Short and late blogging night—it's debate night! (Longer write-up of the Sun puzzle, which I tackled before the debate started.)
The New York Times crossword was constructed by someone whose name I don't recognize. A debut for Ian Tullis? If so, congratulations! The theme isn't particularly Thursdayish, but the overall difficulty is just past Wednesdayish. The theme is EXPANSION TEAMS, and three baseball teams are "expanded" by the insertion of an extra letter:
Favorite answers: BEESWAX, or [Affairs, slangily]; ENTOMOLOGY, or [Buggy field?]; THE SAUCE, or [Alcohol, slangily]; LONE RANGER, or [Silver topper?]; IXNAY], or ["Uh-uh"]; and SPERM (!), clued as [Kind of whale]. Lots of goodies sandwiched in around those theme entries, yes?
The Sun crossword (which I was able to retrieve by going to the Sun archive page and having the 10/16 puzzle e-mailed to me) is by Robert Doll. It's called "Four Letter Words," but the 4-letter words in the grid are immaterial. The title instead refers to four words that are represented by single letters (and appear twice in each theme phrase): U GET WHAT U PAY FOR stands in for "you get what you pay for." FROM C TO SHINING C swaps C for "sea." "Be" becomes B in B THERE OR B SQUARE. And the stealth theme entry is the 5-letter Down answer in the middle of the grid, I I SIR—with I standing in for "aye."
There are plenty of cool answers in this crossword. BRAILLE is [on Alabama's state quarter], along with Helen Keller. Eugene IONESCO is the ["Rhinoceros" playwright] whose work we studied in a "Plays and Antiplays" lit class. (Please don't ask me to define an antiplay.) The BRONZE AGE is notable because [The wheel was invented during it]; that Z intersects the [Pez product] SOURZ that I haven't seen. The [Jack worth one point in cribbage] is called HIS NOBS. Is this akin to his nibs, or are the two separate terms? Favorite clue: [Prescriptivist's concern] for USAGE. (We've been chatting about prescriptivism at the "Language, Etymology, Grammar" board at the Crossword Fiend forums.)
Hmm, the LA Times crossword doesn't seem to be posted in Across Lite at Cruciverb yet.
Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Now See Here," hits at about a Monday level of difficulty. The three theme entries have the same one-word clue, though one adds punctuation: [See] clues both DATE REGULARLY and GET THE PICTURE, while ["See!"] clues "WHAT DID I TELL YOU?" Among the longish non-thematic answers in the puzzle are LEXICONS, or [Dictionaries]; GARY PLAYER, the [US Open winner of 1965] in golf; ITAR-TASS, a [Russian news source] (most often, just half of its name is in the grid and the other half sits in the clue); DYNAMITE, clued loosely as [It's a blast].
Now the Los Angeles Times crossword's available in Across Lite. Donna Levin's theme is similar to the one in today's CrosSynergy puzzle—four phrases are all clued with the same word, this time [Swell]. There's the verb phrase BECOME BLOATED. There's the slangy adjective GINGER-PEACHY, which sounds frightfully quaint. I've never heard it before, but apparently "ginger-peachy-keen" had its heyday once. The CLOTHES HORSE is a noun phrase, as is a CRESTLESS WAVE. Only the second and fourth of these answers qualifies as a stand-alone piece of crossword fill, but this type of theme often includes theme entries that would normally be seen as clues for SWELL rather than answers for [Swell]. (That makes sense, doesn't it?) I had no idea that [Bill Maher's film debut, in which he played a hack] was D.C. CAB, but that was the first answer I put in the grid. How many 5-letter movies involve "hacks," or cab drivers?
Clues of note:
October 15, 2008