CS 7:10 (J―paper)
Hey, I'm looking for a couple fresh voices to guest-blog the August 3 and 4 puzzles. If you're interested, leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail. Edited to add: I've got three volunteers to cover six puzzles, so we're all set this time. I'm hoping to take some time off again in late December...if not sooner. Thanks!)
Donna Levin's New York Times crossword
Aha, so the Times is going with the 40th anniversary of the next-day Times headline for its moon landing crossword theme:
Moving along beyond the timely theme, we have a mix of solidly Tuesdayish fare, high-end and not-often-in-the-puzzle vocabulary, and old-school crosswordese. The first category needs little discussion. Here's the fancy stuff:
In the crosswordese zone, there are a few notable answers:
Cute stuff: 34A: [Soprano ___ Te Kanawa], or KIRI, is from New Zealand. So is the KIWI, or 34D: [Fuzzy fruit], that she intersects. I'm partial to the pop culture vibe; ELAINE from Seinfeld, MARLO Thomas (her husband Phil Donahue does the NYT crossword), the XBOX, the movie D.O.A., a Disney ALI, and EMILIO Estevez show up in the grid. If you think that's too much, don't complain—I see a good dozen other answers that could have been clued as pop culture names but weren't. (The DOORS! MAGNUM, P.I.! ABE Vigoda! Growing Up GOTTI! The TOMS Petty and Waits!)
Updated Tuesday morning:
Gail Grabowski's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Beginning at the End"—Janie's review
Last week Sarah Keller gave us "Starting Ends," in which in the starting word of the theme-phrase could be paired with the word end. Though there's something similar in the titles, Gail does go a different route. The end word in each of her theme phrases is a synonym for the word beginning. Sorta...
Of the non-theme fill, I particularly liked seeing the compounds: STARFISH, COLD FEET and HOLD FAST. And it seems to me that participants in an ARMS DEAL (CS-debut) may be represented by LAW FIRMS (major-puzzle first). Sometimes after the fact... Regardless, you can be sure there's going to be a healthy FEE [Attorney's charge] attached.
I don't have lots more to say about this one, but there's a nice cluster with the crossing of LONG U [The vowel sound in "lute"] with GOOF and TULLE. That double "O" of the former and the "U" of the latter share that long "u" sound as well. Oh―and so does the "U" in the adjacent SNAFU. WOW ["I'm impressed!"]!
Hey, some of you may have noticed that in addition to today's NYT puzzle being made by a woman, there were four women in the NYT crossword bylines last week. This should be unremarkable, unsurprising, an ordinary occurrence. The Times averages about two weeks a year in which at least half the names in the constructor byline belong to women—so absent any changes, it'll probably be months before we see such a thing again. I hope it becomes more common. I also hope:
(1) That Will Shortz encourages talented, experienced female constructors to send him more puzzles.
(2) That those women who've cut back on submitting to the NYT will redouble their efforts.
(3) That Will publishes plenty of puzzles by women. It does make a difference to women to see themselves represented, as seeing two weeks straight of male bylines can subconsciously dampen the sense of possibility for a woman. (My son and I just talked this morning about the message a MEN WORKING sign sends to boys and girls: "This work is for men only." What a slap in the face to women working on a construction crew that sign is.)
(4) That more women will get into crossword construction. Buy Patrick Berry's constructing guide. Join Cruciverb.com, read the many valuable "Sage Advice" essays, and sign up for the Cruciverb-l mailing list to see what issues constructors deal with. And before you submit a crossword to an editor, run it by experienced people who can critique it honestly and help you polish it so it's more likely to get published.
Bruce Venzke's Los Angeles Times crossword
This theme reminded me of early-week Newsday crosswords, which seem more apt to run the spiraling-four-entries pattern than the other newspapers do. Is it my imagination? Perhaps. The four theme entries are phrases that end with words that also mean "boat"...though in one case, the "boat" word means BOAT, too. WITCHCRAFT was a [Salem trials crime]. BLOOD VESSEL is clued as the [Aorta, for one]. CENSORSHIP is [Press suppression]. And ROCK THE BOAT, which is a figure of speech using words that do indeed have to do with rocking boats, means [Shake things up].
I like BOB DOLE as a crossword answer; he was the [1996 loser to Bill Clinton] and appeared in Wordplay. I was a sucker for those Ripley's Believe It or Not books when I was a kid, but would have also liked an Alien/Sigourney Weaver clue for RIPLEY just as much as ["Believe It or Not" guy]. [Rocker Elvis] COSTELLO has a new album out and I nearly bought the CD for my husband but figure he can buy it from iTunes. SHINDIGS is a great word for [Galas]. SCHLEPS and (the depressing) SKID ROW are also lively entries.
Less likeable: the stuff like plural OLES, Bambi's aunt ENA, ENHALO, ELOI, TATS clues as crosswordese [Makes doilies], OLLA, NEE, OCTAD, ETHANE, and SEAWAY. I should hate the old PASHA, that [Old Turkish VIP], but it's a word we've taken to using around the house.
Matt Jones's themeless Jonesin' crossword, "A Buncha—words, that is"
(Public service announcement: If you want to get the Jonesin' puzzle as soon as it's available, join the Jonesin' Google Group. There are Across Lite and printable jpeg options, and the puzzles are usually sent out on Mondays. If you wait for the puzzles to appear on alt-weekly papers' websites, you'll probably be waiting until Thursday or Friday and won't be in synch with the blogging coverage.)
'Tis a promising start to the week, with Brendan Q's Themeless Monday followed by Matt's themeless today. Jonesin' puzzles usually have themes but I guess Matt sometimes gets a wild hair and gives us a themeless puzzle—I, for one, am glad. I'm short on time, so here's a list of clues and answers:
July 20, 2009