Tuesday's puzzle had a theme centered on the 1940s to '60s. Robert Doll's Wednesday New York Times crossword doesn't have a theme that skews old, but much of the fill transported me to the crosswords of 30 years ago. The theme takes two-word phrases that begin with a GR- word and remove the initial G. If this puzzle had a title, it could be "A Case of Gout."
I thought the puzzle was mighty easy for a Wednesday NYT, but I was also struck by a preponderance of fill that used to be seen more often than it is nowadays. I've done puzzles long enough that those answers were gimmes, but I could see a lot of newer solvers getting a case of the grumbles with these:
With [Orange feature] cluing NAVEL, my eyes started seeing NAVELs everywhere in this grid. INANE ([Cockamamie]) looks sort of like INNIE, IN-LAW ([Acquired relative]) had the first two letters, and INNER ([Word before city or child]) was also close.
Ed Sessa's LA Times crossword includes a title as the last theme entry, 63-Across GOON SQUAD. Who's part of the goon squad? The punk, mug, hood, and tough at the end of these theme answers:
Good riff on the phrase GOON SQUAD. Did ALDO Ray play goons? For a change, a clue for ALDO gives me some information that's of interest. [Actor ___ Ray known for macho roles]? Hey! Now I know some context for Aldo Ray other than being given the title of an old movie I'll never see. Other clues:
When I open a puzzle in Across Lite, usually the timer starts going automatically. I didn't notice that it sat quiescent when I opened Nancy Salomon's CrosSynergy crossword, "Space Invaders," so I have no solving time to report. Probably a smidge below 3:00, if I had to guess. The theme hinges on calling sentient entities (...not quite anagrams, those two words) from outer space ALIENs, CREATUREs, and BEINGs:
As with the Doll NYT puzzle, some of this crossword had a retro feel. The trusty old ADITS are [Mine entrances]. There's a mineral/rock store called Open Adit; the site takes pains to provide a definition for the term. ADIT used to show up in many more crosswords than it does these days. STYE, or [Eyelid ailment] was in plenty of old crosswords, and alas, it is still in plenty of current crosswords. ESSO often gets clued as an outdated or non-U.S. brand, but here it's the [Tiger-in-your-tank brand], no hint of anachronism; the phrase still bubbles up in various ways. [Supreme Diana] and [Karl of "The Streets of San Francisco] appear one after the other, as 42- and 43-Down; Ms. ROSS left the Supremes in 1970 and KARL's show aired from 1972 to '77. [South Yemen port] is ADEN; this is one of those ageless crossword answers that I've known forever and will probably see in the last crossword I do in the old-age home some decades hence. The bottom row dispenses three more classic crossword answers: EPEE, a [Fencer's blade], along with ERTES, or [Some Art Deco pieces], and ESSEN, a [City on the Ruhr].
The quartet of 9-letter answers in the fill are good. TAILGATED means [Followed too closely on the highway]. LET IT SNOW is [One third of a winter refrain]. ORATORIOS are [Handel's "Messiah," et al.]. And the PAST TENSE is clued with [History is written in it]. I also like SKEETERS, or [Bloodsuckers, colloquially]. Did you know that South Africans and Australians and their ilk call mosquitoes "mozzies"?
This week's Onion A.V. Club crossword was constructed by Ben Tausig. The theme entries take words that end with a Z sound and change the pronunciation to an S sound, forcing a variety of spelling changes. The new phrases are clued with question marks:
The theme idea's a good one, but I only liked the first two entries. Here are 10 other clues and answers:
Pop culture rules the day in Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "Hand Jive: Five songs to help you get a grip." Brendan used a book of lists about music as the seed for this puzzle, with five song titles that fit into symmetrical spots of the grid and are all about masturbation:
The rest of the puzzle has some good stuff—there's a small corner with GAWKS and RITZY stuffed into it. There are longish answers like GIRL TALK and HAT TRICK, BY CHANCE and SO SORRY. And two corners with three-abreast 7-letter answers, marred only by the inclusion of the woeful ENSTEEL, or [Strengthen]. Wait, is that word thematic (for the theme entries other than the Divinyls song)?
March 17, 2009