(updated at 11 a.m. Wednesday)
David Kahn, the master of the timely tribute puzzle, crafted the Wednesday New York Times crossword to honor MICHAEL PHELPS (36-Across). Running vertically across his name, like a few lanes in the Olympic pool, are three 15-letter theme answers, and the central one is bracketed by an additional two 6-letter theme entries:
Yep, that's about the size of it. Notable non-theme fill:
Fill that's less desirable, but facilitated a smooth theme:
The New York Sun crossword may mark the debut of constructor Daniel Finan. In the "Oppositely" theme, phrases with adverbs are reinterpreted as if the adverb has a meaning opposite to the adjective that follows. To wit:
Unfamiliar journeys through chemistry: BAY OIL is a [Perfume aromatic], and [Urethane, e.g.] is an ESTER.
Well, the Cruciverb.com link I usually use to download the CrosSynergy puzzle worked just fine today—just in time for my brain to shut down. I was slow to grasp the theme, slow to grasp the clues, and likely to assign clues to the wrong direction. Bob Klahn's "Bag of Tricks" theme includes four phrases that begin with words that can precede trick:
The fill here includes many 7-letter answers and a pair of non-thematic 8's, and overall the cluing is on the hard/Klahnian side. I have never encountered IDUNIT before. Clued as [First-person mystery?], one definition is "an autobiographical or confessional account usually of a sensational character." The first letter crosses ICE SHOW; camels are some sort of ice-skating move, so [Where to see camels] is an ICE SHOW. (Not an answer that was coming to me quickly.) I like POSADA, or [Tijuana tavern], because way back before the Taco Bell and Pepe's chains sprawled Mexican food all over the nation, my family used to go to a place called La Posada. Whether it was authentic, I don't know, but we loved the tortilla chips. They were exotic. Ah, the '70s.
Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword has the same sort of theme as the Klahn, only with the unifying word included in the grid rather than the title (LA Times dailies don't have titles) and the key words ending (not beginning) each theme entry.
I like a lot of the fill here. Much of it's got that Scrabbly zing—there are four J's, a Z and Q, and a pair of K's. B.J. THOMAS, the ["Hooked on a Feeling" singer], offers a blast from the '70s and a little of that J goodness.
Tyler Hinman's Onion A.V. Club crossword has another variant on the theme type used in the Klahn and Naddor puzzles. The late HBO hit series THE WIRE is the anchor, and the four theme entries begin with words that can precede wire:
Favorite clues: [The devil's preferred label?] for PRADA (as in the book and movie, The Devil Wore Prada), and [Frustum-shaped candies] for ROLOS. Things I didn't know:
In Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Cuts Together," each theme entry combines two haircuts and clues them in a way unrelated to tonsorial action:
I love a lot of the fill and clues, For example, BLUBBER is clued as the [Judy Blume novel about bullying]. ELLEN and Portia de ROSSI are joined in cruciverbal matrimony in the upper left corner. There's [One-named singer] BJORK and a CHAKRA, JOCOSE or [Good-humored], and slangy PERV crossing both PISSED ([Steaming] mad) and ORGASMS ([Lay missions?]) in the section that announces "This is not your grandmother's crossword puzzle." I do have to dock Ben a few points for including BOB, or [Try for apples], when a theme entry includes BOB.
September 02, 2008