On this day in 2007, I was vacationing in Liverpool. O, to be in England! Except never again in May—the only time I've ever had seasonal allergies was last May in England.
The Friday New York Sun crossword, "Ends in the Middle" by Alan Olschwang, threatened to stymie me in the lower left corner, but somehow I extracted the right letters from the darkest recesses of my brain. (As opposed to the well-lighted parts.) Two theme entries contain the ABC end of the alphabet in their middles (TAB COLLARS and REHAB CENTER), and the other two contain XYZ. The problematic corner was where the insane Roman numeral multiplication problem and unfamiliar ["Strangers on a Train" costar] crossed the [DC Comics villain] whose vowel-free name I've seen in a crossword, MR. MXYZPTLK. The first M starts MCM, or [LXXVI x XXV], and the second M is in RUTH ROMAN. Favorite clues:
Least known to me:
The New York Times crossword by Jim Page just wasn't on my wavelength. Favorite clues:
Least favorite entries:
Other clues that I suspect will stump many people:
Matt Jones goes themeless, as he does a few times a year, in this week's Jonesin' crossword. Two of the three long entries in the midsection—in the puzzle's womb, as it were—are FRATERNAL TWINS and RAISE CHILDREN. Those aren't coincidental—Matt's a new dad! Favorite parts of the puzzle: [Meg's mom, on "Family Guy"] is LOIS, who is the star of this video clip that perfectly encapsulates parenting; EDITH PIAF, with her last three letters crossing the stack in the middle of the grid; the [Meat Puppets song coverd by Nirvana on "MTV Unplugged"] is "OH ME" (and would you believe none of Nirvana's Unplugged songs seem to be available as phone ringtones?); and [Phrase said after smacking one's forehead], or "NOW I GET IT," making its second crossword appearance this week. Not wild about the heavy use of word endings in CRUMBLIEST, SYRUPIEST, and LONESOMELY, but will forgive it since Matt will soon enough be getting the Stewie-on-Family Guy treatment from two kids at once.
Doug Peterson's LA Times puzzle used plenty of Friday clues to make it harder to figure out what the theme entries were, since the theme entries were pretty much ungettable without knowing the gimmick. I suppose if I'd started at the bottom of the grid, where, I BEFORE E, [Start of an English rule, and this puzzle's theme], was lurking, it would have come together sooner. [Athena's appearance?] is a WISE MIEN (with an I before the E in the second word). [Doctor's office status, often?] is PATIENT PENDING (patent). [Components in relatively slow computers?] are POKIER CHIPS (poker). And [Tales from the market?] isn't about the stock market—it's GROCERY STORIES (stores). I love the word SKITTERED ([Skipped along]) and should use it more often than I do.
Jim Leeds' Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, "Cross Examinations," gets TESTY (39-Across) by sneaking four standardized tests (and, in keeping with the publication that published this puzzle, they're all ones a college student or grad might take, not a mere SAT) into rebus squares in the four longest entries. KI[M CAT]TRALL contains the MCAT; PUL[LS A T]RICK ON has the LSAT; READIN[G MAT]TER has the GMAT, and OLIVE [GRE]EN holds the GRE. There were two unknown-to-me answers that crossed—"Little MATTIE," the Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem, and "TU[LSA T]IME," the Don Williams hit single, but what else could go there but an I? The rebus crossings were all smooth as silk—ENI[GMAT]IC, A[GRE]ES, and TO[MCAT]S. I don't know that I would have thought it possible to make an MCAT/LSAT/GMAT rebus crossword! But the rebused entries all work, and the entire puzzle is solid.
Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy crossword, "Have Courage!", tosses synonyms for brave into the theme entries: a VALIANT EFFORT, FEARLESS FOSDICK, and Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD. Fantastic clue: [Bridges of Los Angeles County] for BEAU Bridges. With five or six other names from show business, this crossword felt more like an LA Times puzzle—and they weren't showbiz names from the '30s, '40s, and '50s, so I enjoyed it thoroughly.
This week's Wall Street Journal crossword, "Getting a Business Degree," is credited to Maryanne Lemot, which anagrams to "not my real name"—it's editor Mike Shenk's work. Not only does this puzzle have plenty of sparkling fill—like PUFF PIECE; two [Item in a certain kit] entries, SNARE DRUM and HI-HAT (from a drum kit); CAR WASH; SCOREBOARD; and SORE THUMBS—it's also got an entertaining theme. The insert-a-group-of-letters theme can fall flat or it can gleam, and this one gleams by adding a dry MBA to assorted base phrases:
May 08, 2008