(updated at 10:23 a.m. Wednesday)
John Farmer works a mnemonic into his New York Times crossword, but he does a good job of hiding it. There are five circled squares, the ones that begin the longest Across answers and the central Across answer. All of those letters—E, G, B, D, and F reading downwards—are NOTES, or [Staff members, and what the circled letters in this puzzle represent] at 65-Across. The five EGBDF answers start with words that are used in a common mnemonic for remembering the order of those notes: EVERY GOOD BOY DOES FINE. Now, the way I learned it, every good boy deserves fudge, and I'm feeling a little ripped off that Farmer didn't bring the fudge. (I kid!)
John Farmer likes to do it up fancy, so the first and last theme answers are accompanied by stacked pairs of 9-letter answers and crossed by triple-stacked 7's to boot. The fill is rather Scrabbly as well. My favorite parts:
Now, this puzzle's not all fudgy goodness. Abbreviations and quasi-crosswordese answers include RGS, or [Some football linemen: Abbr.]; EZIO, [Opera singer Pinza]; DSL, the [Alternative to dial-up] (I like this abbreviation, though); the FAA, or ["Black box" regulator: Abbr.]; OMY or "o' My," clued as ["Peg ___ Heart"]; DJ'S and BB'S and CD's; the [U.K. honor] known as the OBE; the [Onetime Mideast letters] UAR, or United Arab Republic; AOL and DNA; DAWS, or [Crow cousins] (as in jackdaws); and AZO [___ dye].
The Wednesday Sun crossword constructor is Stephen Kennedy, an unfamiliar name. Perhaps "Bawdy Parts" marks his debut, and it's a good puzzle. The theme entries end with words that sound like body parts.
Two corners of the grid are wide open. In one of those corners, ["Casablanca" director Michael] CURTIZ appears. Why is that name so unfamiliar? (No, it's not his original name.) This puzzle seems to have quite a bit in the way of X's, Z's, and K's. There's also Erik ESTRADA, who is on my TV screen right now. He's playing a cop (a California highway cop, as luck would have it) on the kid show, Drake and Josh. (He looks the same, but with a bit of a paunch.)
The first theme entry in Bill Ballard's LA Times crossword is COME AS YOU ARE, clued with ["It's a party! Informal, so ___..."].Great, a whole theme of Nirvana songs! I'm playing the song as I write this, but no, the rest of the theme entries were not Nirvana songs but party invitation phrases: NO GIFTS, PLEASE. KEEP IT A SECRET. And BRING YOUR OWN bottle. There are some pop culture references in the puzzle, though. FLIX is clued as [Net attachment?], as in Netflix. [Paul's "Exodus" role] was ARI (that's Paul Newman). Sam COOKE was the ["You Send Me" singer]. [Spike TV, formerly] was called TNN. SNL is the [TV show that had recurring "Killer Bees" sketches]. James ARNESS was the main ["Gunsmoke" star]. And Garfield's housemate ODIE is the [Slobbering comics dog] in question. There's one answer I've never seen before: ASSUROR is clued as an [Underwriter].
Tom Schier's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Who's Who," gathers a party of people with the initials W.W.:
I didn't know the [Driver in the most favorable position at the start of the race] was called a POLE SITTER; I know about pole position and the old flagpole sitting craze, though. Favorite entry: WET BLANKET, or [Enthusiasm dampener]. Knit your own wet blanket with [Balls of yarn] called CLEWS. There are a few place names mapped out on the grid. ATTU is the [Farthest of the Near Islands]. [Fort ___ (U.S. gold storage facility)] is Ft. KNOX. LANAI is a [Neighbor of Maui], and the Pacific has many a [Coral island], or ATOLL. ALGIERS was a [Former Barbary State in Africa]; from the 16th to 19th centuries, Algiers, Tunis, Morocco, and Tripolitania (Tripoli) were the Barbary coast divisions. AKRON is the [Rubber hub in Ohio].
Brendan Emmett Quigley (who's got a new blog where he dispenses crosswords on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) constructed this week's Onion A.V. Club puzzle. It's a quote theme, but the quote is a famous Bushism, so it was easier than usual to fill in the quote without needing crossings. The quote begins with the clue, [Start of an ironic quote from a certain Yale graduate]: RARELY IS / THE QUESTION ASKED: IS / OUR CHILDREN / LEARNING? Two more answers relate to the theme: LEFT / BEHIND is clued [With 63-Across, how those among 54-Across who speak like their President might end up].
Favorite answers and clues:
Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, ""Holding Water," holds some H2O in each theme entry:
Among the more interesting clues and answers are these:
That's a lot of good stuff there. Tougher words: [Spinning round?] is a DJ SET. [Ottoman dynasty founder] is OSMAN. [Hip parts] are ILIA, plural of ilium. [2002 Literature Nobelist Kertesz] is IMRE Kertesz. [Belligerent Chinese dynasty until 1125] is LIAO.
December 16, 2008