Allan Parrish's New York Times crossword
Parrish's puzzle features an anagram theme—the four theme answers begin or end with anagrams of BAER. Hey, if this crossword had a title, it could be "Baer on the Ropes." The theme entries are:
There's a ton of good fill here. DId you notice that? The SOLE of your shoe leaves the next answer, a SCUFF. SASHAYS, or [Steps nonchalantly], bounces off IMPETUS ([Driving force]) and BOREDOM ([Yawn inducer]). Nobody wants to eat the DREGS ([Bottom-of-the-barrel stuff]) of the RIGATONI ([Tubular pasta]). Yes, indeed, I have a PENCHANT ([Strong liking]) for these answers.
If you're newer to crosswords, here are some answers that you'll see again and again:
Take a minute to commit these to memory, and I promise you, it'll pay dividends. Not cash dividends, mind you, but crossword-answering dividends.
Updated Tuesday morning:
Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "Go Digital: Turning over a new page in technology"
Isn't a Thursdayish gimmick puzzle a welcome sight this early in the week? Matt's puzzle ends the clues for the theme entries with the phrase "after the digital conversion?" and that "turning over" in the title's blurb is key to interpreting that. You take the number in the answer and turn the digits upside down—and then spell out the number in the grid. The longest answer, 17- and 52-Across, is SIXTY-SIX BOTTLES / OF BEER ON THE WALL (that [song for long road trips, after the digital conversion?]); 66 is 99 upside down. Here are the other theme entries:
Matt packs 71 theme squares into this puzzle, which is an awful lot. That's facilitated by the inclusion of fill that works for the alt-weekly audience but would cause grumbling in an older newspaper crowd. WASD is clued [Letter presets used in place of arrows in keyboard-based computer games]; the W, A, S, and D keys can be accessed easily by the left hand and are in the same basic layout as my keyboard's four arrow keys. (I pieced the answer together with the crossings and didn't understand it until I looked at my keyboard.) ROLLA is clued as [Rockn ___ (2008 U.K. movie)]; it's also a college town in Missouri. Jack Black's [Tenacious D bandmate Kyle] GASS and [Grateful Dead bass guitarist Phil] LESH have 4-letter last names that are tough to clue any other way. Reality TV accounts for MIRNA, [Charla's taller racing partner, on "The Amazing Race: All-Stars"]; Charla's a little person and Mirna is her cousin. AIBOS are those [Sony robotic pets], robo-dogs. GOT BUSY means [Started in on lovemaking]. And ASSY is ["___ McGee" (2006 animated series about a detective with no head, torso or arms]. These not-ready-for-NYT answers are joined by more standard crosswordese like OONA, ERLE, ILIE, ALAI, and ETO. There's also a rather (to me) obscure answer, IBLIS—[Satan's equivalent, in Islam]. I am considerably more familiar with DIG'EM, the frog [Mascot of Kellogg's Honey Smacks].
Steve Dobis's Los Angeles Times crossword
I suspect this is Steve Dobis's newspaper crossword debut. Congrats!
The theme was laying itself out nicely from top to bottom, with phrases starting with assorted male terms of nobility. That doesn't sound so fancy, but then the theme's tied together by THE KINGSMEN, ["Louie Louie" singers, and this puzzle's theme]. Nice touch, eh? The king's men are:
Highlights in the fill:
I'm having trouble making the clue for 1-Down work. AS FACT is clued as [To be the truth]. Let's see..."I take your story to be the truth" = "I take your story as fact"? It feels a little clunky, but its neighbors, VOODOO and EXODUS, rock.
For more on this puzzle, don't miss PuzzleGirl's post at L.A. Crossword Confidential.
Randy Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "What's in Your Wallet?"
The theme is money, money, money. Actually, there are six words for money at the end of the theme answers:
This is one of those rare themes in which the answers would make great entries in a themeless crossword. And they all end with slang terms for money? Well done. The theme would've been less fun with, say, ROEBUCKS, GAS BILLS, and PETTY CASH—the phrases Randy Ross chose are much livelier.
March 30, 2009