(updated at 9:15 Friday morning)
Joe Krozel's got another New York Times crossword a week after his last one. This time it's a 72-word themeless in which just 20 of the words are 7 letters or longer. When the word count's 68 to 72, I like to see some crazy fill—really fresh phrases, a preponderance of Scrabbly letters, that sort of thing. This puzzle didn't go as far in that direction as I'd've hoped.
Here's the stuff I liked:
There's an emphasis on the first person here. I'M LATE ([Cry from the White Rabbit]), SO I ["___ hear"], I SEE NOW (["Oh, so that's it"]), and GOT ME (["I haven't the foggiest!"]).
Less obvious clues:
This is the second time that Peter Gordon has given us two days in a row of themeless Sun puzzles. Does this mean that more than 20% of the puzzles Peter had accepted before the New York Sun folded were themeless, and maybe we'll have some more 40% themeless weeks? I hope so!
Karen Tracey's "Weekend Warrior" is a 70-worder with two double-stacks of 15's bound together by SANDRA BULLOCK, who [played Harper Lee in "Infamous"]. The 15's include a GENEROUS MEASURE of FROZEN DAIQUIRIS, The THREE FACES OF EVE, and the ALASKAN KING CRAB the crab boats are catching on Deadliest Catch (it's a dangerous job, though far more of the fishing crews survive than the crabs). Highlights besides the long babies:
Michael Ashley's Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, "Heavenly Bodies," isn't about astronomy. It's about SATAN and his angels, written about in Paradise Lost by John MILTON. Next Tuesday is Milton's 400th BDAY (35-Down). I seem to recall taking a 5-week class devoted to Paradise Lost, but I'm not the most attentive reader because I got some of those angel names strictly from the crossings. They're MAMMON and MOLOCH, GABRIEL and URIEL, BELIAL and RAPHAEL, and the crowd favorite, BEELZEBUB. All of these theme entries are placed in symmetrical locations in the grid. My favorite clue: [Swiped item?] for ATM CARD.
Randolph Ross's Wall Street Journal crossword is called "Job De-Scriptions," and each theme entry is a made-up phrase in which a word that has to do with a particular job is placed into a DE___ED slot before the job name. Does that make sense? Here are some examples:
A reporter works as part of the press, so an [Unhappy newspaper worker?] is a DEPRESSED REPORTER. Is she depressed because she's been de-pressed?
[Hardworking candidate?] is a DEVOTED POLITICIAN. Is she devoted, or is she working hard to regain a seat she was de-voted from? (See N. CAR., [Sen. Dole's state], for instance!)
I don't quite know if the de___ing is intended to suggest negation of the ___ word. Because a DELIGHTED ARSONIST wouldn't be a [Pleased pyromaniac?], would he? If the light has been taken away, wouldn't the arsonist be frustrated? But "pleased" means DELIGHTED. So...I'm not quite sure how this theme works.
James Sajdak's LA Times crossword changes a U to an O in each theme entry:
I'm not sure why 6-Across is SAE, [MS. enclosure], rather than SHE. H-BOMB would be as sound as A-BOMB, clued as [Los Alamos project]. Other clues: A [Foretopman, e.g.] is a SAILOR; new word for me in the clue. The [English poet laureate, 1790-1813] was PYE; don't know him. [Musical motif, to Mascagni] is the Italian word TEMA.
Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy crossword, "T for Two," has a very basic theme: two-word phrases with T.T. initials. There's no Ted Turner or taste test this time, but there are six other phrases:
Hostess HO HOS are an [Alternative to Twinkies], and the ingredients no longer include animal fat. Vegetarians take note: The Ho Hos I had last month were tiny and dry. Overall, the filling is quite smooth in this puzzle—less so in the snack cakes.
December 04, 2008