I'm a bit brain-dead this evening, so I may be giving the NYT and Sun puzzles short shrift.
The New York Times puzzle is by Ari Halpern. The theme is explained in 71-Across, STORY—which can also be parsed as "S to RY." In each theme entry, an S is changed to an RY. Thus, we get the following:
In the fill, ONE POUND seems at first glance like it's an arbitrary answer, but with a clue like [Candy box size], I am thinking happy thoughts of fine chocolate. The clue for OPERATOR references the 0 you dial to reach the operator: [Zero personality?]. [Duke's home] is DURHAM, North Carolina, and not some duchy or castle—though that one had me going for a bit.
In the New York Sun, Patrick Blindauer teaches an elementary art class. The rebus squares in "Secondary Education" need to contain secondary colors. If you mix the red from WAS MY FACE [RED] with the yellow from a [YELLOW] CAB, you get [ORANGE] (filling in ORANGE or presumably O works in Across Lite). I haven't seen the [1988 Errol Morris documentary about the murder of a police officer, with "The"], but I always like his movies so I should see The THIN [BLUE] LINE. The color crosses THE [RED] SOX, the ["Fever Pitch" squad]; that was the Drew Barrymore romantic comedy about a baseball nut and love. Blue and red combine to make [PURPLE] in the center square. You mix up some [GREEN] with the airline JET[BLUE] crossing the Beatles' "[YELLOW] SUBMARINE." Cool theme! The non-theme fill is good, too—"I HEAR YA," THE HAJ, GRANOLA and a BURRITO, etc.
Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Figuratively Speaking," replaces the word GRAND with the figure 1,000. Although, this being a crossword puzzle and not a crossnumber puzzle, that number's represented by the letters IOOO:
The question marks shouldn't really be there, I don't think, because the clues are completely straightforward—it's the answers that take a twist. I know some of you are outraged at the interchangeability of I and 1, O and 0, but I think it's fine as long as it's consistent. This puzzle's fill shines—eight 9-letter entries, just because? I don't mind a small theme (this one includes just 37 squares) if it gets me some themeless-grade fill, like ROLE MODEL, JOE NAMATH, SOUND BITE, and TYRA BANKS.
Don Gagliardo's LA Times crossword has a lot more theme squares—63, to be exact. THREE'S COMPANY is a [1970s='80s sitcom, and what the answers to starred clues all can be]. There are 10 starred entries filling four Across rows in the grid, and each is a word that can keep the word three company. The 2000 Will Smith role was BAGGER Vance, and three-bagger is a baseball term. Three-HANDED describes card games played by three people. Three-PHASE is an electricity term. Three-PLY tissues have three layers of paper. Three-PIECE suits are familiar haberdashery. You might ride a three-SPEED bike. The phrase three-WAY has numerous connotations. Three-COLOR is a printing term. A triple-decker or three-DECKER is a three-level ship, sandwich, or building. And a three-LEGGED race is popular at some picnics.
I'd never heard of [1950s-'70s quarterback Bratkowski], nicknamed ZEKE. My nickname in college, among friends who were a year behind me, was Zeke. Wow, it's been a long time since anyone called me that. When I read the clue [Like bottom fins on a fish], I spent some time pondering what the answer could be; dorsal is the other side. Turns out to be a particularly delicate clue for PELVIC, which I would be tempted to clue as [___ thrust, as in The Rocky Horror Picture Show] or [___ exam]. I thought EBATE, or [Online discount], looked trumped up, but Googling turned up Ebates.com.
July 09, 2008