Yay! Another themeless crossword from Karen Tracey, this time in the New York Times. Like many of Karen's confections, this one contains a lot of Scrabbly letters (three J's, a Q, three K's), pop culture, people's names, and a little geography. Let's start with my favorite entries:
There were lots of other people and characters in the grid:
I know a lot of people grumble when a crossword contains a slew of names, but I'm glad Will Shortz is willing to strike a balance and publish this sort of puzzle on occasion to delight those of us who love it.
clock bell in London, [Big ___] BEN.
Other favorite clues and answers I want to mention:
[Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to the stars?] are LEOS, astrologically. Hey, me too!
Doug Peterson's themeless LA Times puzzle duped me with that [Type of trail] fitting a *AP*R pattern. A PAPER trail, right? Nope, it's a VAPOR trail. Another trouble spot was [Taken out, as refrigerators], which made no sense to me. UNCRATED = taken out of a crate? Yeah, that works. [Products of hydrocarbon combustion] are OXIDES, but rust is an oxide and I don't think combustion is involved in rusting. Chemistry's not my strong suit, so I'm not familiar with all the ways of making oxides.
Favorite clues and answers:
For me, today's easiest themeless was Dan Stark's Newsday "Saturday Stumper." (Solution PDF here). The clue that took me off guard was [Temperaments, so to speak] for KIDNEYS. Say what? Who speaks that way? It's in the dictonary, but I've never encountered that usage before. I wonder if it dates back to when people talked about their humors (blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile) as if they affected personality traits.
Favorite and/or gnarliest clues:
Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy crossword is a "Paul Newman Tribute." The legendary actor Paul Newman died about four weeks ago, and his passing definitely merits a crossword made in tribute to him. The theme entries are three 15-letter movies for which Newman was nominated for an Oscar. Newman was in many other notable movies of varying letter counts: Hud (3), Cars (4), Blaze (5), Exodus (6), The Sting and Slap Shot (8), The Verdictand The Hustler (10), Nobody's Fool (11), Cool Hand Luke (12), and some longer titles. That's a lot of material, though mostly not bunched in same-length pairs—I wonder if anyone's been working on a Sunday-sized tribute to Paul Newman's career.
October 24, 2008