You know why it helps to pay attention in grade-school science class? So you don't read a clue like [Comment at the reptile exhibition?] and write in WHAT'S NEWT as your answer. Here's what that was supposed to be:
Trickier bits in the grid: ANAPEST is a [Bit of a limerick]. (If you like writing goofy poems, don't miss the Crossword Fiend contest! Deadline is Thursday at noon.) There's also KEMAL [Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey]—along the lines of "Attagirl!" I want to say "Atta Turk!" [Non-vector] clues SCALAR. [Ruby's victim] made me wonder what sort of mayhem Ruby Dee had been up to; turns out to be Jack Ruby, killer of Lee Harvey OSWALD. And look! That ties in with SLAYS, or [Does in], for a mini-theme of grimness. Haven't seen [U follower] THANT, as in the Burmese former U.N. Secretary General U Thant. For the scenic tour, you can take in Mount ETNA, a [Sight from Taormina], and look at a SWALE, or [Low-lying wetland].
Tom Heilman's Sun crossword, "Showing Some Muscle," puts some muscle into each theme entry's original word:
Speaking of quadrants, all four of this puzzle's contain trios of 7-letter answers going Down, intersected by another 7 and a theme entry. The clues I liked best in those corners include these: [Plant on the back of Arizona's state quarter] is the SAGUARO cactus. KNISHES are [Street vendor snacks] in New York, but Chicago is woefully low on street vendors who sell food. ERITREA is [Where Tigrinya is spoken]. Sounds a little like a Star Trek language to me. Also from the geography sphere: CROATIA is [called Hrvatska by natives].
In Donna Levin's LA Times crossword, once I had both FRENCH KISS (the [Ryan/Kline comedy]) and MELBA MOORE ([Singer/actress who made her Broadway debut in "Hair" (1968)] in place, I knew there'd be TOAST in the corner—and there it is at 66-Across, clued as [Diner "raft," and theme of this puzzle]. French toast, melba toast...hmm, what other famous toasts are there? These two:
Brendan Emmett Quigley's crossword today is titled "Funny Gesture" and it's got a quote theme featuring an [amusing question by Zach Galifianakis]: I WONDER IF DEAF / PEOPLE HAVE A SIGN/ FOR / "TALK TO THE HAND." It's a decent punchline, as quote themes go, and this puzzle has a low enough word count (70 entries) to pass muster as a themeless puzzle. That means lots of longer answers and because this is Brendan we're talking about, low word count = interesting fill and good clues to boot:
February 10, 2009