Tausig (not timed)
Kevin Der's New York Times crossword cries "EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!" Indeed, there's an extra EXTRA in this grid, with each of its five letters added to the beginning of a phrase to change its meaning:
Lots of Scrabbly vocabulary floating around in this one, starting with TJ MAXX, the [Marshalls competitor]. The puzzle's also a foreign-language quiz. [It's good for Juan] clues BUENO and HABLA means [Speak in Spanish]; there's also Penelope CRUZ, the ["Volver" actress, 2006]. NEINS are [Dortmund denials], German "noes." Speaking medicalese helps to know that AVULSE means [Tear off forcefully]—if you have an avulsion, I sure hope you're heading to the ER or OR. EYE is clued as a [Socket filler]—and yes, the eyeball can be avulsed.
Plenty of pop culture:
John Farmer's Sun crossword, "It's an Honor To Be Nominated...Again," features performers who've been Oscar-nominated twice for the same role. FAST EDDIE FELSON was Paul Newman's pool shark, Bing Crosby played FATHER O'MALLEY, Al Pacino mobbed it up as MICHAEL CORLEONE, and Cate Blanchett and Peter O'Toole went the royalty route as QUEEN ELIZABETH I and KING HENRY II. Nifty trivia theme—and this particular batch of trivia isn't anything I've read before.
Among the liveliest entries are these:
Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily built today's LA Times crossword around a familiar DOLLY / PARTON quote, "YOU'D BE SURPRISED / HOW MUCH / IT COSTS / TO LOOK THIS CHEAP." I've heard the quote and I've seen it in a 2005 Sun puzzle. So the punchline payoff was nil for me—no surprise lying in store since I knew the ending already. YOU'D BE SURPRISED how many old-school crossword answers found their way into this puzzle:
Let me put in a plug here for more specific clues for quote themes. [Start of a quote] provides no context at all, but some quote puzzles have theme clues that give a hint about what's to come. Can you think of a way to clue this quote without mentioning Dolly Parton by name, since her name appears in the grid?
Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Plantings," plants a tree in each theme entry:
In the non-theme fill, I give Ben 20 points for this clue: [It may be shaken but not stirred] for a HAND. That's in the running for the year's best clues. I also like the answers AP TESTS, or [Smart HS student's challenges]; BUTTS IN, or [Offers unsolicited advice, say]; and MUPPETS, or [Animal and Scooter, e.g.].
February 18, 2009