CS 8:57 (J—paper)
CHE tba — apparently not posted online yet in site redesign (*grumble*)
Will Shortz has been answering reader questions since July 20 here. Friday's the last day, so I expect there'll be more Qs&As added to the four pages' worth that are there now. It's an engaging read.
Patrick Berry's New York Times crossword
Isn't this a pretty crossword? I almost didn't want to sully it with any letters, but when the byline reads "Patrick Berry," I sullied it right up.
Eleven of the 15 Across rows contain a long (9 to 15 letters) answer, which looks crazy. One of the 15s is SPIRAL STAIRCASE (43A: [It gets you up and around])—which is sort of, a little bit, what the grid looks like.
If you'll pardon me, I've got to tuck my son in now, but I'll publish this much of the post for the nonce. Back soon.
And here I am again. You know what my favorite answers and clues were in this 62-worder? Well, there's NO SUCH THING (1A: [It doesn't exist]), for one. And also these:
Mildly vexing spots:
Updated Friday morning:
Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Material for Dessert Recipes"—Janie's review
Foodie (and foodies), take heed: this one's for you! Randy is serving up a cruciverbal confection with a power of suggestion that is bound to please—or possibly send you into the kitchen, or out to the nearest bakery. The trick, though, is that each of the theme desserts contains the name of a kind of fabric. The "material" in the title is material, not ingredients (though you will find plenty of those in the links...). Because there's always room for dessert, today we're offered:
Statistcially speaking, lace cookies looks to be a major-puzzle first and cotton candy a CS-first. But lace cookie appears in another of Randy's puzzles—as does cotton candy. It's an LA Times puzzle called "At the Dress Dinner" and the theme fill is made up of... "foods that include clothing or dress material." As fill, cotton candy has appeared in some seven puzzles, apparently as theme fill on each occasion; four of those occasions being puzzles with a food 'n' fabric theme. All of which is to say, where puzzle themes are concerned, be prepared for "everything old is new again." "Déjà vu all over again" may not the preferred choice, but it does go with the territory.
I was about to say that elsewhere in the puzzle Randy had given us a lot to chew on and then mention I'M ALIVE [Cry from an avalanche survivor] and how this first-time puzzle fill reminded me (as clued) of Alive, the gripping Piers Paul Reid account of the survivors of an air disaster in the Andes. But that would be in very bad taste... (TSK, Jane. Had enough? ME, TOO...) I will add that "I'm Alive" is one of the great numbers in Tony-winners Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's gripping rock musical Next to Normal—about a woman with bi-polar disorder and its effect on her family. Not for the faint of heart.
Because I play so much of it at work, loved seeing PHONE TAG in the grid; and CS first-timer SKY CAM [It provides video from above], which is already passé in the sense that we take it for granted now, the same way we became inured to the miracle of telephone communication. And how nice to see an [Apple product] that's actually the product of an apple: CIDER.
Before I SKIDDOO (oh, if only there'd been a 23D this coulda be attached to...), I do want to point out that sans "material," there is yet another dessert within. The [Chic Young creation] BLONDIE ain't just a comic strip!
David Cromer's Los Angeles Times crossword
Each theme entry picks up an -IC that alters one word into something completely unrelated:
I've been listening to a soundtrack of chainsaws and a woodchipper while doing this puzzle and writing about it, and I swear it's giving me a headache. So for details on non-theme fill and clues (and a good idea for a grand unifying entry for the theme), I'll send you to Rex's L.A. Crossword Confidential post.
Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "Just My Type"
I thought I had enough desktop publishing experience to dig a font theme, but no. The fonts in Brendan's theme aren't all familiar to me, and there's nothing innately entertaining or meaningful about the font names. Okay, so there's a font called Franklin that I don't use. There was a president named FRANKLIN PIERCE. And [Font penetration?] could clue that, except that pierce is a verb, not a noun, and Google shows me that the Franklin font isn't especially pointy, so there's no logical or amusing link to PIERCE. See what I mean? I'm just not feelin' it, dawg. Minor typographical nerd bonus points for the [Font suitcase?] clue for COURIER BAG. Back in the day, I handled font suitcases.
In Wednesday's L.A. Times crossword, SAT was clued as [Met] and this gave some people fits as they could just not accept that the words' equivalency was valid, no matter how many examples and dictionary definitions they saw. So thanks to Brendan for cluing SIT as [Be in session]. Yes! The sit/meet connection is not a sham!
I don't like [Crude object] as a clue for ORE—ore is a material and not a discrete object. I'll bet there's some ore buried within mountains, and Brendan did have some good mountain action here. The [Beatles album whose working title was "Everest"] is ABBEY ROAD, and the second-tallest mountain after Everest is K2 or, in crossword language, K-TWO. K-TWO is clued as ["The savage mountain"], which makes it sound volcanic and my first guess for any 4-letter volcano is ETNA. Whoops; not this time.
FIJI is the [Nation where golfer Vijay Singh is from]. It's a mystery to me: Why isn't "Fiji Vijay" his nickname?
Cathy Allis's Wall Street Journal crossword, "To Open: The Complete Instruction"
Cathy's second National Geographic Geopuzzle crossword is available in PDF form. This month's theme relates to the "Vanishing Venice" article.
The WSJ theme's a good bit more whimsical than any of the finance-related themes that sometimes appear in that paper. Cathy reinterprets packaging opening instructions by adding words onto the end of them. My favorite is 117A: [Cracker box: "Slide finger under flap and loosen gently"...] SO AS TO ENSURE A PAPER CUT. Ouch! I also like 65A: [Individual string cheese: "Safety first! Open with hands, not teeth"...] because SCISSORS ARE FOR WIMPS. I used to work with a woman who tore a neck muscle opening a pack of Twizzlers with her teeth. I am not making this up.
Solid puzzle with a few bits of crosswordese (57A: [Basketry willow] is OSIER and 12D: [Architectural pilaster] is ANTA, for example], nothing too crazy, and overall medium-tough cluing. Favorite clue: 32D: [They improve your balance] refers to CREDITS in your bank or credit card account.
July 23, 2009