May 11, 2008

Monday, 5/12

NYS 3:29
LAT 2:56
CS 2:54
NYT 2:34

It's still Mother's Day while I write this, so let me share with you the YouTube Mother's Day video that's been cracking me up (and my husband and kid) all weekend.

Well, the last time the New York Times crossword had a 4-H theme, it was Adam Perl's 1/1/08 puzzle. That one spelled out the four H's the organization is named after. This time, Randall Hartman uses FOUR-H CLUBS to describe three theme entries that each contain four instances of the letter H. (Note: The 4-H organization uses the numeral, not the word Four.) Those three phrases are HIGH CHURCH, a dull-sounding [Anglican body]; ROSH HASHANAH, a straight-up [Jewish high holy day] (which could've used an alternate clue to avoid duplicating the high that's in the first theme entry, as a sop to the anti-duplication sticklers—who also surely noted that HOLY is in the fill too); and my favorite, "WHICH IS WHICH?"—[Question when you can't tell two things apart]. The non-theme fill is quite nice. The longest answers there are ROAST BEEF (a "this little piggy" clue would've been cute, though hard to phrase) and SAPPHIRES, and there are also almost a dozen 6- and 7-letter answers. HOOPLA! Several others cohere in a vacation/party theme: Swing at the PINATA or rest on the CHAISE. Go to TAHITI or another ISLAND—the former has plenty of CACHET. Here's a funny clue: [Top secret?] for TOUPEE. Psst: It's often not so secret after all.


Okay, why can't I download today's New York Sun crossword? Pete Mitchell has blogged it, but it seems to have vanished from the Sun's site.

Rich Norris (writing as "Lila Cherry") has crafted quite a nice baseball crossword in the LA Times. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but the category of names here—members of the [...exclusive "600 club"...] who've hit more than 600 HOME RUNS—gets plenty of ink. Even if you don't follow baseball, you're likely to be familiar with these athletes' names, which array themselves symmetrically with the aid of HOME RUNS. Sure, we might not know which player goes with which HR count (current through April 27), but the names are famous enough. It's a deft touch to include KEN [Griffey Jr. who is virtually certain to join the "600 club" this year] in the puzzle—and his name's got 12 letters, so once he joins the 600 club, this theme would be impossible to pull off in a symmetrical 15x15 grid. The fill's on a par with the theme; highlights include RUBY DEE, NOODLES, TUCK IN ([Help get comfy at bedtime]), POWDER snow, "HOW NICE!" (my reaction to this crossword), DEALT and DECKS both relating to playing cards, JIBE, and a fresh CUKE.

Sarah Keller's CrosSynergy puzzle, "B Minus," has five theme entries where the original phrase loses a B from the beginning. So [Where to find a highly placed anonymous source?] is LEAK HOUSE (vs. Dickens' Bleak House), and the [Only remaining heater?] is the LAST FURNACE (blast).

Updated Tuesday morning with Monday's Sun:

Mark Feldman's New York Sun crossword, "She's a Gem," limns a gem of a woman with PEARLY WHITE TEETH, JET BLACK HAIR, and EMERALD GREEN EYES—pearls, jet, and emerald all being gems. (The two longest theme entries have 16 letters, so the grid's 15x16.) The end of the theme at 59-Down said ["...and her name is ___!"]. Five letters ending in L? Must be BERYL, right? Er, no. Just the more generic JEWEL. The longest Across answers are TELEMARK, DOWNHILL, KNEE BEND, and OUT TO SEA—ever so slightly addling to have two of them be skiing terms. Best fill answrs: P.B. AND J., MOOCHES, and SAN JOSE. BEFOOL looks weird but it's a word. Not sure if there's any reason to ever use befool in lieu of the shorter fool...