Eric Berlin's New York Times crossword, "Fitting Words"
Eric riffs on the phrase "a square peg in a round hole" by placing 10 square PEGS into 2x2 squares...but the word reads around so those 2x2 spaces serve as round holes. It wasn't too hard to guess that was the theme after filling in the first PEGS in the upper left corner, so the other nine marked 2x2 squares more or less provided a couple crossing letters for 36 more answers. (If you know there's a GE in one answer crossing a box, then you know P and S appear in the other half of the square.) There are just two traditional theme answers, spanning the middle of the grid—SQUARE PEGS are [Things that may not go in 69-Across], and ROUND HOLES are clued [See 65-Across].
The answers intersecting the square PEGS don't feel forced or clunky, which is always a risk when fill is constrained by a puzzle's gimmick. It helps that the PEGS can go clockwise or counterclockwise, can start in any square, and aren't confined to symmetrical spots in the grid. Highlights, from both the PEGS zones and elsewhere, include these clues and answers:
I'm coming down with a cold and feel my energy waning, so here are my top 10 tough clues:
Updated Sunday afternoon:
Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "You Can Say That Again"
Was this puzzle hard or is my cold damping down my cognitive function? The 10 theme entries change the pronunciation of a word in a (semi-)familiar phrase to change the meaning, and the new meaning is suggested by the clue:
There were some gnarly bits here. [Holst subject] is MARS with the A crossing IDIOTA, or [Nitwit, in Italian]. NILES Crane was a [Cafe Nervosa regular] on Frasier. [Seeker of prajna (enlightenment)] is a HINDU. [Song of 1850, "Santa ___"] clues LUCIA. [Ayesha will show hers (and how) by the end of H. Rider Haggard's "She"] clues AGE; has anyone read this book? I had trouble getting the answer to [Stomp on the gas], though my cousin said her dad exhorted her to PUNCH IT when he taught her to drive. [Maugham's Thompson] is SADIE; again, has anyone read the book involved here? A TO Z gets a clue I don't recall seeing before: [1994 thesaurus, "Roget's ___"]. Even 1-Across and 1-Down slowed me down—[With "with," pronto] clues FORTH (but the clue suggests that the answer is a separate word here, which it isn't), and ["___ on bottom"] is the yogurty FRUIT.
Jack McInturff's syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, "On the Fly"
My full write-up of this puzzle is over at L.A. Crossword Confidential. The theme is six-legged, winged creatures: the last word/part of each theme answer is a type of fly.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's 6-week-old Boston Globe crossword, "Beatles Medley"
The theme entries are five 21-letter answers that span the full width of the grid. Each one consists of two, three, or four Beatles song titles piled up into a medley phrase. For example, [Mean Beatles medley] is YOU WON'T SEE ME HELP JULIA. This anti-altruistic medley combines "You Won't See Me," "Help!," and "Julia."
For added Beatlemaniac oomph, a bunch of shorter answers throughout the puzzle have clues that evoke the Beatles. [Michelle, to herself?] is MOI; in the song "Michelle," there's some French singing going on. YOKO ONO was [A Beatle's honey pie]. The SEA is clued as [Octopus's garden?]. A record DISC is [One of a White Album pair]. [Come together?] clues SYNC. ALOFT is suggested by [Like Lucy, in the sky?]. ANTS are [Pests in strawberry fields]. OLGA is a [Saint back in the USSR?]. ["Getting Better" feeling?] is RELIEF. [Ways to hold you tight] are BONDS. STOW / AWAY is clued as [go with no ticket to ride?]. [Put a fool on the Hill?] clues VOTE. ["Let it be!"] clues STOP. Your NET is your [Post-taxman take]. To GAD is to [Go here, there, and everywhere]. There are probably more Beatles references lurking in here that I missed. [Penny follower] is ANTE, though, and not LANE. I wonder how many people leaped at the chance to put Penny LANE in the grid.
Nancy Salomon's themeless CrosSynergy crossword, "Sunday Challenge"
Another "Sunday Challenge" at the easier end of the spectrum this weekend. Favorite bits:
April 11, 2009