In Joe DiPietro's New York Times crossword, most of the longer answers and all of the 9s are phrases rather than words. I'm definitely a fan of phrasal crossword entries, though it felt like there were a lot of prepositions floating around. BUTTED OUT ([Quit meddling]) crossed EVEN OUT ([Become balanced]), PUT A BID ON ([Tried to buy]) sat atop ON THE MEND ([Improving]) across from ON LOW ([Simmering]), and other entries included AT (STOP AT, [Pay a visit to]) or UP (SLIP-UP, [Blunder]) or TO (WENT TO BED, [Retired]).
Favorite entries and clues:
Karen Tracey's New York Sun "Weekend Warrior" does indeed have plenty of Scrabbly letters in it—notably in TOPAZ QUARTZ, DIZZY GILLESPIE, and TEXT MESSAGE—but it also had some crossings I didn't like, two involving technical mumbo-jumbo. First, there's the [Intel chip brand] crossing ["___ petit placidam sub libertate quietem" (motto of the Bay State)]. I guessed XEOS and ESSE, but it's XEON and ENSE. (Ouch.) Then there's the crossing between ["Fiddler" figure] and [Baseball Hall of Famer Combs]; I guessed YENTA and EARL A., but it's YENTE and EARLE. Never saw Fiddler on the Roof, and await a lesson on the differences between yenta and yente. New York baseball players who died before my parents were born and who aren't Babe Ruth? Also not a strong point for me. (These two crossings were where Across Lite told me my letters were wrong.) Last, we have [___.net (Microsoft's web application framework)]. Really? Ouch. It's ASP. That got mucked up because I was reading [Spark] as a verb, not a noun, and trying CATALYZE for CATALYST, and that E just wasn't leading anywhere. Favorite clues: [Fictional author of the short story "The Pension Grillparzer"] for GARP; [Source of paper profits?] for newspaper ADS; [Five-time Tour de France winner Indurain] for MIGUEL (a gimme); [Dvorak alternative] for a QWERTY keyboard; [Org. that campaigned unsuccessfull to change the name of Fishkill, New York] for PETA (the name means "fish creek" in Dutch—"creek," not "kill 'em all"); [On the ground, in ballet] for A TERRE (not a term I knew, but it makes sense with minimal knowledge of French); and last but not least, ["Yo, Hadrian!"] for AVE.
Nope, the Illinois earthquake this morning didn't awaken me. Drat! Why'd it have to happen in the wee hours when I was sound asleep?
Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy puzzle, "GQ," twists a common misspelling/typo—the intermingling of plaque and plague—into a theme. We get a PLAQUE OF LOCUSTS, QUILT COMPLEX, and QUEST OF HONOR, with Gs being replaced by Qs. The puzzle's a pangram, too—all 26 letters are used at least once in the grid.
I did Doug Peterson's LA Times puzzle right after the CrosSynergy—whaddaya know, another theme with Qs! In this one, each of four phrases gets a QUE (which means WHAT, 61-Down, in Spanish) inserted somewhere. My favorite was the conversion of St. Elsewhere into QUEST ELSEWHERE, or ["Do not seek the Grail in this place"?]. The other theme entries ended up with ANTIQUE, PARQUET, and BASQUE in them. There's another QUE word in the fill crossing the theme—PLAQUES! It's officially the award of the day in crosswordland. Also, if you were looking for "bust A GUT" in the NYT crossword and frustrated not to find it, it's right here at 6-Across. Favorite clue: [Tried to get hits] for GOOGLED.
Sheesh! Now I've done Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "A Greet Addition," and there's a LOCUST clued as [Insect in a plague], so I've circled back to the morning's first puzzle. I would now like a plaque depicting a locust. Three theme entries take a foreign-language greeting and add a letter to change the sense. BUENOS DIALS and GLUTEN TAG (my favorite one) pick up an L, and KONNICHI WAG adds a G—Spanish, German, and Italian. "Holla!" would have been a good alternate title for this crossword, no? Really fun puzzle—I enjoyed the fill and clues throughout.
Michael Ashley's Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, "Big Names," features a theme of presidential nicknames. Did you know Rutherford B. Hayes' nickname was OLD EIGHT TO SEVEN? I sure didn't. The other four theme entries were familiar, though. Cancer makes an appearance in ANTICANCER, [Powerful drug-treatment class]. Fresh but old clue for AGRA—[United Provinces of ___ and Oudh (former name of Uttar Pradesh)].
The Wall Street Journal puzzle credited to Colin Gale is really WSJ crossword editor Mike Shenk's work. In "Company Acquisitions," various company names adopt an extra letter and shift their focus. Starbucks, for example, becomes SITARBUCKS, [Company that pays Indian musicians?], and MetLife is MEATLIFE, [Company that promotes the nonvegetarian lifestyle?]. Overall the crossword was pretty easy, but the theme entry clued [Company that sets costs for masons?], T. ROWEL PRICE? I have a vague sense of rowel as something mechanical or tool-oriented. One dictionary says it's "A sharp-toothed wheel inserted into the end of the shank of a spur." What does that have to do with masons, who work with brick and stone? I have no idea, and Google didn't make it any clearer. Here are pictures—again, no sign of masonry.
April 17, 2008