If you like both crosswords and sudoku, you'll enjoy Patrick Blindauer and Frank Longo's new book, Crosswordoku. Each pair of puzzles includes a crossword and a sudoku—the 13x13 crossword has some shaded squares, and you transfer the letters in those squares into the shaded squares of the sudoku grid. Then you've got a "wordoku" puzzle to contend with—a sudoku logic challenge using nine different letters rather than numbers. The finished wordoku grid will include a nine-letter word in one row, column, or diagonal (and if it's the diagonal, it won't be an anagram of the nine letters used in the grid). I'm still in the "beginner" section at the beginning of the book (hey, I just started the book last night), but both the crosswords and -oku puzzles will get harder as the book progresses.
Brendan Emmett Quigley's latest Sunday New York Times crossword is called "What the H?" Each of the eight theme entries changes a W word into a sound-alike WH word:
Let's turn our attention to the knottiest fill: NATICK is the [Town at the eighth mile of the Boston Marathon], and it sits atop CARROL, [Charlie Chan player J. ___ Naish]. Ouch! 2-Down could have been OOHED AT just as easily as the correct AAHED AT ([Showed delight over]), and ["Treasure Island" illustrator, 1911] N.C. WYETH's initials cross NATICK and CARROL. ARNE is the first name of [Swedish Chemistry Nobelist Tiselius]. The [1887 Chekhov play] IVANOV was eluding me when I'd thoughtlessly entered WHIRLED REPORT instead of RECORD, making THE CAN (the [Stir]) turn into THE PEN and obscuring the sense of [Fully or partially: Abbr.]—that's ADV, or the abbreviation for adverb, which is what "fully" and "partially" are. At least, these were the knottiest spots for me—I'm seeing some longer-than-usual applet solving times, so I suspect people found other hitches too.
Favorite clues and favorite answers, in no particular order:
The Saturday Wall Street Journal included Mike Shenk's crossword (published under his Alice Long nom de plume), as the usual publication day, Friday, was the Fourth of July. In the "American Plan" theme, eight phrases adopted the letters USA and radically changed their meanings. Bond traders became BONUS AD TRADERS, or [Ones swapping free TV spots?]. That one feels a little tortured, but presumably the bond traders who like the WSJ crossword appreciated the shout-out. Cal Tech gives us a CAUSAL TECH. There's a SAUSAGE BRUSH, a [Tool for scrubbing a salami?] (sagebrush). [Fizz added to "Every Breath You Take"?] is STING OPUS AERATION (sting operation). Grand Prix yields a GRAND PRIUS AX. There's CHRISTMAS CAROUSAL. Those are all fine, sure, but my favorite theme entries are CLUB MEDUSA, [Advice to Perseus if he had a bat instead of a sword?], and SAY IT AIN'T SOUSA, ["Please don't play another march by that guy!"?].
Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle, "The Jack Black Society," assembles 13 people (a few of them fictional) who, like Jack Black, have rhyming names. The least obvious is LEO CARRILLO, [Actor who played Pancho on TV's The Cisco Kid]. Fast food spokesclown RONALD MCDONALD, [Salad inventor] BOB COBB, CHERI OTERI of SNL (111-Down), and several others join the rhyme party. [Operetta pioneer] JACQUES OFFENBACH and an [L.A. center, once] named SHAQUILLE O'NEAL are stacked together with their Q's in close proximity—that's some fancy constructin' there. I love seeing Happy Days' redhead, RALPH MALPH, in the grid. Fun fill overall—MR. BEAN, "OH, CRUD," LINUS from "Peanuts"—lots of pop culture inside and outside the theme.
Updated midday Sunday:
Newcomer Zack Kushner makes a nice debut with his syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, "Sail Away." The six theme entries have boating puns:
Favorite clues: [Uses a powerful engine] for GOOGLES; ["Just kidding!"] for "PSYCH!"; [Lettuce] for GELT; [Strawberry Shortcake, e.g.] for DOLL; and [Airport in "Home Alone"] for O'HARE.
Bob Klahn's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge" has tons of lively fill and tricky clues:
July 05, 2008