The theme in newcomer Kristian House's New York Times crossword is BROKEN-HEARTED, and the word HEART is broken between two words in various phrases:
Before I even made it to that first theme entry, I got disgruntled in 1-Across. [God, with "one's"] clues MAKER, which put me in a "please don't marginalize nonbelievers" mood. A fill-in-the-blank [Meet one's ___] would have seemed more about language and less about making a statement. But maybe that's just me. Aside from that, most of the puzzle practically filled itself in, with the exception of the long Down answers that made me ponder a bit: [Managing perfectly] clues IN TOP FORM and [Drier's need] is a DISH TOWEL but I had laundry machines on the mind. [Cylindrical sandwiches] also gave me pause, as I picture WRAPS with beveled ends, but a Google image search shows me plenty of perpendicularly cut wrap sandwiches. I never order wraps, so...
A couple answers might be less familiar to some of our newer solvers. [To the left, at sea] is APORT. DARN (["Rats!"]), I neglected to use my crosswordese nautical words during my cruise in December. NAN used to get clued more often as a Bobbsey Twin, but now we see it as [Tandoor-baked bread]. If you're an Indian-food neophyte, you can eat nan (sometimes spelled NAAN) without trepidation. The clue [W.W. II-era G.I., e.g.] just might break the record for punctuation—six periods, a hyphen, and a comma? Yowsa. The answer, AMVET, isn't one that we're likely to run into more than once a decade in the crossword. All I know about this word is that back in the day, my mom'd call AMVETS to pick up clothing discards to sell in their thrift stores.
Well, "Jerzy Whitmore" looked like an improbably Polish-meets-WASP name up there in the Sun crossword byline, and it just so happens that Jeremy Horwitz, who has previously made Oscar-week Sun crosswords, anagrams to Jerzy Whitmore. The "International Film Festival" screens three Best Picture winners whose titles start with nationalities, and the films play out on a tall vertical Imax screen (which is to say the grid is 16 squares tall). The ENGLISH PATIENT, The FRENCH CONNECTION, and AMERICAN BEAUTY are the three films in question. Favorite clues: [Poles on the equator, maybe?] are EXPATS; the [Hollywood agent Emanuel whose brother Rahm is the White House chief of staff] is ARI (and the Entourage character Ari is based on him); [Word with snow or bank] is JOB; and [Contemporary of Moses] Malone is KAREEM Abdul-Jabbar. The smooth fill includes LAKE PLACID, Your EXCELLENCY (and yes, I do answer to that), BO DEREK, and PALE ALE.
Peter Wentz's LA Times crossword has a subtle underwear theme, which is hard to pull off. Or maybe it's pretty obvious, but the showy non-thematic crossword fill distracted me. The four theme entries end with men's undies:
These four answers would all look better in the singular, but they're only underwear in the plural. The theme entries contain plenty of uncommon letters—four K's, two J's, and an X. Some of the fill in this grid is just terrific: BAD SANTA is a [2003 Billy Bob Thornton holiday film]. JOE SCHMO is just some [Random guy]. ["Attention, ___ shoppers..."] is missing its KMART. TSK, TSK is more commonly seen in crosswords as the half TSK; it means ["For shame"]. [Soften at the factory, as jeans] clues PREWASH.
Updated Tuesday evening:
Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword for this week, "Double Dip," doubles one letter in each of three ice cream flavors, thereby changing the number of words in each flavor name:
This puzzle has seven zones in the grid, each with a trio of longish (6 to 8 letters) answers. My favorite answers: BENELUX is an [Org. of three European countries]; Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg have an economic union, apparently. An ALTAR BOY is an [Assistant in the Roman Catholic church]. [Take the bait?] is the double-edged clue for SWALLOW. ["Penny Arcade," for instance] is a WEBCOMIC. (Hmm, maybe it helps to follow along because the Penny Arcade strip that's up now makes no sense to me. ESSAY is clued as a [Blog entry, sometimes]; yes, indeed. To [Get ready for a space flight, perhaps] is to SUIT UP.
February 16, 2009