(post updated at 10:30 a.m. Monday)
Gilbert Ludwig's New York Times crossword bundles together three movie titles that follow the format of "The [synonym for "happy"] [term for a woman defined in relation to a man]." In 1934, Ginger Rogers starred in THE GAY DIVORCEE and Jeanette MacDonald played THE MERRY WIDOW. More recently (in 1975), Lynn Redgrave portrayed THE HAPPY HOOKER. Let's see—what seems out of kilter for a Monday puzzle? I wonder what degree of fame journalist ADELA Rogers St. Johns possesses outside of crosswords. I know her only from crosswords. Writer Zora NEALE Hurston is, I hope, widely renowned. Their Eyes Were Watching God is a terrific read. YMA Sumac is a crossword regular—doesn't she make so much more sense perched atop the YMCA? Overall, pretty darned Mondayish fill, I'd say. Did anyone else read the [Stinky stream] clue, see that the space had five squares, and think of URINE? The [Placid vacation vista] clue for LAKE VIEW is one way to go; [The neighborhood beside Orange's] would be another (94,000 people! City neighborhoods are big, yo.). Lots of non-Mondayish cross-referencing in this puzzle—TURKS live in ANKARA, and actress Saint's first and middle names are EVA and MARIE (or hyphenated first name, if that's how it is).
The New York Sun puzzle by Sarah Keller, "Street Closings," has a Gothamite theme. The five long answers end with words that are also street names in NYC: BRICK WALL and ROOT CANAL, sure. I presume that the bold words in ECHO CHAMBERS, THE RITE OF SPRING, and CONCERT GRAND are also New York streets, but they sound only faintly familiar. The [Tour de France competitor] is CYCLER, but that sounds off to me; cyclist or biker, sure, but I don't think the bike-racing crowd uses "cycler" much. The two 8-letter answers in the fill, ICE CREAM and ONION DIP, clash horribly. Yes, they're both dairy products, but now I'm thinking of onion ice cream and it's making me sad. Almost as sad as that ice cream they used to stock in the college cafeteria—licorice chip. It was charcoal gray with black bits.
The LA Times crossword appears to be Scott Atkinson's debut. (Congrats, Scott!) He partnered with Nancy Salomon. The puzzle's got a heckuva lot of theme squares for a debut, and they're all over the grid. BOX at 65-Down ties them all together, as the theme phrases start with words that can follow BOX. [Auto-care brand with a reptilian name] is TURTLE WAX, and box turtles are a kind of turtle. SEAT OF THE PANTS means [Instinctive], and box seats offer premium seating.
Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle, "First Names in the Funnies," kicks it old-school with Jughead and Midge's pals from the Archie comics. The first names in the theme entries are all Archie characters—ARCHIE MANNING is a [Noted Saints quarterback of the '70s], BETTY CROCKER is a [Big name in baking], VERONICA LAKE was the ["This Gun for Hire" actress], and REGGIE JACKSON is [Baseball's "Mr. October"]. I wasn't sure about Archie Manning's last name, but the rest of the theme practically filled itself in. Yep, I read some Betty & Veronica comics when I was a kid. Cute theme, and perfect for a Monday.
Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword is called "Bizarro World," and all the theme entries become opposites by getting an ANTI added to the beginning. For example, [Street where tires never slip?] is ANTISKID ROW, playing on Skid Row, and a thesis paper is turned into ANTITHESIS PAPER, [What opposites are written down on?]. I do not have a pad of antithesis paper, but I could use one. My favorite theme entry rebutted Gen X-ers, with ANTIGEN XERS being [People who cross out a substance that causes an immune response?]. Overlong clue, but the answer looks good in the grid.
July 20, 2008