(updated at 8:51 a.m. Tuesday)
Doug Peterson's New York Times crossword has a simple yet elegant theme. It runs the line of filial descent from Sr. to Jr. to III:
I fell into the anti-Ellen Ripstein trap when I entered AYES as the ["Thumbs-up" responses] without checking the crossings. Hmm, that wanted to be A-OKS to evade the BLYW and LOEI crossings. I'm sad to have missed seeing LOKI, my favorite [Norse trickster]. Highlights in the fill, which struck me as more Wednesdayish than Tuesdayish though I could be having an off night:
Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "Just Do It," has an unusual grid—16 squares wide by 15 high, with left/right symmetry. The theme is people who do or did "it":
Crossing those last two answers, there's a SYBARITE, clued as a [Hedonist of sorts]. The theme entries are all specifically tied to "did it" or "are doing it," but sybarites probably do all sorts of "it," too. My favorite clue: [It'll grow on you] for HAIR. [Shot to the forehead?] for BOTOX is good, too. Other clues of note and/or unfamiliarity:
THE DOG ate the cookie or dealt the stink, in [He did it! (in blameworthy situations)].
[She does...them? (on film)] clues DEBBIE, as in old porn film Debbie Does Dallas.
Jim Leeds' Sun crossword, "Adverbially Yours," interposes an -LY between two parts of a word or phrase to turn the first part into an adverb:
The theme is good, but it's the overall fill that really shines here. Three Z's, an X, and five K's lend a Scrabbly je ne sais quoi. My favorite answers all run Down: UNMANNING, ANNE HECHE with first and last name, SCHLEP, Gene RAYBURN of '70s game show Match Game, Monopoly's PARK PLACE, and a B-BALLER, or [One who plays hoops].
Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword journeys from [Always] to [Never] with two stops in between:
Running along the right side of the grid is NOLAN / RYAN, [baseball's career strikeout king], whose stats suggest plenty of "always" or "often." Favorite answer: the cross-referenced combo with the EVIL TWIN, a [Villain who might pull a 10-Down], or SWITCHEROO, clued as [Unexpected reversal, in slang].
Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Body Scan," scans the phrases from head to toe:
I don't watch Gossip Girl, so I had no idea that NATE Archibald is a ["Gossip Girl" role for Chace Crawford]. There's the NBA Hall of Famer Nate Archibald as well as the Crawford character. As far as I know, the abbreviation for the state of Virginia is Va., not VIRG ([Where Thos. Jefferson was born]). I'd have changed MERGE ([Get onto the highway]) to MANGE crossing WAD and VING Rhames to skirt that issue.
December 29, 2008