Many of you commented a couple weeks ago that the July 5 New York Times puzzle that Tony Orbach and I cooked up was on the easy side, as Sunday NYTs go. Well, folks, my husband gave up on it with a few answers jotted in. I think my mom is still working on it. And my aunt is still doing the puzzle, too. So those of you who found it easy, give yourself a pat on the back for your excellent solving skills!
Lynn Lempel's New York Times crossword, "You Are There"
Brief summary of what's in this puzzle:
1. Nine theme entries, some of 'em long, most of 'em crossing other theme entries. Wow!
2. Smart "insert U R there" theme that seemed to take forever to reveal itself, but had some excellent "aha" payoffs.
3. Smooth fill with challenging spots but nothing unfair or overly clunky.
4. Plenty of interesting clues to work the brain a bit.
5. A tougher-than-usual difficulty level, so don't fret if it slowed you down more than you were expecting. Tough is welcome—but it helps salve the ego if you're not disappointed by having more of an uphill climb than usual.
Can you tell I really relished this puzzle? Because I did. More Sunday puzzles, please, Lynn Lempel!
Let's get down to the nitty-gritty—which is not to say I've got nits to pick here, because I don't. First up, the cool theme:
Alrighty, what else did I like? What else was challenging? Let's have a look:
And that's the puzzle for tonight. Good stuff! As I said, Lynn, keep 'em coming!
Updated beginning late Sunday morning because I slept 'til 9:30 and have had a lazy morning:
Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "The Big Bailout"
I started this one last night on paper and left a couple trailing pen marks across the clue list when nodding off. Back in the day, I used to draw much longer sleepy lines, and right across the grid. So this is an improvement—but still a sign to put down the puzzle.
The clues in the upper left didn't feel too pliable, so I browsed the clue list (in a way I seldom do when solving in Across Lite or on the clock). Would you believe my first answer was 102A: ["Cross Creek" author's monogram]? Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, is that her name? MJK. I worked my way outward and upward from there and finished the puzzle this morning. The theme tells the story of Sid the Skydiver who becomes Sid the Stockbroker, using skydiving-related phrases to convey a rags-to-riches-to-prison business tale. I don't want to talk about that, though—instead, let's look at some unusual clues and answers:
Alan Arbesfeld's syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday "Daily Crossword," "Den of Thieves"
In the interest of time—since it's now afternoon here—let me point you to PuzzleGirl's L.A. Crossword Confidential post for more coverage of this puzzle. She said figuring out the theme right away helped in her solve—but it took me far too much of the puzzle to see what the theme was and it still fell quickly. Easy puzzle, as these things go.
My favorite of the "add-a-CON" theme entries is the CONDESCENDING COLON at 34A, [Patronizing part of the digestive tract?]. Sure, the clue could have repurposed the COLON as a punctuation mark (...somehow), but no, we still get intestines. It's always a little surprising to find poop-related organs in the crosswords—and as PuzzleGirl pointed out, that clued for 5D: DEAD, [Pooped out], gives another little echo of that.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's Boston Globe puzzle (in Across Lite), "Writer's Block"
Well, there's not much to say about a quote theme, is there? The surrounding fill and clues were pretty easy, so piecing together the quote wasn't as onerous as it could have been. The [Quip's author] is ROBERT FROST and his quote is THE BRAIN IS A / WONDERFUL / ORGAN. IT STARTS TO / WORK THE MOMENT YOU GET UP / IN THE / MORNING AND DOES NOT STOP / UNTIL YOU GET INTO / THE OFFICE. I did hit the skids at 51A: [Many a microbrew]. The answer is ALES. ALES are many a microbrew? The plural felt off to me. Am I wrong? I'm not sure.
Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge"
Yeesh, I didn't enjoy this puzzle. Two of the four 15s feel too contrived, too much of a stretch as crossword entries. [What the magician might pull] is A RABBIT FROM A HAT? Ouch. I thought magicians pulled rabbits out of a hat. And below it is [I] cluing ROMAN NUMERAL ONE, which doesn't feel like a stand-alone phrase to me. There are some odd-jobbers—CHEWERS, a SMIRKER, and STARERS. The CLEANER could be a cool job rather than [Pine-Sol, for one]—I'm thinking here of Harvey Keitel's Pulp Fiction character's job. Also in the Department of Clunky: the "dated" (according to my dictionary) noun TENSITY, RESTUDY clued as [Cram anew], and "I SEE NOW" clued as ["At last it's clear!"].
The brightest spot: SLIDERS, meaning mini-burgers, are clued as [Snacks at the bar]. That's pretty much the only lively way to clue this, and it's nice that it wasn't, say, [Base runners, at times] or [Kids at a playground, at times].
July 18, 2009