Lynn Lempel's New York Times puzzle inadvertently bummed me out with 1-Across. [Like students in the Head Start program], 4 letters starting with P? *gasp!* Can it really be POOR? No, it was PRE-K. But then two other corners bummed me out, with [Reasons for special ed] cluing LOW IQS (ouch) and ALMS for the poor. The theme entries all contain FOUND MONEY in that the circled letters spell out various currencies. The South African rand is parked inside DURAN DURAN—and that was one of my favorite bands of the early '80s New Wave. I memorized all the lyrics on the Rio album, I did. Turkey's LIRA resides in a bordering land, in MOSUL, IRAQ. Japan's YEN and a HIGHWAY ENTRANCE and Mexico's PESO and GRAPE SODA round out the theme. Lots of longish fill, including TEA TASTER (clued as [Lipton employee]), which looked completely trumped up to me, but what do I know? Lipton probably has tea tasters on staff. I liked seeing Mark SPITZ in the grid, as I just read about 41-year-old Dara Torres fixin' to qualify for the U.S.'s Olympic swim team, which she's been kicking swimmer butt on since 1984.
The New York Sun puzzle is Patrick Blindauer's umpteenth published crossword in the past week. Well, maybe not the umpteenth, but at least the third, maybe the fourth or fifth. I groaned when I saw that the first theme entry of "Show People" was DREAMGIRLS, a Broadway show. But then the other shows turned out to end with (JERSEY) BOYS, (LITTLE) WOMEN, and (A FEW GOOD) MEN, so they make a good foursome, and the way they're paired gives a Mondayesque solving boost. Patrick (and/or editor Peter Gordon) was showing off a bit when he included four X's and two Z's in the fill...along with a Q, a J, and some K's. KARL MARX stacked atop corporate chicken man Frank PERDUE is beautifully inapt, isn't it?
Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy crossword, "Abide With Me," begins three theme entries that are synonyms for abide: BEAR (MARKETS), STAND (UP AND CHEER), and STOMACH (ACHE). Supplementing the theme are longer-than-usual fill entries—two 9's, six 8's, two 7's, and 20 6's—that give it a hint of a themeless-fill vibe.
After getting the first two theme entries in Jerome Gunderson's LA Times crossword (BREEZEWAY and SQUEEZE PLAY), I thought all four would rhyme—but the other two are SNEEZE GUARD and FREEZE-DRY so the theme appears to be compound words or phrases that start with *EEZE words. One of the theme entries crosses SNAZZIER, with an extra Z added, and that extra Z crosses ZZ TOP with another optional Z, bringing the Z count to six. I can't be sure that anyone has ever uttered the sentence, "I'M HEP" (["You dig?" response]), though...
Updated again Monday afternoon:
Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword for this week is entitled "I'm Going to Have to Cut You Off," but it has nothing to do with overimbibing. Actually, that's not true, I see belatedly! The five theme entries are phrases with the last letter lopped off to change the meaning, and each of those phrases is a cocktail. [The part of the church that's covered in hair?] is a FUZZY NAVE (the Fuzzy Navel drink is peachy). [Irish version of an old French coin?] repurposes the crosswordesey SOU in WHISKEY SOU (whiskey sour). A hot toddy drops the Y to be HOT TODD, or [Attractive actor Bridges of "Diff'rent Strokes"]. There are also GIN AND TONI (tonic) and DRY MARTIN (martini). The fill percolates with bartending words, too—there's ice in ICEMAN, SPOONS for stirring (wait, do bartenders stir with spoons or just stirrers?), a bottle of BAILEY'S, ABEAM (evoking Jim Beam), ALE, TENDS (bar or the goal), DASHING with a dash of bitters perhaps, and ILL and MOANS for the hangover that results from ingesting all this liquor.
June 29, 2008