(post updated at noonish Thursday)
Allan Parrish's New York Times crossword meets one of the criteria for a themeless puzzle—the word count is just 72, which is pretty low for a themed puzzle. There are just 35 theme squares, so there's plenty of room for all those answers that are 7+ letters long. The theme journeys with Dante from heaven down to hell, passing through earth on the way: TOO MUCH HEAVEN was a [1979 Bee Gees chart-topper], from their post-Saturday Night Fever album; here's the video. RARE EARTH was the [Band with the 1970 hit "Get Ready"]; I don't remember them, or that song, at all. The third Dantean musical title is HIGHWAY TO HELL, the [1979 AC/DC seven-time platinum album]. Not just an album, but also a song.
Favorite clues and fill:
Karen Tracey's New York Sun "Themeless Thursday" got me to laugh. [Game show host with the catchphrase "Let's do crosswords"]? TY TREADWAY! As I have mentioned before in this space, he has dreamy eyes in person. This puzzle's packed with fresh and flavorful answers and clues. To wit:
And of course, Karen dispenses a few geography lessons:
The theme entries in Donna Levin's Los Angeles Times crossword all have the same clue: [Clutch]. In addition to its verb meaning, it has at least four noun senses: a GEARSHIFT PEDAL, BROOD OF CHICKS, HANDHELD PURSE, and CRITICAL MOMENT. Somehow I found myself wandering through this crossword distracted, not instantly getting too many clues (other than the Bee Gees' "STAYIN' Alive," a [1978 #1 hit]). ["National Velvet" horse, with "The"] is PIE? That is not a pie I would like to eat. PELHAM was a [Confederate officer under Stuart]? I know only The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. A [Manmade inlet subject to ebbs and flows] started with TID, that much I knew, but TIDAL BASIN was not on the tip of my tongue. [Small ones?] are FRY, but the Y crosses [Kind of devil?], and I went with SHE rather than SLY, which mucked up the FRY zone. The [Fictional braggart] is the HARE in Aesop's fable.
I figured I was in for a repeat of yesterday and that Sarah Keller's CrosSynergy puzzle, "See 38-Across," would take the same amount of time as the day's other three puzzles. But no! This one seemed Monday-easy. 38-Across is [First rock from the sun], or MERCURY, the planet closest to the sun. The other four 11- and 12-letter theme entries are all [A (or another) definition for 38-Across]:
Favorite clues and answers:
July 30, 2008