Three cheers for President-elect Obama! He announced his pick for Secretary of Education today, and it's Arne Duncan from the Chicago Public Schools. While many Chicagoans, especially those of us with kids in the public schools, will miss him, how nice that a guy named ARNE is becoming nationally prominent. Who will be the first crossword constructor to let this ARNE bail her out of a tight corner?
Gail Grabowski's New York Times puzzle hits the usual Tuesday difficulty level—pretty darned easy, but a notch tougher than a Monday. There are three theme entries whose ends are labeled by a fourth long answer:
There's a whole row in this puzzle that can be read backwards—STRAW TIDE PETS is STEP EDIT WARTS backwards. Good stuff in the grid: A [Standby passenger's salvation] is a NO-SHOW at the airline gate. A 'VETTE is a [Sporty Chevy, for short]. (The Corvette and the Ford Mustang are good arguments for a Big Three bailout.) HOT DOG is clued as an exclamation synonymous with ["Oh, goody!"]. BAD PRESS is [Unwanted publicity]. [Enough, for some] clues ONCE; Jacqueline Susann is on record as saying that once is decidedly not enough.
Kelsey Blakley's Sun puzzle is called "Out of Order" because the first two letters in each theme entry are out of order:
In the fill, the comparative CORNIER is clued as [More banal, as a joke]. Doesn't this make you want to pronounce HOOSIER ([Indiana native]) with an extra syllable? Hoosier, more hoosy. I was stymied by the clue [X tenth?], for which the answer is PIN—on a bowling score sheet, X is a strike, or 10 pins. Right below PIN is UNI, which is the Latin-derived prefix that means one, which is a tenth of the Roman numeral X, but I suppose it would have been hard to link UNI to X in the clue.
Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword this week is a themeless one with the title, "Letters Entertain You." Matt puts his own stamp on a themeless. The grid has triple-stacked 10's intersecting with another triple-stacked set of 10's in two of the corners, and some of those 10's are absolutely fabulous. Kickass entries include the following:
Now, I can envision a themeless crossword in one of the weekend editions of a daily newspaper that would include a few of these answers, but usually we don't get such a wealth of fresh and fun stuff in a single puzzle. Favorite clues:
Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy crossword, "Moving Along," progresses from one to four clue words, with the answers reflecting both the clue words' meaning and how many clue words there are:
When I read [Part of IPA] and saw that I needed 7 letters, I figured the answer couldn't be INDIA, PALE, or ALE. As it turns out, it's PALE ALE. IPA also stands for the international phonetic alphabet, which luckily has no 7-letter words in its name! [Diva Christina] is pop star AGUILERA and not an opera diva. BLEEPS are [Swear word deletions], in the news of late.
Today's LA Times crossword was constructed by Derek Bowman and Sarah Keller. The theme reconceives THREE-D MOVIES (like the new animated film, Bolt) as being movies with three D's in the title:
I'm not sure why MALADIES are clued as [Chronic ailments]; I think maladies can be short-lived acute conditions too. Is the flu not a malady? Speaking of diseases, ALOIS is the first name of [Dr. Alzheimer], who first identified the disease that bears his name. PHOOEY looks cute in the grid; it's clued as ["Nuts!"].
December 15, 2008