(updated at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday)
The big news in the crossword biz is that the New York Sun is ceasing publication after tomorrow. So the Tuesday Sun puzzle will be the last published under that paper's auspices. The good news is that Peter Gordon had already accepted about 5½ months' worth of crosswords, and we'll be able to access them for a nominal fee. Stay tuned for details about where to get the crosswords and how to pay your pittance for the privilege. I'll continue blogging about the puzzles.
I forgot to notice the theme in Allan Parrish's New York Times puzzle until after I finished it. The theme is diner seating options, the counter, a booth, or a table:
Me, I like a booth. I also like how much longer fill there is in this puzzle—with just three theme answers, there's space for interesting stuff outside the theme. HYDE PARK is, among other things, [Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthplace]. AMARETTO is that [Almond-flavored liqueur] that comes to mind whenever I see the word amoretto. The upper left and lower right corners of the grid are pretty wide-open, with those theme entries intersecting a trio of 6's and a 9-letter answer. I'd say more, but I'm watching Heroes and it's awfully distracting.
Matt Ginsberg's New York Sun swan song is called "Eight Is Enough" because the answers in it contain only eight of the 26 letters, those in the word notaries. (These letters are sometimes held to be the most commonly used in the English language.) The theme is explained in the clue for 15-Across, NINE, or [One more than the number of different letters in this puzzle]. Well, the fill isn't at all Scrabbly, that's for sure. Working by hand, I imagine this puzzle would be mighty challenging to construct—but Matt has some sort of intricate database of crossword entries, and I would guess he had a computer do much of the heavy lifting. Matt, would you care to tell us how it played out?
Once I figured out the theme in Jennifer Nutt's LA Times crossword, I really liked it—it evokes a LONG WEEKEND. Mind you, the clue for that entry spells out the theme clearly, but in an easy puzzle, I don't always read every clue, especially a long one: [Break suggested by the first three letters of 18-, 23-, 51- and 57-Across]. Those four answers are:
There's one clue that has become factually inaccurate in recent days. Is WAMU still a [BofA competitor]? Poor WaMu.
Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily's CrosSynergy crossword, "Talking a Good Game," centers on an "observation": AFTER ALL IS SAID / AND DONE, A LOT MORE / IS SAID THAN DONE. True enough, that. I rather like the entry GOES BOOM, clued as [Explodes, to a kid]. I also like the potato pair: a COUCH is a [Place for a potato?], while IDAHO is a [Place for potatoes?] in the plural.
Byron Walden's Onion A.V. Club crossword for this week is horribly rude (...not that there's anything so wrong with that), as each theme entry tells you where you can get off—at least, those imprecations are found at the beginning of each of those phrases.
In the fill, there are eight 8- and 9-letter answers, including slangy SCHMOOZES (clued as [Shoots the shit]) beside SKEEZIEST ([Superlative for a flasher], and no, I don't wish to contemplate the very skeeziest of the flashers). Two full names that are likely brand-new as crossword answers are BOB NEY, the [Former Ohio congressman released from prison in August 2008], and MACK BROWN, the [Coach of the 2005 NCAA football champion Texas Longhorns]. Guess which one of the two I've heard of?
Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Covered in Spots," is covered in advertising spots. That is, each theme entry has an AD added to it, changing the gist:
Favorite clues and answers aside from the theme: NBA JAM, the [arcade basketball game that failed to include Michael Jordan]; [Place with millions of inhabitants at the time of its "discovery"] for AMERICA; AUDRA, or [Actress Lindley of "Three's Company"] for a '70s TV nostalgia hit (she played Mrs. Roper, of course); and stale ol' STYE with a non-eye clue, [Sebaceous gland problem], that pointed right towards ACNE (hey, when's the last time a STYE clue wasn't a gimme?).
September 29, 2008