Tausig not timed
I didn't glance at the byline of the Wednesday New York Times crossword until I'd completed it—turns out the puzzle's by 16-year-old Caleb Madison, who was at my table at the ACPT Sunday lunch. Nice kid—and one with plenty of cultural literacy, because the theme is liquor and surely that's something he's only heard about. 58-Down, a BAR, is clued with [Judging by their names, where the answers to the four starred clues might be found]. Seeing the middle two theme entries first made the theme more obvious than it would've been if I'd filled in the first and fourth ones earlier:
Now, there are some answers in the fill that make you say "Oh, yeah, you can tell this is a young constructor," and others that suggest his parents or grandma had a hand in it.
There's a literary bent to the puzzle, with three poets skulking about. W.B. YEATS is a kickass crossword entry; he's ["The Second Coming" poet]. ELIOT is in the grid without his initials, as the [Poet who wrote "This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper"]. Edgar Allan POE is ["The Bells" writer]. Possibly the least poetic word for [Kiss] is OSCULATE. ["No doubt!"] means ABSOLUTELY. (That's not a starred entry, despite the presence of a vodka brand in its midst.) Did anyone know the [Ohio town called the Bicycle Capital of the Midwest] without the crossings? I didn't. It's XENIA.
Matt Gaffney's Onion A.V. Club crossword repeats itself a lot:
Did you know the [1992 champs at the Cricket World Cup] were PAKISTAN? Luckily, not all that many countries play cricket, so it wasn't hard to narrow it down with just the PA in place. Favorite clues: On the internet, a MEME is a [Viral phenomenon]. All the Facebook folks writing their "25 Random Things About Me"? They're hopping on a meme. The OVEN is a [Gestation place, euphemistically], and what's being gestated, of course, is a bun. Two 6-letter answers differ by just one letter: ["Ghost World" cartoonist Daniel] CLOWES and CLOWNS, or [Fools]. CANCER rarely makes it into the NYT crossword, even clued astrologically, but it's kosher for the Onion—the clue is [One of the three water signs, in astrology].
The theme in David Cromer's LA Times crossword is in the homophone clues:
The theme answers are essentially clues for the answers contained in the clues, one of which (Q) is too short to be an actual crossword answer.
Assorted other clues and answers: ASSAM is [One of India's Seven Sister States]. Those are the small states in India's northeast extension, nearly cut off from the rest of India by the impingement of Bangladesh and Nepal. The Johnny [Mathis classic] is "MISTY." The [UAW H.Q.] is Detroit, abbreviated as DET. [Like fine cuisine] clues the word SAPID, which doesn't get much use because it's an ugly-sounding word rather than a delicious-sounding one. [Bronx third baseman, to fans] is the Yankees' A-ROD, who is having hip surgery soon. He has used steroids and—I didn't know this—is from the Dominican Republic.
The Wednesday Brendan Quigley crossword takes CHARLES DARWIN as its inspiration, with [55-Down's successor], MAN, paired with [54-Down's ancestor], APE. Each of the theme entries has MAN succeeding APE:
My, I did get off on a tangent there, didn't I? There were some tough clues today. [Hawaiian honeycreeper] is MAMO, crossing those cross-referenced MAN and APE. [Ancient warrior from Amphipolis] is XENA the Warrior Princess. [License giver: Abbr.] is the FCC, which gives out broadcasting licenses, no? O'HARE Airport is [just south of Des Plaines]. That one wasn't hard for me, but I'm from Chicago. What's a [Mandrel]? It's not Barbara Mandrell or the blue-butted baboon called a mandrill, it's an AXLE of sorts. I accidentally typed PLAN P instead of PLAN B for [Backup], which made it hard to see BREWFEST as the [Drinker's party]; it looked like PRE-something, which led exactly nowhere. [Orange throwaway] is the RIND. (It's true. I do throw out the rind.) The [Birthplace of hip hop] is THE BRONX, with a well-wielded definite article.
Patrick Blindauer tries to rescue the SST (60-Down) from crossword ignominy by elevating it to the core of a theme in his CrosSynergy crossword, "Jet Set." (Sure, the Concordes were taken out of service, but the SST lives on in crosswords.) Each theme entry has SST spanning two words:
I kept misreading [Bygone hangout] as a [Bygone handout], so the MALT SHOP was elusive. So were the CRABS that are [Shore sidlers]. I love CORN BREAD, a [Southern starch], and now I want to bake some now. [Spade player] has nothing to do with card games—Humphrey BOGART played Sam Spade.
Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword for this week is called "F Bombs." The theme answers have a PH replacing an F, changing the meaning of the frase:
The inclusion of just three theme entries leaves room for more 6- to 9-letter answers than usual. [747 in California, e.g.] is an AREA CODE. The DAILY SHOW is a [Satirical program originally hosted by Craig Kilborn]. Two spoken phrases intersect: "I'M AMAZED" means ["Wow!"] and "AM I RIGHT?" equates to ["Eh?"].
There's a Spanish word I didn't know: NIETA is [Guatemala grandchild]. Ben's original clue didn't specify what sort of relative it was, and I would've guessed that NIETA meant "niece." I like it when a crossword teaches me something new. [Largest island in the Bahamas] is ANDROS. I had the ABACOS in there first. [Leaves before dinner?] is a noun, not a verb phrase: SALAD. Great clue.
There's a slew of names, mostly from contemporary pop culture, in this puzzle: The Sopranos actor Robert ILER, Solaris director ANDREI Tarkovsky, Poe's Arthur Gordon PYM, Disco STU from The Simpsons, D-lister LOU Diamond Phillips, C-lister Gary SINISE, Dawson's friend PACEY from Dawson's Creek, skier Phil MAHRE, Seinfeld's fictional ex ELAINE, the kid's show NED'S Declassified School Survival Guide (which is no more), HAL the [Computer of cinema[, and SPYRO the [PlayStation dragon].
March 10, 2009