CS 6:57 (J—paper)
Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel's New York Times crossword
That's a cool visual twist, sketching a tree with its parts labeled descriptively in the grid. Running straight down the middle of the puzzle are a central LIMB ([Life's partner]), the TRUNK (a [Magician's prop]), and one ROOT ([Cheer (for)]). Extending out from the TRUNK are four more LIMBs, running across and diagonally, and two more diagonal ROOTS. All of the letters in these tree pieces are circled for the solver's convenience, as not everybody wants to play word search after finishing a crossword. Rounding out the theme, there's the word TREE clued as the [Thing depicted by this puzzle's circled letters] and, rather beside the point, the NESTS that might be found in a tree.
The constructors filled the corners with two 6x4 chunks and pairs of 8-letter answers crossed by single 8's. Highlights in the fill:
Updated Wednesday morning:
Raymond Hamel's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Body Language"—Janie's review
I know I must sound like the world's crankiest solver, but once again I feel that the talented Mr. H. has delivered a "close-but-no-cigar" theme. And because the CrosSynergy puzzles receive peer review, responsibility for that falls on the peers-in-question as well. The idea of the theme is friendly if not "brilliant," and perfectly fine: four figurative (and familiar) phrases that also name body parts. The problem is that we don't use these phrases in the form we receive them in the puzzle. The only way I can get them to sort of work is if I take the clue/fill combo as infinitives. But there's nothing to clarify that in the cluing.
Three of the four phrases make the most sense in their passive-voice forms; and the result is that the promise of a solid theme is skewed. If you think I'm on the wrong track here or am being hyper-critical, please speak up and set me straight!
Elsewhere in the grid I'm a happier camper. From the art world: Salvador DALI is clued in reference to "Eggs on a Plate Without a Plate" which I'm quite certain will not stick to the ribs...; and RODIN in conjunction to "The Kiss". Seeing OYL ["Thimble Theatre" family name] so close to Rodin made me laugh. If any sculptor were to render Ms. Olive as a statue, it would not be Rodin, whose healthy figures represent well-nourished bodies. Giacometti on the other hand...
I also like the punchiness of the ONE-TWO [Ring combo]; and if boxing's not your thing, perhaps you'd be happier to see Kobe Bryant score, make a BASKET or three (and a very timely clue/fill pair that is). After last Sunday's championship game, I imagine the[Sports-team execs], the Lakers' GMS, are still a pretty happy group.
We get three authors, two well-known to me, the third not. In the former category are Harper LEE of To Kill A Mockingbird fame and thus [Atticus Finch's creator...], and [Nancy Drew writer Carolyn] KEENE. You may know this but "Carolyn Keene" is really a succession of several writers. If you care to delve further into the mystery, Melanie Rehak has written a wonderful book on the subject aptly called Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her. The name I needed the crosses for was ["The Pilot's Wife" author] SHREVE. Anita Shreve actually, though not to be confused with ["West Side Story" role created by Chita Rivera] ANITA.
There's a sweet crossing of two kinds of rides: SEMIS and the LIMO—and two kinds of vocal styles: you can CHANT text or you can INTONE it. We also get two shades of questionable activity: DICEY [Doubtful] and TABOO [Forbidden]; two internet references: AOL and URLS; and an assortment of names: actor LEW Ayres, the silver-screen's first Dr. Kildare, TESS Trueheart [Dick Tracy's wife], ANAKIN Skywalker [Luke and Leia's father], and [Soccer great] PELE.
I hope/trust that Ray and his esteemed colleagues will take my SNIT in STRIDE. But I also hope it's something they might take to heart!
Hello, Orange here again. I slept in. I love summertime! (If only the climate would recognize that meteorological summer began June 1, because it still feels like April.)
I haven't done today's CrosSynergy puzzle, but in reading Janie's write-up, I laughed when I encountered ARM TO THE TEETH. It sounds like a modification of the slangy "Hell to the naw!"
Mike Peluso's Los Angeles Times crossword
I pre-blogged this puzzle last night at L.A. Crossword Confidential and I must say, I suspect it was easier than my relative solving times suggest. I had this bizarre experience in which I kept reading entirely wrong clues and filling in answers in the wrong places. Really wrong. Like putting ALMS (10A, [Donations to the needy]) at 58A, which is LEVY ([Assess], as taxes). And putting 1A, [Rock concert equipment], into 1D; the singular AMP works with the clue just as well as the correct plural AMPS. Usually one solitary beer has no such effect on me as a solver. Weird.
The theme didn't do much for me. All three phrases have the same clue: [Angel]. This theme type is #6 on Brendan Quigley's list of 10 bullshit themes that do not represent the apotheosis of thematic creativity. But still, it's only Wednesday, and plenty of staid themes are always going to find their way into the Monday-to-Wednesday slots. Today's three [Angel]s are a HEAVENLY SPIRIT, an AMERICAN LEAGUER, and a BROADWAY BACKER—you know, the sort of Broadway-show-backing angel whose favorite sign is "SRO" in crosswords.
PETE ROSE and UNCLE SAM make a nice symmetrical pairing here, and their vertical neighbors LEER AT and GROVEL make a disturbing pair.
Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "Teenspeak"
Brendan rated this one "medium" but I dunno, I thought it was kinda hard. I didn't even understand what was happening with the theme entries until after I finished the puzzle—and it wasn't a case of racing through the puzzle too fast to bother with the theme. I pondered the theme while solving and didn't grasp it. But now I do:
I took a wrong turn at 63A [Doesn't dwell on]—it's SEES PAST, but putting in GETS OVER mucked up that corner for me. I got the final R from USSR, a [Cold War side], but alas, the actual answer was the WEST.
Let's eyeball the best and the worst in this puzzle. First, the worst:
And now, the best:
Deb Amlen's Onion A.V. Club crossword
The theme entries this week tell a timely story, and each of those theme answers is made by adding a G to the front of a word in a familiar phrase:
Aww, look at the Wordplay shout-outs in this puzzle: CAKE is the [Band whose "Shadow Stabbing" is featured in "Wordplay"]. Here's a homemade video for the song:
And then there's EELS, clued as [Band whose "Saturday Morning" is featured in "Wordplay"]. In their officia; video, pancakes are made:
Favorite clue: [Delighted condition?] for a power OUTAGE in which the lights are de-lit. Favorite fill: EITHER/OR, clued as ["Whatevs"].
June 16, 2009