(updated at 11:50 Sunday morning)
On January 20, Barack Obama will take the oath of office and become the 44th president of the United States. Remember the election a couple months back? Yeah, Obama won a lot of states, and those states' 2-letter postal abbreviations all appear in single squares in David Kahn's New York Times crossword, "Making History." There are seven symmetrical entries relating to the theme, all with one or more rebus squares, along with scattered other states (not placed geographically) needed to represent STATES WON BY BARACK OBA[MA] / [IN] THE PRESI[DE]NT[IA]L ELE[CT]ION. Throughout the grid are other bits of presidentially oriented fill—CONG., POLLERS, OATH, a couple United Nations references, and the 1840s first family the TYLERS. Here are the official theme entries besides the two longest ones already mentioned:
This puzzle wasn't easy, and it would have been nefariously tough without the circled squares marking the location of each rebus square. Added elegance comes from the absence of any other state abbreviations outside of the circled squares in the theme entries. The rest of the grid has a few non-rebused LAs, MAs, and ARs, but that's fine. Assorted other answers and clues:
Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "4-N Relations," has a trivia theme: people (and one creature) who have four N's in their names. Merl being Merl, there are two pairs of stacked entries among the ennead, and if you think it's no big deal to put a 13-letter name on top of a 20-letter name and have workable crossings throughout, give it a whirl yourself. I'm guessing it's quite difficult because it's not done too often. The theme itself is pretty dry, with straight-up factual clues. For example, ["The Great Commoner"] was WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN, QUENTIN TARANTINO [plays Jimmie in "Pulp Fiction"], and BENJAMIN FRANKLIN is easy to get as [$100 figure?] since the note is slangily called a Benjamin. Two of the people are fictional characters, as is FRANKENSTEIN'S MONSTER.
Pamela Amick Klawitter's syndicated Sunday Los Angeles Times crossword, "Spread the Wealth," spreads an ATM (120-Down) across two words in each of nine theme answers:
Henry Hook's Boston Globe crossword, "Iron-Ons," originally ran in the Globe on 11/23/08. The seven theme entries are formed by adding the chemical symbol for iron, Fe, to the beginning of familiar phrases. My favorite examples:
Well, I know which is this week's easiest themeless puzzle—it's gotta be Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge." The triple-stacked 15's run vertically this time, with two more 15's crossing them horizontally. Though I had not heard of A CHILD IS WAITING, the [Judy Garland movie of 1963], the crossings all over this puzzle facilitated the filling in of, well, everything. The first or second answer I put down was BINOCULAR VISION, which is [Cyclops's lack], and the rest spun out from there. My favorite clue here is [Diamond Gil]. It plays on "Diamond Lil" but refers to baseball's Gil HODGES, the baseball diamond being where the game is played.
January 10, 2009