Will be short in posting tonight—
Gary Whitehead constructed the New York Times puzzle. The theme is things that JAM (56-Down): RUSH-HOUR TRAFFIC, a HARD ROCK BAND ([Def Leppard, for one]), and a LASER PRINTER. I like the theme—three disparate things that do fit the category. The fill seems targeted at my son—he likes MAC and cheese, and MILLE Bornes, and FLATBED tow trucks. [Signs of decay] is kind of icky for ODORS; what decaying thing are we supposed to be smelling over our breakfast crossword puzzle? At least MOLDS were for making chocolate and not being found on our bread and EDAM.
The New York Sun crossword's got a quote theme, which is atypical for the Sun. The byline, Ogden Porter, is an anagram of Peter Gordon. The quote's a [Horace Mann quote that's the motto of Antioch College]: BE ASHAMED TO / DIE UNTIL YOU / HAVE WON / SOME VICTORY / FOR HUMANITY. Wouldn't it be terrible to live out an undistinguished life, winning no victories for humanity, and to lie on your deathbed feeling ashamed? Aw. In the fill, KARAOKE BAR is balanced by MR MAGORIUM, the title character played by Dustin Hoffman in that dreadful-looking holiday movie my kid had zero interest in seeing. (Were the moviemakers not ashamed to be ripping off Willy Wonka, winning no victories for humanity or art?) Favorite clue: [Thing studied by a helminthologist] for WORM. Just because.
Robert E. Lee Morris's LA Times crossword has a roundabout theme. The central entry is FIT TO A T, which the first words of the four theme entries are said to do. Those words can be fitted to a T to make T-SQUARE, T-BONE, T-TOP, and T-MOBILE. I like the inclusion in the fill of COOLEY High, which I watched back in '75; and of course I didn't miss an episode of "What's Happening." (Shirley Hemphill rocked.) There's a '60s to '70s vibe here, with Tatum O'NEAL and Goldie HAWN's Oscars, Louise LASSER of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and a TAPE DECK before its near-obsolescence.
Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy crossword is called "First Take!" and it's a good thing. I'm not sure I would have noticed the theme if not for the title. The four theme entries begin with words that can follow "take"—take CHARGE, take ACTION, etc. Best fill: "OFF YOU GO," Fido, to THE POUND. VAL Kilmer is in this grid. The other day I read that he and Wilmer Valderrama are in an upcoming movie together. I hope they entertained themselves on the set by swapping last names and initial letters. Val Valderrama and Wilmer Kilmer! Val Wilmer and Kilmer Valderrama! If they became a tabloid item, perhaps they could be called Kwilmer or Valmer. Valmer Kilderrama! Okay, I'll stop now.
March 18, 2008