D'oh! I was barking up the wrong tree in David Kahn's New York Times puzzle. I'll bet I wasn't alone, but I'll also wager that plenty of you (*cough* Howard *cough*) caught onto the Thursday-style gimmick quickly and easily. The theme's a tribute to YVES SAINT LAURENT, the noted FASHION designer who died a few weeks ago and whose name is 16 letters long, necessitating a 15x16 grid. The theme entails having Laurent's famous monogram, YSL, in four rebus squares. It's not remotely arbitrary because he plastered that YSL on all sorts of merchandise—why, we had a couple multicolored washcloths with an embroidered YSL when I was a child. Where I went awry was guessing correctly that 17-Across, [Rube's opposite], was CITY SLICKER with a rebus somewhere, but KAYOS fit with the Y where the rebus square belonged in LAYS LOW ([Knocks to the ground]). 11-Down, [Orchid variety], is LADY SLIPPER crossing [New York's ___ Building, tallest in the world in 1930], or CHRYSLER. 36-Down, ["Ben-Hur" extra], is GALLEY SLAVE crossing PAY SLIPS, or [Check attachments] (this oddball term was just in another puzzle a few days ago). [Extra shuteye] is BEAUTY SLEEP and it crosses KEY SLOT, or [Lock opening].
Favorite clues: [It circles Hades nine times] for the river STYX; [Submarine base?] for SALAMI in a sandwich; ["Upidstay" language] for PIG LATIN; [Girl's name that's a butterfly genus] for GRETA (Greta oto is a glasswing butterfly); and [Canal near Rome] in New York State for ERIE. I had no idea that ALO was a [Phone greeting in Central America].
All righty now, moving along to Patrick Blindauer's New York Sun crossword, "Here Comes the Sun"...what's the theme? SHADE YOUR EYES means we are to shade the letter I where it appears, I surmise. Hang on—let me go do that. Ah, doing so, we see that Patrick has drawn a sun with six rays. Or maybe it's eight rays, if you shade that central theme entry. All the I's give us a few words that end in that letter: Nancy PELOSI, the game of SHOGI, Sam RAIMI, GOTTI, SCUSI, SALAMI (this time it's a [Pizza topping] rather than sandwich fixin'), and a couple more. You don't get that many terminal-I words in most crosswords.
Patrick Blindauer's byline also appears on today's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Break a Leg!" The theme's got nothing to do with theater—rather, the word LEG is "broken," or split between words 1 and 2, in each theme entry. Some of the theme entries are inherently fun—the JUNGLE GYM, a DRIBBLE GLASS, and BUBBLE GUM. FLAMMABLE GAS and a VEGETABLE GARDEN resonate a bit less with my inner child...though there is a LEGUME connecting LIT and FLAMMABLE GAS, which connects with an inner adolescent dolt. [Captain Marvel's transformation word] is, of course, SHAZAM. Ah, '70s Saturday morning live-action TV! The Shazam and Isis hour was must-see TV.
Don Gagliardo's LA Times crossword says that people who HAVE A MEAN STREAK are biting, sharp, foul, and cutting. Those four words begin the theme entries BITING THE BULLET ([Sucking it up]), SHARP CORNER ([Biker's challenge]), FOUL TIP ([Strikeout averter, perhaps]), and CUTTING EDGE ([Like the latest technology]). 1-Down is the [Current national all-time record], or the national DEBT. Speaking of the national debt, I'm hoping that Patrick Creadon's Wordplay follow-up, the documentary I.O.U.S.A., will be showing at the Chicago International Film Festival this fall. Below DEBT in the grid, we have two Jesus clues: [Jesus, ___ of God] and [Jesus of baseball]—LAMB and ALOU, respectively. Usually NIELS gets a Bohr clue, doesn't it? Here it's [19th-century Norwegian mathematician Abel]. His L crosses LICE, clued trickily as [Head case?]. There are some [Majestic fish eaters] in the grid, but they're not erns—they're BALD EAGLES.
June 25, 2008