(post updated at 9:19 a.m. Friday)
I know getting three silver medals isn't as good as winning the gold, but wouldn't it have been nice to clue 43-Down in Kevin Der's New York Times crossword as [41-year-old Olympic medalist Dara], in the singular, rather than the plural [Baseball's Joe and others] for TORRES? In a 60-word puzzle, you expect some compromises such as pluralized names, but it was entirely unnecessary in this case. The grid features triple-stacked 15-letter answers at the top and bottom, with INTERLEAGUE PLAY ([All-Star Game, e.g.]) the highlight. Know what else? This grid breaks Manny Nosowsky's 3/11/05 record of 19 black squares by one. Congrats to Kevin on immortalizing himself as Mr. 18, at least until someone manages to make one with 17. This is not the sort of record that solvers generally get exercised about, as most of them won't notice and the black-square count does nothing to enhance a puzzle's entertainment quotient.
The first wrong turn I made in this puzzle came right above that, where I assumed the answer to [It has 33 letters] would end in ALPHABET. Nope, it's the RUSSIAN LANGUAGE...though I think the 33 letters aspect more specifically clues an alphabet. Favorite clues and answers:
The tradeoffs for the black-square count include the following, which may mystify or irk some solvers:
Karen Tracey's New York Sun "Weekend Warrior," on the other hand, contains 70 words and 28 black squares. It breaks no records and wins no prizes other than smiles. It's got a few weird answers, but four of the five long answers were captivating:
Favorite clues and entries:
The weirdest answer was GRIPPY, or [Afflicted with the flu]—this is the adjectival form of grippe, the old-fashioned word for influenza. Note the etymology: related to claw and seize. If you've had the flu, you've been in the grips of its cruel talons.
We've got DVRed Olympics on the TV right now. In the 110m hurdles, a Cuban runner won the gold medal, with Americans taking the silver and bronze. The two Americans exulted together, and the silver medalist said to the camera: "We're number one! Number one!" That's a...healthy self-regard. Rather a loose grasp on reality, but definitely a healthy self-regard.
Harvey Estes' Wall Street Journal crossword, "Alternative Rock," is pretty easy. The five theme entries are phrases that end with STONE, only that word has been anagrammed into another word and the resulting phrase is clued accordingly.
The puzzle's got a fair number of colloquial-language entries—"YOU'RE ON," and...well, I can't find the others. But I swear they were there. My favorite pairing was [Word shouted at church] for AMEN...and then the next section over, the same clue also meant BINGO.
The theme in Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword may be hard to describe clearly. The theme entries are people's names altered my appending the first letter of the last name to the end of the first name, which might be hard to hear when spoken aloud but changes the spelling of the first name, as name + an L sound creates a homophonic word. Clear as mud, right? Examples will work better:
Other clues and entries of note:
Tom Schier's CrosSynergy crossword, "Red Alert," gathers together various red things in the clues for the three 15-letter theme answers. [Reds and Red Sox] are BASEBALL PLAYERS. [Red-eye] is an OVERNIGHT FLIGHT. And [Redcoats] were BRITISH SOLDIERS. One clue kept me wondering for a while—regular crossword denizen ONER was clued [Nonesuch]. That's "a person or thing that is regarded as perfect or excellent." Those Olympic Games, they sure had a lot of oners! I wonder if anyone thinks a PAPAW, or [Custard apple], is a oner.
August 21, 2008