(post last updated at 7:20 Tuesday night)
I really liked the Tuesday New York Times puzzle by David Kwong and newcomer Emily Halpern. It was clued easy enough to be a Monday puzzle, but the theme entries are altered phrases and those aren't so Mondayish, so here it is on Tuesday. The constructors took four "Great" things and dampened the enthusiasm for them:
The theme is better than so-so, isn't it? I liked the fill too, though some may frown at all the names of people and places. "INDEED!" is clued as ["For sure!"], and I am fond of indeed's exclamatory usage. "EITHER/OR" is another way of saying ["Take your pick"]. We've got SYNONYMS, [Roget's listings]. Dracula's CLOAKS, CRAFTY, and PSEUDO lend a seamy undercurrent. And OPRAH sort of rhymes with OKRA, which she's sitting atop.
Tom Heilman's New York Sun crossword, "Bakin' Bits," mixes up a quartet of baking-related puns. [Gluten?] represents FLOUR POWER, playing on flower power. DOUGH-EYED (doe-eyed) is [Like someone whose cornea is caked up?]; eww. NOT KNEADED (not needed) is [Without having been pressed or folded?]. And [All there is from crust to crust?] is PURE BREAD (purebred). I appreciate some of the 8-letter fill—the former COMISKEY Park, SOFT SOAP, potatoes AU GRATIN, ERASURES clued as [Disappearing acts?]—but DEW-LADEN ([Moist, in a way]) sounded off. I Googled it and found photos of dew-laden grass and cobwebs and flowers, so I guess I'm off base here. ERIE is clued as [Gannon University's home], and that's a clue I cited in How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle as an example of a tough late-week clue for an common answer like ERIE. What's Gannon University doing here on a Tuesday? Flavor FLAV, the [Rapper with a trademark clock necklace, informally], is my favorite short answer today.
Timothy Meaker's LA Times crossword provides ample PROOF (37-Across) in the theme—the other four theme phrases begin with words that can precede proof.
Favorite entries in the fill: FLEX TIMES, or [Customized work schedules]; LET IT BE, or [Beatles title lyrics after "Whisper words of wisdom"]; and VESPA, the ["Roman Holiday" transport] that's growing more popular these days owing to its gas-sipping ways.
The theme in Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Salon Work," feels like it's referring to an old-lady salon. Each theme entry begins with a salon verb, all clued in the past tense but CUT and SET being non-ED past tenses. TRIMMED THE SAILS ([Adapted to prevailing winds]) and CUT ONE'S LOSSES ([Accepted a bad situation]) include pretty much the same salon function. TEASED THE BOYS, or [Was coquettish], grates a bit as a phrase. Then there's SET A GOOD EXAMPLE ([Modeled good behavior])—I don't know anyone my age or in my mom's generation who gets her hair "set," but my late grandma used to like a "set." I bet she was also more familiar with ICEBOXES, or [Cold compartments].
Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Downgrading," changes letter grades and not in the student's favor:
Favorite clues and answers:
Francis Heaney was on deck for this week's Onion A.V. Club crossword. I don't know how much Francis got paid for this one, but it's lousy with product placements so he should've gotten fees from the advertisers. He imagines four movies (spread across five long entries) whose titles could have been changed to accommodate product placements. A [Michael Jordan movie featuring product placement] might be SPACE SMUCKERS (Space Jam). Aardman's Chicken Run turns into PERDUE RUN. The Pelican Brief sells underwear as THE PELICAN BVD. And Like Water for Chocolate morphs into LIKE EVIAN / FOR NESTLE. Now, that would be a cinematic abomination. Did you know that there's an [Upcoming Sylvester Stallone-directed biopic] called POE? Hmm, my Googling suggests that the lead role hasn't even been cast yet. Never heard of ART BRUT, the ["It's a Bit Complicated" band]. MR. PEEPERS, the [Classic sitcom starring Wally Cox], aired in the early '50s. It also appears to be the name of a porn website. I love little hits of highly specific pop culture, like [She dated Keith Hernandez and David Puddy, among others] for ELAINE from Seinfeld. Although I should clarify: Specific pop culture trivia from before my time is not fun at all.
July 28, 2008