What a treat—themeless crosswords from a long established master of the form, Frank Longo, and a newer hotshot, Mike Nothnagel.
Mike's puzzle is the New York Times one, and he's loaded it with some delightful fill. There's some knotty stuff, as you expect for a late-week puzzle, but nothing beyond the pale. Here are the incandescent answers:
Things I did not know:
Yeah, I liked this crossword a lot. LUCY VAN PELT! She lights up the grid, she does. I'd actually just been wondering the other day why we hadn't seen a Mikey N. creation for a while, and here 'tis.
I've got to be quick about blogging Frank's Sun crossword, a "Weekend Warrior" (yay! two themeless Suns in a row this week!), because two DVRed TV shows are waiting for me and they're getting impatient. This grid contains two completely unfamiliar answers—CATAMARCA, the [Argentine province or its capital], and CALMA, clued with ["Ridente la ___" (Mozart song)]. The second C in CATAMARCA crossed the [Jailer in Beethoven's "Fidelio"], ROCCO—I think he was in another crossword in the last year, also with a crazy crossing, and some people had opted for ROSCO instead.
Favorite clues and answers:
Once again, I had trouble tuning into the Friday LA Times crossword's wavelength. I didn't get the feeling that Gail Grabowski's clues were really hard, and the fill is all straightforward—it was a quasi-"Saturday Stumper"-esque experience of missing the point of the clues. (Sigh.)
The theme entries insert an O to change a phrase's meaning:
Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy puzzle, "It's Just a Phase," starts each theme entry with a phase of the MOON (67-Across). NEW ENGLAND is [Where Patriots are revered]. CRESCENT ROLL is a sort of [Bent bread]. The QUARTERHORSE is an [Animal raised to run 1,320 feet] on a racetrack. [Back to the start] means FULL CIRCLE, and the phases of the moon—from new to crescent, quarter, ("waxing gibbous" omitted from the theme), and finally full go full circle. Or they do when they pass through waning gibbous to the other quarter and crescent before returning to a new moon. Favorite clue: [Work on a wall?] for ART mounted on a wall.
Todd McClary's Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, "Polymath," has a cool theme. Familiar phrases that start with numbers and share the same noun are paired and subjected to arithmetic operations, and the theme answer is the result:
Isn't that a fun game?
Mike Shenk constructed this week's Wall Street Journal crossword under the pen name Judith Seretto. The title is "Small Investments" because the word WEE is invested in each theme entry. For example, CB radio is short for Citizens' Band, which takes on a WEE to read CITIZENS BAN WEED, or [Headline about an antipot referendum?]. The Dark Knight becomes THE DARK WEEKNIGHT, or [Moonless Monday, perhaps?]. This one's the best of all the theme entries, if you ask me. Plenty of interesting clues and fill here, too.
December 11, 2008