Onion 4:20 (no kidding!)
Barry Silk's New York Times crossword
This is Barry's second NYT puzzle in under a week. Usually he's a themeless specialist, but here he is on a Wednesday. And for the second day in a row, the theme includes a bunch of short answers rather than a handful of long ones. Barry's theme is a word ladder that takes us through the STANDARD WORK DAY, from NINE (1A) to FIVE (71A). Here's the ladder, in which one letter changes to make a new word in each step:
Yeah, word ladders are cool. (Remember Patrick Berry's N.Y. Sun word ladder puzzle, with 5-letter words embedded in longer answers making a word ladder straight down the middle of the grid? Awe-inspiring.) You can see Barry's themeless-constructor DNA peeking through in the NW and SE corners' 4x6 blocks and the stacked pairs of 8's in the other two corners. Without further ado, a few more clues:
Updated Tuesday morning:
Doug Peterson's L.A. Times crossword
Doug may have spent some time in the kitchen doing the Monster Mash while he was constructing this puzzle—the theme entries are phrases that end with words that double as kitchen verbs that make food pieces smaller. It would have been a little more elegant if HAS AN AX TO GRIND ([Harbors ulterior motives]) had been replaced by a phrase in which GRIND is a noun, as the kitchen verbs are nouns in the other phrases. Alas, THE DAILY GRIND is one letter too short to partner with FIREPLACE GRATE ([Log holder]). The other theme entries are LOADED DICE, a [Shady high roller's advantage], and a KARATE CHOP, or [Dojo blow]. That last clue ends with the sound of "Joe Blow" so now I'm pondering "dojo sixpack" and "dojo schmo."
Lots of Scrabbly fill here—NOZZLE, ZIPLOC, RED SOX, JAVA, and a bunch of K's. Good stuff. For the rest of my comments on this puzzle, see my L.A. Crossword Confidential post.
Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Pizza Pieces"
Patrick's theme gives me a touch of indigestion. The three "pizza pieces" in the grid appear somewhere in the theme entries:
I wouldn't need the Tums if the CHEESE had found a way to appear at the end of its phrase, like the SAUCE and CRUST do. There's much to admire in the fill here, but I'd like a more consistent theme structure, especially when there are only three theme answers.
Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "Gone Teabagging"
If you made it through the GOP "Tea Party" coverage without learning the X-rated meaning of "teabagging" and thus don't know why Brendan's puzzle skews anatomical, Wikipedia explains it here. The theme doesn't quite cohere:
Maybe those with the mindset of an 18-year-old boy appreciate this theme, but it's a big fail for me.
COQ AU VIN, a [Chicken-in-wine dish], makes for a lovely answer. We like it when Q isn't followed by a U. Not crazy about DEEP REDS as an answer—if you're stuck with the entry in your puzzle, clue it with two reds, not one ([Cardinals, e.g.])—maybe [Ruby and claret, e.g.]. Weirdest-looking answer is KEYOFE, which is three words: the KEY OF E is a musical term clued with [It has four sharps].
Matt Jones's Onion A.V. Club crossword
Matt's puzzle really should've run last week or the week before for maximum theme resonance. 420, or 4/20 or April 20, has become a marijuana thing. The theme entries begin with numbers that, when multiplied together, equal 420. The details:
My, that's involved. If I cared one whit about the whole 4/20 thing this theme would have wowed me, but while I appreciate the intricacy of the theme, the payoff was a bit of a letdown for me.
Names I didn't know: EMILIE is [Oskar Schindler's wife]. RITA is [Raspy-voiced former Fox News host Cosby]. [Joy Division casualty Curtis] is IAN Curtis.
Favorite clue: ["The Right Stuff" group, to legions of fans]. I had the TB at the end of the answer and just could not think of any nickname for the astronauts in the movie. Eventually NKOTB, or New Kids on the Block, emerged. I don't know if Matt (or editor Ben Tausig) hoped people would wander into that dead end, but I sure did.
April 28, 2009