PI (untimed, but easyish)
NYT diagramless (untimed, but easier than many diagramlesses)
Don't miss the post just before this one—the Oryx Awards honoring the best achievements in the cruciverbal arts for 2008.
It appears that a beer with dinner and the Sunday New York Times crossword are not an optimal combination...though I didn't muck things up with any typos, so it wasn't so terrible. (Should've gone with a margarita.) "Grid-Irony" is the joint creation of Vic Fleming and Matt Ginsberg, and there are 10 other theme entries that relate to 81-Across, SUPER BOWL SUNDAY. Those 10 phrases are football terms, but they're all clued as if they've got nothing to do with the game:
I'm fond of both Vic and Matt, but guys, this football theme does nothing for me. I'm sure many others are enchanted by it. Let's see...what else is in this puzzle?
This week's syndicated Sunday Los Angeles Times crossword is Dan Naddor's "Buried Treasure." Each theme entry is a made-up phrase concocted in order to bury a gem in its midst:
I like the find-the-hidden-gems game here. Anyone else misread [N'awlins sub] as [N'awlins suburb]? Boy, that made PO' BOY hard to dredge out. I thought [Babe in the woods] was skewing figurative and not literal—that one's a BEAR CUB. I don't know that I'd call NEOCONS [Political interventionists]—that clue kept me wondering for a while. Strangest-looking word in the grid: BINAL, or [Twofold].
Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "Study Group," reimagines the meaning of various "study of ___" words, to humorous effect:
Favorite clue: [What Pop has that the Pope doesn't] for a SHORT O sound.
Paula Gamache constructed this weekend's Second Sunday NYT puzzle, a diagramless crossword. The theme entries take five phrases that end with a plural S and insert an IE before the S, thereby altering the meaning:
It's unusual for me to have no idea where 40% of the theme entries came from, at least if it's not a sports-themed crossword.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's online-in-Across-Lite Boston Globe crossword, "Ready for '09?," ushered in the new year with 10 theme entries (9 to 11 letters apiece) that end in IX, the Roman numeral equivalent of '09. I didn't know that SPONDULIX was slang for [Bread, moola, clams], and money, but the crossings in this entire crossword had easy clues. The theme entries were clued straightforwardly, which also eased things up a bit. Good gravy! I rarely crack the 6-minute mark in a Sunday-sized puzzle. (There are some weekly Sunday puzzles, like Frank Longo's Premier King syndicated puzzle, Sylvia Bursztyn's LA Times magazine puzzle, and the Sunday Newsday crossword, that are usually about this easy—but I'm not in the market for more easy puzzles. I hanker for more tough puzzles.) Having heard of activist Dorothea Dix, [1930s advice columnist] DOROTHY DIX gave me pause.
Will Johnston's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge" includes a lattice of eight 15-letter answers, four Across and four Down:
Of the 72 answers in this grid, 44 are 3- and 4-letter words, many of them lacking that je ne sais quoi that produces crossword joy. NORN (that's a [Norse goddess]) and SMEE, OOO and LTRS, REE ([3M's mancala game "Oh-Wah-___"]) and EOE, NEN and EIKS. I do lean towards themelesses with juicy 8- to 11-letter answers rather than marquee 15's or a slew of 7's.
January 31, 2009