(updated at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday)
Happy Labor Day! May your labors be few (but not unemploymentally so), your skies clear, and your barbecues free of all foodborne pathogens.
The New York Times crossword is a solo outing from Andrea Carla Michaels, who is one of those early-week specialists. As expected for a Monday, the theme is basic and straightforward, the clues are pretty easy, and the fill combines plenty of plain language with a handful of crosswordy answers that a beginning solver will soon learn all about. The theme answers all relate to hushing, but I don't quite get why the clues are worded as they are. SILENCE IS GOLDEN is ["Shhhh!" prompter]. Doesn't "Silence is golden" replace a "Shhh!" rather than prompting one? MUM'S THE WORD is clued with ["Shhhh!"]. That's "Shhh"! as in "Don't tell anyone" rather than "Be quiet." MY LIPS ARE SEALED is a ["Shhh!" response]—again, more of an "I'll keep your secret" than "Ooh, I better be quiet because she shushed me." I don't know how well these three theme clues and answers cohere, but hey, it's a Monday puzzle and the phrases are so familiar, there's no need to overthink it.
One of my favorite clues is [Like oranges and tangerines] for CITRUS. (Anyone else try CITRIC first? No?) Andrea just says "no" in two answers: NO SALE is a [Key on an old register], as in cash register, and NO RUSH means ["Take your time"]. There are 15 other 6-letter answers in this grid, which makes the fill feel a bit fresher than if there was a greater preponderance of 3- to 5-letter answers.
Here's a Crosswords 101 lesson. Study the following crosswordy items, which you will be quizzed on later in other crosswords:
Anyone know where the CrosSynergy puzzles have been hiding? I know this page offers an online applet and a printable option, but I want my Across Lite, dagnabbit! I especially want yesterday's themeless crossword.
The LA Times crossword by Joe DiPietro has six theme entries beginning with _AKE words:
The symmetry in this group of phrases is that the middle two Acrosses are verb-ONE'S-noun, the two bracketing them are verb-THE-noun, and the two Downs are verb-A-noun. The theme does not exhaust all the possibilities, though. BAKE COOKIES and SLAKE ONE'S THIRST could fit into a grid, but not within the bounds of the paired structures here. (I can't think of a good phrase that starts with BRAKE, though.]
Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword is called "I'm Surrounded by Idiots" because the theme entries are various "idiots" with extra letters in their midst:
I like the vocabulary word in the fill: OROTUND means [Sonorous]. ZANZIBARI's two Z's are zesty—it's clued as [Resident of the island where Freddie Mercury was born]. I didn't know the Queen front man was from Zanzibar. Hell, when I was a kid, I had no idea he was gay, either. Or the Village People. *whoosh* over my head.
Updated Tuesday morning:
Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle is called "Location, Location, Location" because the location of the words in the clue is key.
August 31, 2008