(updated just past 9 Friday morning)
Mike Nothnagel's themeless New York Times crossword is simply a delight. There were so many entries I loved:
Other stuff in Mike's deftly constructed puzzle:
It's late and I haven't even peeked at Obama's speech yet, so maybe I'll be quick about this. The New York Sun puzzle by Peter Collins, "Four Corners," plunks two N's, an A, and an O in the corners of the grid. Reading them clockwise, they yield a word no matter where you start, and those four rotating words serve as the clues for the theme answers, which are essentially clues for those short corner words:
Inventive theme, with the corner letters constraining the overall fill while providing more oomph than the puzzle would have if those 4-letter words were handed to us in the clues. Not just oomph, but also more challenge, and when it comes to themed Friday Sun crosswords, challenge is the order of the day.
Favorite answers and clues:
Myles Callum's Wall Street Journal crossword, "Double Dealing," is—like last week's—considerably easier than a Sunday NYT. I hope it's just coincidence and not an intentional dilution of the difficulty level. The theme entries follow the title's model: seven two-word phrases in which both words start with D. I'd never heard of the DIME DEFENSE, or [Pass-stopping strategy], and don't know which sport it applies to. The other theme entries are:
Overall, the fill and cluing struck a good balance between smart and fun. Favorite entries included DUDE RANCH, ALITALIA (plus GIANNI Versace and Lake GARDA, also from Italy), JAFAR the ["Aladdin" villain] from Disney, and the women's zone about 40% of the way down the grid (LINDAS, SARA, ADA, MADAME, MARGE).
Doug Peterson's LA Times crossword inserts an "ancient equivalent" of TEN to craft the theme entries, each of which adds an X to the first of two words in a phrase. The results are entertaining:
Doug has plenty of juicy fill in this puzzle—a delicious SKOR bar, Colonel KLINK, BETELGEUSE, HAN SOLO, a MOOCOW. PLEXIGLASS is clued as [Aquarium material, generically]. I believe the trade name is Plexiglas, but plexiglass has a slight edge in Google hits. I think the namer who came up with Plexiglas should have used two S's, unless they were targeting the German market. (Similarly, the X-Acto knife people should've just called it the Exacto knife. At least the Kleenex and Xerox people chose spellings that people don't routinely alter.)
Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Po'Pourri," adds PO (the red Teletubby?) to four phrases and clues the resulting theme entries:
UNCURL is clued as [Straighten, as hair], and it sounded off to me. It is indeed a proper word, though. Favorite entry: DIVE-BOMB, or [Attack from overhead]. I'm not quite sure why this puzzle took me a bit longer than most CrosSynergy crosswords—is it just me?
August 28, 2008