Manny Nosowsky left us a lot of white space to fill in the New York Times puzzle. Triple-stacked sets of 15s at the top and bottom, with plenty of longish Down answers crossing them to facilitate your progress through the grid—provided that you can interpret his clues. My favorites of the 15s are HAS A LOT GOING FOR, or [Is blessed with many assets, before "him" or "her"] (Does this qualify as a 15-letter partial or not? Why?); IMPROVE ON NATURE, or [Have cosmetic surgery, for example] (anyone else notice that GO UNDER THE KNIFE also fits? yeah, that didn't help me one bit); and the TRADITIONAL IRAS, [Some bank offerings]. We have [Old Turkish title] and [Turkish title], non-old variety—BEY and AGHA, respectively. Favorite clues: [Connector in a song] for HIPBONE; [Something that shouldn't be left open] for FLY; [Tops] for TERRIFIC; [Like an "eh," maybe] for NASAL; [Sensitivity] for ESTHESIA; [One of the Jackson 5] for MARLON; [It's negative] for ANION; [Heads of a tribe?] for TOTEM; [Fired pitcher?] for CERAMIC (nominee for favorite clue of the year); [Titles for Italian 31-Down], SIGNORI, referencing MEN; [Examine, in Exeter] for ANALYSE (British spelling); [Alternative to pasta] for POLENTA; [Put in a bibliography, e.g.] for CATALOG; and [Carry out] for FULFILL. I don't care for [Studies under a microscope] for AMOEBAS, nor for past clues like [Sleep lab study] for APNEA. Study ≠ the thing being studied, at least not in the American Heritage dictionary. It clanged rather than PURRED ([Sounded smooth]).
Least obvious, to me:
"Ogden Porter" (Peter Gordon) created the New York Sun crossword, "Adaptees." The theme is musicals adapted from movies, plays, or operas, with five answers occupying six spaces in the grid. It felt about Tuesday-Sun level in difficulty, so no need to bang your head against the wall with this one. Favorite entries: the book WOE IS I, the song "MY HUMPS" (good gravy, that song won a Grammy? I much prefer Alanis Morisette's downbeat cover version), the Barney Miller character WOJO (my second favorite character on that show when I was a kid—guess my favorite), and DR. PHIL. Least familiar answer: ZEILE, [Former Mets infielder Todd]. Cutest clue: [Pop idol?] for MOM.
Short shrift for all the puzzles—let's just say this is not my day.
Paula Gamache's CrosSynergy puzzle, "The Color Purple," has four theme entries that begin with words that can follow "purple." I like the rockin' ones best—Jimi Hendrix's Purple HAZE and Prince's Purple RAIN.
Robert Wolfe's LA Times puzzle takes scientific units of measure as its punny theme. I rather like OHM-SCHOOLED.
Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword's theme this week is famous twins. Two of the four theme entries, I didn't know were twins. Tons of fun clues and answers throughout.
Ed Sessa's Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, "Silence!", is GOLDEN. There are no theme entries per se—until you hit 59-Across, which instructs you to circle the UNHEARD letter in each of six answers in the grid. LASAGNA's G, I would argue, isn't exactly silent, because it signals you to change the N's sound (we don't pronounce it "lazonna," after all). LEOPARD's O, LINCOLN's second L, HANDSOMER's D, HEARKEN's first E, and CONDEMN's final N are all silent, and when you take the silent letters together, silence is GOLDEN. Quite gentle as crossword gimmicks go—you don't have to use the gimmick to finish filling in the grid.
Tyler Hinman's Wall Street Journal crossword, "Bad Trading Day," adds a DOWN to each theme entry, changing one word of an existing phrase into a word or phrase that contains DOWN. For instance, snowed under encloses a DOWN to become SNOWED DOWN UNDER, or [Hoodwinked in Hobart?], or snowed in Tasmania/Australia. Aptly, all seven theme entries run DOWNward in the grid. Among the highlights in the fill is WALT DISNEY, the namesake of my kid's school; I didn't know he was a [Winner of 26 Oscars]; that is quite a lot.
April 10, 2008