Before the ACPT, I set up a few Google Alerts so that Google could do the legwork of tracking down websites or blogs that mentioned the tournament. (I also set up a Google Alert for my own name and "Crossword Fiend," so I can ego-surf with a minimum of effort.) This morning, an alert pointed me to Mark Murphy's entertaining write-up of his tournament weekend. (There are spoilers for the ACPT puzzles, so don't peek if you're waiting for puzzles by mail.) A sample from Murphy's Craw: "Seeing a puzzle by Byron Walden that turns out to be easy is a little like being James Bond and being taken to Dr. No's torture chamber and finding out that the only weapon the good doctor has on hand is his collection of favorite knock-knock jokes."
Betty Keller's New York Times crossword offers plenty of encouragement to the solver. ["Keep going!"] is the clue for all four theme entries: "TRY, TRY AGAIN." "NEVER SAY DIE." "HANG IN THERE!" And "DON'T STOP NOW." I needed the encouragement at 1-Across, I tell ya—[What skunks do], 5 letters, starting with S. Hmm...could be STINK, or SPRAY, or SMELL. Luckily, previous crosswords have taught me that [Bridge writer Culbertson] is named ELY, so that pointed me towards SMELL.
[Bibliophile] seemed like a weird clue for BOOKMAN (BOOK MAN?)—or rather, that was a weird answer. I know Bookman, the font, and Mr. Bookman, the Seinfeld character (the library detective cracking down on fine scofflaws).
TOILE, the [Decorative upholstery fabric], is one of those words that can be off-putting to some Monday solvers. Heck, it intimidates me, because I seldom remember the difference between TOILE (which is also "a translucent linen or cotton fabric, used for making clothes") and TULLE (the mesh-like fabric seen in veils and tutus). Gotta work the crossings with those every time.
What else is in this puzzle?
Todd McClary slipped six theme entries into his LA Times crossword, with two shorter ones criss-crossing in the middle of the puzzle. Each one follows the ROPE-A-DOPE template: two rhyming words joined by an A.
I think I'd like the theme better without RUB-A-DUB, which is a little distracting because it's not as familiar (sans the extra "dub") as the other theme entries. Actor Jackie Earle Haley fell from fame for a couple decades, but he's winning raves for his roles in Little Children (he was heart-breaking there) and Watchmen (which I haven't seen). I think it's time for him to lay claim to the EARLE clues, replacing [Grammy-winning country star Steve]. I suspect far more people will see Watchmen than have ever bought a Steve Earle album. ROMA is clued as a [Pear-shaped tomato], but I think of Romas as being more egg-shaped, but with less taper. NASDAQ is the [Exchange where YHOO is traded]. DUE DATE is both a pregnant woman's and a [Book borrower's concern]. PEEVED is clued as [In a lather].
Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Cold-Hearted," features two 15-letter phrases and a 13 with a cold heart—the word ICE (32-Down) in the exact center of the answer. The phrases aren't particularly exciting, though:
There's some crosswordese lurking in the midst:
The coolest words in the grid are INVEIGLE, or [Sweet-talk], and HOOPLA, or [Big to-do].
Today's Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword is 'End of Newspapers: Emphasizing 'dead' tree editions." The theme answers are headlines you might see for an obituary for a newspaper:
Here are my favorite clues and answers from the rest of this puzzle:
This week's Jonesin' crossword by Matt Jones is called "Earning All A's." It took a while for me to figure out what was happening with the theme entries—each one takes a familiar phrase, changes all the vowels to A's, and clues the resulting nonsense phrase:
Two non-theme answers evoke the outdated womanhood of fairy tales—MAIDEN is clued with [She may be fair] amd DAMSELS are clued as [Distressed women?]. UMBRAS are [Dark parts of sunspots], and I needed a lot of crossings to figure that one out. [Cry on the set] isn't a verb—it's "ACTION," which comes after "Lights, camera...." [Scrapes from a motorcycle spill] or a bicycle crash are called ROAD RASH. [2000s caffeinated offshoot of 7 Up] is DNL. That name is 7 Up upside down—turn your head to see 7 Up in "dn L." [Prince who doubles as Wonder Woman] isn't a drag queen or cross-dressing royal—it's DIANA Prince.
March 08, 2009