I have three minutes to blog the NYT puzzle, so this will be short. Randy Ross's New York Times crossword, "High Five," features a hidden theme of "otherwise unrelated phrases that contain the letters in OBAMA in order, not consecutively." I think. I can't view the new Notepad on the applet (great addition! but I saw only a blank white box on my Mac). MOBILE, ALABAMA helped tip me off to the theme. Overall, an easy Sunday puzzle, I thought. Some fun/tricky clues interspersed throughout the puzzle. Gotta run!
Okay, hours later, I'm back to finish the NYT write-up. Two of the theme answers get OBAMA's BA from the word BLACK: ["That" something in an Arlen/Mercer tune] is OLD BLACK MAGIC. Let us not discuss that ill-advised song from that state RNC guy. Then there's HONOR BLACKMAN, who [played the Bond girl in "Goldfinger"]. I noted the BLACKMAN part but didn't read HONOR as the verb until Rex tipped me off. Well, that's one way to honor the country's first black president!
The middle theme entry is GOD BLESS AMERICA, an Irving [Berlin production]. The other theme answers don't cite blackness or America:
- GLOBAL CLIMATE is clued as the [Kyoto Treaty topic]. I dunno—global warming, yes. Climate change, yes. "Global climate," not talked about in those words to the same degree the other phrases are.
- GOLF BALL MARKER is a [Links accessory].
- [Stetson, for one] is a COWBOY HAT MAKER. It's gettable, but not the kind of phrase that typically makes the grade as a crossword answer.
- ROBIN AND MARIAN was a [1976 Connery/Hepburn film].
- ROBERT MCNAMARA was a [Kennedy/Johnson cabinet member]. If you haven't seen the Errol Morris documentary The Fog of War, check it out. McNamara looks back on his career, and it's as fascinating as any Morris film.
- MOBILE, ALABAMA was [Hank Aaron's hometown].
- [What cats and rats do] is BITE. No, just kidding. The words RHYME.
- [Flight support?] is NEWEL, a newel being a post for a stairway railing or the pillar supporting a spiral staircase.
- ["Quantum Leap" star Scott] BAKULA is a blast from the past—that show was on from 1989-93 and my husband got me hooked on it.
- "MISS ME?" is a [Question after a separation].
- ATTACHED is clued as [Like many files nowadays].
- [Basic stuff] isn't acidic. It's an ALKALI.
- ["Glorioski!"] is an interjection I have never heard nor read. Apparently it means EGAD.
- [Felipe and Alfonso] are REYES, or "kings" in Spanish. I thought of Felipe Alou first, but Alfonso isn't one of his baseball-playing kin.
- [Psychiatrist Berne and others] are ERICS. Eric Berne wrote Games People Play, which I think was on neighbors' bookshelves when I was a kid.
- [Bald condition] is NO HAIR. This answer in a crossword? No good. If only that guy's last name were McMamara, we could've had MOHAIR here.
- [Movie whale] clues NAMU. Say what? It's a movie that was playing when I was born.
Merl Reagle celebrates the upcoming presidential inauguration with "Barack to the Future," a Philadelphia Inquirer crossword packed with puns on Barack Obama's first name:
- ERIN BARACKOVICH (Brockovich) is [Obama's favorite activist?].
- BARACKOLI AND CHEESE (broccoli, ick) is [Obama's favorite side dish?]. Actually, he likes the johnnycakes at Dixie Kitchen, according to this unaired episode of Check, Please, the Chicago public TV restaurant review show.
- ROAD TO BARACKO (Morocco) is [Obama's favorite 1940s comedy?].
- BARACKULARS (binoculars) are [Obama's favorite viewing device?].
- GOVERNMENT / BARACKRACY is [Obama's favorite D.C. target?].
- BARACK STARS (rock stars) are [Obama's favorite performers?].
- MY BARACKATIVE ("My Prerogative") is [Obama's favorite Bobby Brown song?].
- HYDROGEN BARACKXIDE (peroxide) is [Obama's favorite disinfectant?].
- BARACKLAMATIONS (proclamations) are [Obama's favorite announcements?].
Sunday finds your friendly neighborhood Crossword Fiend unwell, so the other three puzzles may or may not all make it onto this page and I won't have much to say about them anyway.
Paula Gamache's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge" puzzle was easy-peasy with its five 15-letter answers that weren't too hard to figure out. I want to see BORIS AND NATASHA play doubles tennis against CASTOR AND POLLUX.