(updated at 2:20 p.m. Monday)
The Monday New York Times crossword hits the Monday sweet spot—nice and easy, with an accessible letter-progression theme of phrases that sound great together (the P and K sounds are inherently entertaining). Andrea Carla Michaels and Michael Blake teamed up to give us:
All this makes me want to say "Peter Piper packed a punch when picking a peck of puckered-up peppers. Then he purchased a pack of Pocky Sticks." My favorite fill mostly revisits the P and K: STUNK and SKIMPY, a PONZI scheme ([Kind of scheme that's fraudulent]), POPS and PUTTS.
Mark Feldman's New York Sun crossword, "Military Medicine," has an elegant but still easy theme: phrases that begin with a military rank and describe something related to medical care.
Favorite entries: POP-UP AD, Christopher MELONI (only because it gives me a chance to call him a Fanelli boy), BELARUS and NEBULAS sharing six of their letters, and gaping MAWS.
Paula Gamache packs her CrosSynergy puzzle, "E-ZPass," with five theme entries (each containing EZ welding together two words) and a slew of 7-letter answers in the fill. The STRIKE ZONE is a [Pitcher's target]. WOWIE ZOWIE is an [Expression of glee]. EMILE ZOLA, whose writing is stark and richly detailed, is clued as the ["J'accuse" author]. The [Traditional marmalade ingredient] is ORANGE ZEST; I'm partial to this answer. [1960s group who sang "She's Not There"] is THE ZOMBIES. WOWIE ZOWIE and THE ZOMBIES make this a fun theme, don't they?
I liked a lot of the clues and fill here (and it's only Monday!). My favorites:
David Cromer's LA Times crossword was so easy, I filled in all four theme answers immediately after filling in 5- to 8-Down. The theme entries are plural nouns that begin with a man's nickname:
I wonder if I could have finished the puzzle even faster if I'd gone back to the top after entering the theme answers, rather than navigating my way up from the bottom. Is top-down solving markedly more efficient?
Matt Jones's newest Jonesin' crossword, "Flippin' Sweet," has three theme entries of different lengths, so the grid has left/right symmetry. It took me a while with my head flipped over to understand the theme clues:
Sweet! If you didn't notice, the three theme entries all describe the reversal aspect. Can you imagine if the clues and answers had been swapped? Would you ever come up with Je9ns or sa>le) as an answer for a straightforward-looking clue? The theme's complemented by zippy fill—YUPPIE, SQUAWK, YAKUZA, ELWOOD from Blues Brothers—and clues. My favorite, for its '80s musical nostalgia, is [They're pulled from the shell, in a Squeeze song title] for MUSSELS.
August 24, 2008