Andrea Carla Michaels and Michael Blake have teamed up again for a Monday New York Times crossword puzzle. The theme is 55-Down, SPIN—they've put an SP at the beginning of three 13-letter phrases to convert them into 15-letter phrases:
I have the sense that most themes involving question-marked clues for nonexistent phrases don't manage to have such simple clues. This trio is short and sweet, with two-word clues conveying all the sense they need to. There are a number of answers that new solvers need to commit to memory if they don't already know them:
The Sun crossword is called "The Old College Try" and it was constructed by Joon Pahk. Three theme entries end with IVY LEAGUERS. The band KING CRIMSON corresponds to the Harvard team, the Crimson. HEY BULLDOG is a [Song on the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" album], but I've never heard of it. You know how Yale students are in the crossword all the time as ELIS or YALIEs? Their official nickname is the Bulldogs. The Princeton Tigers show up in PAPER TIGER. It's a little distracting to have another team name in the grid—Whittier College's bad-ass POETS, not of the Ivy League. I like how the '80s band ERASURE sits beneath KING CRIMSON. (Wikipedia tells me Erasure is still recording and touring. Who knew?) Favorite clue: [Strong suit?] for ARMOR.
Matt Jones has crafted a puzzle with an unusual gimmick in it. This week's Jonesin' crossword, "Early and Often," includes a ballot of sorts, and instructions to MARK AN X for whichever one YOU PICK. Each "candidate" entry is 14 letters long—FIRST CANDIDATE, ANOTHER NOMINEE, and THE THIRD OPTION—but appears with a blank 15th square (those 15th squares are supposed to be circled, but the circles were missing when I downloaded the Across Lite version of the puzzle). If you X in one of those squares, you change the crossing word, but the answer will be correct with or without the X:
Sarah Keller's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Have a Good Time!", has five different "good times" at the start of the theme entries. One [Pome variety], and a tasty one at that, is a GALA APPLE. SOCIAL WORK is a [Profession intent on improving living conditions. One [Joint type] is BALL AND SOCKET, as in your hip and shoulder. A RAVE REVIEW is a [Pan's opposite]. And a PARTY LINE is a [Tie-in to another telephone customer, as well as a tie-in to this puzzle's theme]. I wonder if anyone younger than me has first-hand experience with party lines—when I was a kid, my grandparents had a party line, and they gave out their phone number prefix as HEmlock-7 rather than 437. Old school!
Updated Monday night:
Well, the LA Times crossword hadn't been posted as of lunchtime today, and after it was posted, I didn't get a chance to solve it before late evening. Robert Morris's theme is PAPER, which precedes the first word of each of the four theme entries:
One of the 8-letter answers in the fill was unfamiliar. RANGE WAR is clued as a [Big beef over big beef?]. Wikipedia explains that range wars can also involve sheep herding and water rights.
October 26, 2008