theme is minimal—just 33 squares in three entries, each swapping in an OK where there was an IT (as in THAT'S A POKY, from that's a pity). I don't look to Klahn for theme action, though—it's those gnarly clues that draw me. For example: [Go out for a while] for SNOOZE; [Grease job?] for BRIBERY; [Make bacon?] for EARN; [Not the sharpest knife in the drawer] for OBTUSE; and [Bread holder?] for WALLET, to name just a few. Top-notch fill, too: X-RAY EYES, AARDVARK, 1 vs. 100's THE MOB, a BEARCLAW, and an ANTIHERO.

Diane Baldwin's LA Times crossword also includes OBTUSE, here straightforwardly clued as [Like angles between 90 and 180 degrees]. The theme is mimicry—FOLLOW THE LEADER, REPEAT AFTER ME, and SECOND THE MOTION. Lots of 6- and 7-letter answers in the fill (along with plenty of 3s).

Michael Blake's New York Sun crossword is called "B.C. Boast." It took me until I wrote that to see what the theme was, and now that I understand it, I love it! (Mind you, if I'd read the whole clue for 52-Across, it would have been obvious. But those long Sun clues and doing an Across Lite on a Mac...it's a hassle to find the end of those clues.) VENISON STEAK, VIDIAN ARTERY (the what?), and VICISSITUDES begin with JULIUS CAESAR's "Veni, vidi, vici" boast. I don't know that the vidian artery has a place in a Monday crossword, because this medical editor doesn't know it, but the crossings were easy.