second Sunday acrostic: untimed but average difficulty
(post updated at 1:45 Sunday afternoon)
The NYT's second Sunday puzzle is an acrostic by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon. I won't get into the quote, just one of the clues—[Chicago entertainment district] feels decades out of date to me as an UPTOWN resident. The section of the Uptown Wikipedia article about the "Uptown Entertainment District" smacks of boosterism more than realism. The Green Mill is still a jazz club, and the Aragon Ballroom and Riviera Theatre host concerts, but the other places are mostly vacant or torn down and I wouldn't call it an "entertainment district." It's rather blighted, actually, where those venues are. Googling Uptown entertainment district scared up a blog post entitled "Uptown Entertainment District?" about a folk singer who lives in an SRO hotel and sings outside the Wilson El stop. To make sure I wasn't off base about this clue, I asked my mom and husband to name a 6-letter Chicago entertainment district, and they were both stumped and then laughed when I gave the answer.
The Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle by Peter Collins and Joe Krozel is called "Off With Their Heads!" The theme entries are easy to fill in once you've got half of an answer, as the 13- and 15-letter answers contain duplicated swaths of letters:
Fun little word game, isn't it? And now, quickly because I've got to go out for dinner, clues of note:
Mike Peluso's syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, "KP Duty," groups together eight two-word phrases in which the first word ends with K and the second starts with P. A [Diver's choice], for example, is TUCK POSITION. [Lowest enlisted rank] is BUCK PRIVATE. [66-Down cause, maybe] is BLACK PEPPER. Before I saw that 66-Down was ACHOO, I had BLACKP***** and wondered how 66-Down would tie in with the BLACK PLAGUE. This type of theme tends to be on the easy side, because once you've figured out how the theme works, you know each theme answer contains a KP spanning two words. I do prefer themes with some sort of wordplay rather than a commonality like this.
Merl Reagle tells an agricultural story in "Farming It Out," his Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle for this weekend. The dozen theme entries (plus EIEIO as a bonus) relate parts of a business tale using quasi-farm-related idioms such as SEED MONEY, CHICKEN FEED, and "THAT AIN'T HAY." Not only is this a lot of theme entries (granted, some are on the short side), but at the top and bottom of the grid, there's some theme-answer stacking, as is Merl's wont. The grid's a little ugly with those black squares in all four corners, but Merl is his own editor and Merl doesn't turn down Merl's puzzles for structural reasons like that. If the point of a crossword is to entertain, Merl is one of the best at doing that, week in and week out.
Henry Hook's syndicated Boston Globe crossword, "Over and Under," plunders the thesaurus for various words, phrases, and statements that can mean [Over] or [Under]. There are five of each, and they all run in the Down direction—with the [Over]s directly above the [Under]s. Challenging theme to fill out, I thought, but not particularly fun. The overs are IN EXCESS OF, CONCLUDED, REPEATEDLY, "I AWAIT REPLY," and THROUGHOUT. The unders are DOWNSTAIRS, NOT AS MUCH AS, BURDENED BY, LOWER THAN, and HYPNOTIZED. The clue [N.Y.C.-vs.-Chi. argument cause] seemed to signal an abbreviation in the answer, but no: it's PIZZA, of course. That was my favorite clue, along with [Changing time?] for PUBERTY. Plenty of tough-as-nails answers here: [Old name in Turkish taffy] is BONOMO, crossing IVANOVO, a [Russian textile city]. The latter touches AMBERY, or [Dark orange-yellow]. Below that is RHETOR, a [Skilled speaker] sharing its last three letters with ORATOR. TIROS are [Novices (var.)], and they cross RODRIGO, [Baritone in Verdi's "Don Carlos"]. And DAGMAR the ["Dumb blond" of 1950s TV]? I've seen her in a couple crosswords over the years.
I'll get to the CrosSynergy themeless in a couple hours. Saving the best (i.e., the kind of puzzle I enjoy the most) for last!
Will Johnston's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge" was indeed fun for me. HIs 68-word grid has corners of 7's with a spiraling net of 11's joining them together. I had a lot of favorite answers in this one:
August 02, 2008