(post updated at 10 a.m. Friday)
When it comes to themeless crosswords, Brendan Emmett Quigley likes to cram in a lot of cool entries. Here are the showiest answers from his New York Times crossword:
Karen Tracey's latest Sun "Weekend Warrior" felt like a "Themeless Thursday" because the clues weren't so hard. Or maybe they were, but knowing Karen's style, it's so easy to read a clue like [Fruity bread spread] and leap at a super-Scrabbly answer like QUINCE JAM. Other answers with uncommon letters include ARABESQUE above DIXIE CUPS, with that Q feeding into QUINCE JAM, whose J is shared by JAMI GERTZ (I just saw the clue [She's behind Biden in the presidential line of succession] and wanted it to apply to JAMI GERTZ), whose Z links to MAXIMIZES, which meets RELAX.
I misread [My brothel's keeper?] as "My brother's keeper" and thought biblical rather than MADAM and prostitution. [Neither fore nor aft] clues AMIDSHIPS; the cruise ship I was on just called it midships. The Lone Ranger is a MASKED MAN but somehow I wanted that answer to be NAKED MAN. TIM MCGRAW has five consonants in a row heaped up inside his name.
Daniel Finan's LA Times crossword replaces successive sounds with double letters that, when read aloud, sound roughly the same as what they replace:
Toughest clues for me: [Plain type?] for JANE; [Fire and brimstone target] for SODOM; [Popular tourist spot] for MECCA (do hajjis consider themselves tourists or religious pilgrims?); and [Gran Paradiso, e.g.] for an ALP.
Wow, is this the easiest Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle to date? Usually they're at a Thursday or Friday NYT difficulty level, but this one felt like a Tuesday. In John Lampkin's "Misplaced Modifiers," the theme answers are things like French fries, things with a geographical name that's inaccurate (fries are a Belgian creation):
Mike Shenk, writing as "Alice Long," constructed this weekend's Wall Street Journal crossword, "Winter Business." Easy puzzle! The seven theme entries all have "in winter business" appended to otherwise straightforward clues. Each answer is a common business phrase that begins with a word associated with winter. For example, [Manufacturing supplies, in winter business] are RAW MATERIALS, and damn, is it ever raw outside in Chicago today. Windy and 15°F? That's also cold (COLD, HARD CASH is [Real money, in winter business]) and frozen (FROZEN ASSETS are [Blocked funds, in winter business]. We have snow (SNOWBALLING is clued as [Momentum in the equities market, in winter business]) here, but it's too cold for slush (SLUSH FUND is a [Money reserve, in winter business]). The other two theme entries evoke a much warmer winter—BRISK TRADING is clued as [Market activity, in winter business], and "brisk" describes early November better than a Chicago January. COOL MILLION is a [Tidy sum, in winter business]. Overall, the fill and clues were a good bit easier than a Sunday NYT crossword's.
Brendan Emmett Quigley's self-published crossword, "Lean on Me," has the subtitle "Think thin." That should have pointed me away from thinking AL ATTRACTION was made by removing NIMA from ANIMAL and straight towards seeing that it's FATAL without the FAT. With the NIMA in my mind, I had no idea what was going on with the other theme entries, but it came together after the grid had been filled in. CRUEL TWIST OF E takes the FAT out of FATE, and HER CHRISTMAS diets down the FAT in FATHER. Two of the four 11-letter Down answers in the fill put me briefly to sleep—ORAL VACCINE and DATA STORAGE—but hey, they're stacked 11's crossing two theme entries so we can't expect them to break new ground. Favorite entry: DON CHEADLE, the ["Hotel For Dogs" star]. How many Hotel ___ movies must he make? He's also had two recent verb-preposition-Me movies, Reign Over Me and Talk to Me.
January 29, 2009