Call me a rebel if you must, but I do like crosswords that mess around with how things are supposed to be. The famous Patrick Merrell NYT puzzle that intentionally violated a bunch of crossword rules; the recent Joe Krozel NYT puzzle in which 10 clues were lies (or at the very least, dead wrong); the Thursday New York Times crossword by newcomer Keith Talon with a theme that cries out for attentive editing. His first theme entry is PROOFREADINNG with an extra N, clued as [What this answer could use?]. In the middle, TYPOGRPAHICAL is [Like this answer's error], a transposition of two letters. And at the bottom, [This answer contains one] MISPELLING, that missing S. The fill's got a quartet of 8-letter answers, such as STERLING, which is both [First-rate] and the name of the cognoscenti's favorite puzzle book publisher. (We love the binding and the paper stock, yes, but also the crosswords and other types of puzzles.) (St. Martin's Griffin also rocks, of course.) Another 8 is YOSEMITE, [Home of the 1,612-foot Ribbon Falls]. I'd never heard of Ribbon Falls, so I figured I'd include a photo. Sure looks mossy! They say it dries out every summer. Tuesday's puzzle seemed like at least a Wednesday, and Thursday's puzzle also feels like a Wednesday.
Joe DiPietro's "Themeless Thursday" in the New York Sun felt more like a Friday, or maybe it's just me—I'm plumb tuckered out. Great vibe from a lot of the fill—Camus's THE PLAGUE, SUKIYAKI (plus HIBACHI, rounding out the Japanese section), CO-CHAIR, MADE A LIST (my problem isn't making the lists, it's getting anything accomplished that's on the list). Anna Nicole Smith's former employer TRIMSPA, PLAIN-JANE, and a PIZZA OVEN (like RAZZ, one of two answers with a double Z). SAXONS are [British invasion participants] who predate the Beatles; their X crosses XHOSA (!), a [Bantu language related to Swazi]. The last letter I filled in was the N in RED BANK, the [New Jersey birthplace of Count Basie], crossing Gary [Cooper's "High Noon" role], KANE. My favorite entry here is the [Early TV role for Moore], Laura PETRIE. Can I get an "Oh, Rob!"?
The LA Times crossword brings together new (I think) constructor Sharon Peterson with noted mentor Nancy Salomon. The theme entries all pertain to the BEACH (38-Across) in that the beginning of the first word in each is something beachy. [No longer moist to the touch] is SURFACE-DRY, which begins with SURF. SEASON TICKETS make a nice [Gift for a symphony lover], and the SEA is there. A [Worn sign] is a SANDWICH BOARD, starting with SAND. [Church duds], or SUNDAY BEST, starts with SUN. Highlights in the fill include WEAK-KNEED with its double K ([Likely to cave]—one of two cave clues, the other being [Caves, to early man] for ABODES), ANECDOTES, and A GOOD DEAL. Favorite clue: [Bugs came to life with his help], M*L...MAL? MEL? MIL? MOL? MUL? MYL? Eventually the crossing told me it was MEL and I realized it was Mel Blanc and Bugs Bunny, not some other kind of bugs.
Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy crossword, "Fried French," tortures some French phrases by changing parts into English words that sound similar. [Parkas, sweaters, and such?] are HOT COUTURE (haute), [Heavy knickknacks?] are BRICK-A-BRAC (bric), [Last mowing of the season?] is COUP DE GRASS (grace), and [Extended pursuit?] is CHASE LONGUE (chaise). Favorite clue: the insidery [Opera seen frequently in crosswords], AIDA.
July 02, 2008