♣ Happy St. Patrick's Day! ♣
Three of the five theme entries in Richard Chisholm's New York Times crossword refused to be familiar to me, but once you GRASP (1-Across, [Comprehend]) that they're all phrases that start with Irish surnames in the possessive, things fall into place.
I think it's a tight theme—I can't think of any other works of art/fiction that follow the same format. Murphy's law and McSweeney's Internet Tendency don't fit that model; the Kennedy Center and O'Reilly Factor aren't creative works and they lack the possessive S.
What else is in this puzzle? Despite its alternating consonant/vowel pattern, HASID almost never shows up in the NYT crossword. Its clue today is [Jew traditionally dressed in a black coat and hat]. The clue's only half-accurate; half of Hasidic people are women with different garb. Move out of the '40s and into the late '70s and I'm in my wheelhouse—GONNA ["___ Fly Now" ("Rocky" theme)] was a gimme. The [Pakistani leader, 1977-88] was ZIA, or General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Since when is OBOE clued as an [Instrument held with two hands]? The Cruciverb database suggests that's a new clue for the word. Here's a photo demonstrating the two-hand oboe grip.
Yay! I love a surprise themeless crossword. Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword for this week is a themeless one called "60 Clues Go In." The grid doesn't look like your usual low-word-count grid—Matt uses some black stair-step corners to facilitate the stacking of 13-, 14-, and 15-letter answers at the top and bottom of the grid, and the corners with those stairs sprawl out madly. Favorite answers:
A few entries fall short of the usual bar for crossword fill. A French definite article squeaks into LE COEUR, or [The heart, to Henri]. RIDE AN ELEVATOR feels a little arbitrary as phrases go. ICAM, or ["I'm 100% with you," in Internet shorthand], is not as well known as other onlineisms (IMHO, LOL) that have made it into crosswords; Google tells me it's short for "I couldn't agree more." SLOW GAIT—an [Ambling pace for a horse]—looks iffy but isn't; it's an actual thing.
In my "Huh?" category, we have ["The Baroness Redecorates" singer-songwriter Sarah] SLEAN; RUPERT, [Stewie's teddy bear, on "Family Guy"]; PAPADAKIS, or [Former host Petros of Spike TV's "Pros vs. Joes"]; and PANELA, or [Queso ___ (Mexican cheese molded in baskets)]. I halfway knew the medical terminology MIOTIC, or [Like excessively small pupils] (as when bright light hits the eyes and the pupils constrict).
Don Gagliardo's Los Angeles Times crossword goes GREEN (38-Across) too. The theme entries are in unexpected places, so their clues are starred. Each theme answer is a word, clued straightforwardly, that can follow GREEN.
So with the inclusion of GREEN in the middle, that's 14 theme answers. Believe it or not, there's still room for nonthematic material. I have to make my obligatory complaint about the clue for EEG, [Brain scan]—and as I've said before on this blog, an EEG is not a scan! Scans are x-rays, MRIs, CT scans—capturing a picture of the body's insides. EEGs and EKGs are zigzag tracings of electrical signals put out by the brain or heart. They're not scans.
Assorted other clues: SPEEDEE was [McDonald's aptly named mascot before Ronald]. [Morgen's opposite] is the German word NACHT; Morgen is "morning" and Nacht is "night." [Kelly of talk] clues the surname RIPA—no Kelly green here. O'HARE is an Irish name; it's clued as the [Airport WNW of Wrigley Field]. If you used your green thumb, you GARDENED, or [Tended the flowers]. POTAGE, a [Creamy soup], can be green. The same mythological character appears twice in the grid; Greek EROS is [Archer with wings], and Roman AMOR is [Matchmaking god].
Tom Schier's CrosSynergy puzzle, "St. Patrick's Favorites," presents a batch of Irish-associated things. The theme entries include two Across 10's, two Across 8's, and two Down 8's. It's a little weird that there are also two non-theme 8-letter answers running Across. Here's the theme:
The non-theme 8's are METAPHOR, a [Figure of speech in which two unlike things are compared], and ALTRUIST, [Person unselfishly concerned for others.
Whew. Three St. Patrick's Day themes, all different—and I'm glad the Onion's publication day is not Tuesday, because that means maybe the Onion A.V. Club puzzle won't also skew Irish.
March 16, 2009