(updated at 6:40 p.m. Friday)
Whoa, that's a lot of crosswords in the Friday line-up. If I don't get to all of these by a reasonable time, I'll move some to Saturday's post.
Speak of the devil! Why, just yesterday I mentioned that Paula Gamache was a top-notch themeless constructor, and here she is again with a wonderful New York Times crossword. The grid looks a tad like a big backwards S, as the corners have been nicked out of the triple-stacked long answers at the top and bottom. And all six of those long answers are fantastic:
What else struck me besides how much I liked those six answers? I liked the little Kar Korner, where the [Wankel engine component], or ROTOR, was the first answer I had. It crosses TOYOTAS, or [Some hybrids], and a HOT ROD, or [Fast accelerator]. MANEATER is clued as [Lion, tiger or shark], and PREDATOR would fit with three of those letters; I'll bet some folks fell into that trap. A WRETCH is a [Base person], while a military [Base person?] is SARGE. [Ooze] does double duty cluing EMIT and SEEP...which cross the [Blood sausage ingredient] SUET and ruin my appetite.
There's a European vibe here, too:
Miscellaneous other stuff:
I should've known better. After Paula's puzzle last night, I opened the Sun "Weekend Warrior" and saw Byron Walden's byline. I had a headache and so figured it best to postpone the puzzle 'til morning ("Not tonight, dear") rather than grappling with Byron's Gordonized clues in an impaired state. The headache is still there now, but I figured I'd go ahead anyway aaand...I paid the price, as Byron's colleague Jeremy Horwitz (also a constructor) had thought it was one of the easiest Weekend Warriors ever but it trounced me. So, you decide: Easy-peasy WW, really hard, or somewhere in between?
My trouble spots occupied the bottom half of the grid, and wrong turns at a SQUIRT of Binaca (instead of the even-more-Scrabbly SPRITZ) and CLAUS (instead of SANTA) killed me. And the [Boilermaker part] I opted for was the BEER chaser rather than a SHOT of whiskey. These are a few of my favorite things:
You know what I've been wondering? Why I see Dan Naddor's byline so often above the LA Times crossword, but never in the NYT. He's definitely got the constructing chops to appear in the Gray Lady's pages, so I have to think he just doesn't submit his puzzles to anyone but Rich Norris. Anyway—Today's puzzle has a "See Notepad" notation in the Across Lite file, and each clue is followed by parenthetical h's or m's. I solved the puzzle without peeking at the Notepad, which merely clarifies that h = hit and m = miss, which I figured out when the BATTLESHIP theme became apparent. I'm short on time this morning so I haven't identified the location of each [Part of the game] in the grid (if I do later on, I'll post a new grid showing where the boats are). In the game of Battleship, you place an AIRCRAFT CARRIER, DESTROYER, SUBMARINE, and PATROL BOAT in a grid and you and your opponent try to guess where the enemy flotilla is. I think there are two of one of the smaller boats, but I could be thinking of the Conceptis Battleships puzzles. Hey, what's that SLOOP ([Fore-and-aft-rigged vessel]) doing in these waters? It could get torpedoed by a confused crossword solver.
Kudos to Naddor for the cool crossword/Battleship pastiche, and for fill like POTBELLY ([Hardly a six-pack?]) supplemented by FLAB ([Love handles, so to speak]), and the [Video-sharing site] YOUTUBE. Kudos to Rich Norris for publishing so many Naddor puzzles and for his flexibility where the "rules" of crosswords are concerned—I just noticed that the grid's not symmetrical.
I spent all afternoon telling myself I couldn't look at the Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword until I'd done the other three puzzles waiting for me. Chronology be damned, here's the BEQ. Now, the puzzle was mildly spoiled for me because I'd seen a comment somewhere about the "Pull Down Menus" gimmick, so when things didn't add up right away, I went straight to a MENU-pulled-down gimmick. The four theme answers are phrases that include MENU within them, but those four letters have been "pulled down" to the row below, and the 4-letter word that answers the clue below gets shifted up to the middle of the long theme answer. YEHUDI MENUHIN should be above PRAM, but instead the MENU's been dropped down and the name becomes YEHUDI PRAMHIN. Favorite fill: the RARE BREED in the bottom corner.
Annemarie Brethauer's Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, "49 Is 50," pays homage to Alaska on the 50th anniversary of its admission to the union. The theme answers are the state sport, tree, bird, flower, and fish. I knew the WILLOW PTARMIGAN (and have always been fond of the bird with its PT start). The other answers I pieced together with some crossings—SITKA SPRUCE and DOG MUSHING, KING SALMON and the FORGET-ME-NOT. State trivia!
The Dark Knight on Blu-ray began just as I started to do Rich Norris's CrosSynergy crossword, "Inner Voices," so I got rather distracted. The theme entries have an embedded ALTO (55-Down) in them, and the middle three theme entries are all stacked in a staggered heap—nice. Also nice: The stacked answers at the top and bottom, the 11's running alongside 7's going Down.
Batman needs me, so the Wall Street Journal puzzle will get blogged about in Saturday's post.
January 08, 2009