BEQ about 5:00
Happy Friday the 13th! That's two months in a row with this auspicious date.
Speaking of that, Friday the 13th gets short shrift in Joon Pahk's EXQUISITE ([Flawlessly crafted]) New York Times crossword, but LEAP DAY makes it into the grid, clued as [March preceder, periodically]. Among the shorter entries are relatively few abbreviations, and those that Joon includes tend to be familiar—DDT is the ["Silent Spring" subject]; OAS is an [Intl. group with 35 members]; [8 for O, say] is an example of an AT. NO., or atomic number; an ENT is a [Specialized M.D.]. (PPPS, or post-post-postscript, is [Afterthought #3: Abbr.], and that's probably the worst thing in this puzzle, which isn't bad.) I'm always pleased not to contend with assorted New Deal 3-letter abbreviations, that's for sure. So, junky TLAs aren't in this puzzle—what is? Lots of goodies:
Annemarie Brethauer's Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, "Sound Economy," channels the business pages—or how topics in the business section sound when read aloud. The five theme entries sound like financial terms:
I misread another clue, the one for SANE: I thought ["Show me a ___ man and I will cure him for you": Jung] was quoting Erica Jong. I had no trouble reading [Sculptor Noguchi]—I just had no clue that his first name was ISAMU or what any of his work was. There's a Noguchi Museum in New York; he created sculpture, public art, earthworks, and fountains and designed furniture as well as sets for dance productions. Once again, I'm glad that something in a crossword spurred me to wander off into the internet to learn something new. SEDUM is a [Succulent plant]. If you're curious about what it looks like, check out sedumphotos.net. My favorite answer in this puzzle, which I got with just the O in place, is YE GODS, or ["Holy moly!"].
Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword hesitates, adding UM to the end of each theme entry's original phrase:
A number of non-theme clues were superb, and some of the fill stood out too. PERE NOEL is a [Cannes Christmas icon]. DROOD, the [1985 Broadway musical based on a Dickens novel], sits right on top of the one-letter-off DROID, or [C3PO, for one]. The clues that captivated me were these:
I didn't know [Award-winning Disney animator Glen] KEANE. Any relation to Bil Keane of the "Family Circus" comic strip? I did know the ["Swan Lake" maiden] ODILE, but haven't seen her in the puzzle lately. Also in the category of "proper nouns starting with O that I mainly encounter in crosswords" is OSAKAN, or [Certain Honshu resident].
Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Romeo and Juliet," has three 15-letter answers with the puzzle's title in the clue. There's SHAKESPEARE'S PLAY, of course, and the 1968 ZEFFIRELLI MOVIE. But my favorite of the theme answers is the DIRE STRAITS SONG. Dire Straits has one of the world's greatest guitarists, Mark Knopfler. You know me—I rarely embed videos in my posts, but I wanted to embed this live performance of "Romeo and Juliet". Alas, embedding is disabled, so you'll need to follow the link to enjoy one of my most favoritest songs. Knopfler's rather mumbly with the lyrics here, but I know the words so I didn't mind.
Brendan Quigley's crossword is called "Don't Panic: Picking up a few hitchhikers." The theme was of zero help to me in filling in this puzzle, but luckily my unfamiliarity with the theme didn't stand in the way much either. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galazy author Douglas ADAMS wrote some characters, one of which is a [Two-headed, three-armed President] named ZAPHOD. (This doesn't ring a bell.) There are characters named Dent and Ford, I recall, and FORD MADOX BROWN and MAKE A DENT IN are two theme answers. Brown was the [Pre-Raphaelite painter of "Work"]—never heard of it or him. There was a writer named Ford Madox Ford, and I imagine that Messrs. Brown and Ford are cousins, or maybe kid and grandpa. The other theme entry is the [1974 platinum R&B album] MARVIN GAY LIVE. Is there a Marvin in Hitchhiker's Guide? Do any other answers feed into the theme? I have no idea. JIM BACKUS and SOLAR LAMP are the other longish Across answers. Are they theme answers? And why did Brendan want this to be puzzle #42 in his series? I could turn to Wikipedia for the skinny, but I think it'd be better for someone who knows what they're talking about to shed light. Anyone?
In Dan Fisher's Wall Street Journal crossword, "Ogden Nash Employment Agency," he presents a bunch of occupational rhymes that wouldn't be terribly out of place in Ogden Nash's playful verse. The eight theme clues follow the same format: [Wanted: Household servant who's less outspoken] clues SUBTLER BUTLER. [Wanted: Financial worker who's not so stocky] clues LANKER BANKER. In these and the others, the answer is "[adjective]ER [job that rhymes with that word]". The other workers who are sought include a FRAILER TAILOR, PLAINER TRAINER, GRAYER MAYOR, FASTER PASTOR, COYER LAWYER, and my favorite, the CRUELER JEWELER. We don't have a STAIDER TRADER, however, or a MEANER CLEANER. Can you come up with other word pairs that would also work in this theme?
Assorted clues from the rest of the puzzle: [Paladin to Charlemagne] is ROLAND. [Muppets prawn] is named PEPE. HOLY JOE is a [Chaplain, in army slang]. EBONY is a [Wood so dense it doesn't float].
March 12, 2009