LAT 8:15ish, if I recall correctly
Patrick Berry's New York Times crossword, "Group Formation"
This is definitely a challenging puzzle, this Sunday-sized beast with 12 rebus squares containing, I think,
10 11 different GREEK LETTERS (with THETA and PHI appearing twice) but with 14 13 other Greek letters floating in the ether as candidate rebus fillers. The theme is embodied by 108A: FRATERNITIES, or [Four groups found in this puzzle], whose names are each made up of three GREEK LETTERS (23A: [Contents of four answers found in this puzzle]. Mind you, if you filled in your grid with the actual Greek letters rather than their spelled-out English names, you'd have a dickens of a time with the crossings—those 12 answers are non-thematic but contain a spelled-out Greek character. Here are the frats (found in symmetrical spots in the grid) and their crossings: THETA DELTA PHI. The TAU is in 14D: GREAT AUNT, or [Social reformer Margaret Fuller, to Buckminster Fuller]. THETA DELTA inhabits something I've never heard of, 35D: THE TACODEL TACO, a [Mexican-style fast-food chain]. And this PHI instance is part of 26D: SOPHIE, an early [Meryl Streep title role]. (Edited to say: Well, that's odd. The applet accepted a T for THETA where it should have demanded a D for DELTA. How the hell are you supposed to know you need a completely different unfamiliar fast-food chain if the applet accepts your incorrect answer??)
Now, that's a demanding theme for the solver to piece together—not to mention a phenomenal feat of construction. The task of filling in the puzzle wasn't made any easier by the overall cluing, was it? Here are some of the tougher spots, if you ask me:
And these were the entries I thought were really cool:
Updated Sunday morning:
There's a lot to do to get ready for vacation—the repotted herbs don't look properly planted, we haven't started packing at all, I need to charge up the laptop, I gotta test-solve puzzles for Brian and Ryan's Lollapuzzoola 2 tournament (top-notch constructors!), and there are still so many crosswords to blog about today. Can I finish before lunchtime? I'm going to try!
Nancy Salomon's syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, "At the Y"
The theme entries contain one or two added Ys that change the meaning. My favorites:
For more on this puzzle, I refer you to PuzzleGirl's L.A. Crossword Confidential review.
Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "None of Your Business"
Merl's theme answers are 13 companies, some (e.g., TIME WARNER, PRICE WATERHOUSE) with old names. Merl annotates the puzzle with this explanation: "Some of the companies in this puzzle have gone through mergers in recent years, but I'm using their earlier, simpler names." Each is clued [It doesn't sell ___], with various things filling in the blank. 82D: RUBBERMAID is clued [It doesn't sell inflatable dolls]. Eww! 127A: UPJOHN gets [It doesn't sell toilet seats]; 72A: PRICE WATERHOUSE is [It doesn't sell pay toilets]. Two toilet theme clues! We don't see that often. My first thought for 26A: [It doesn't sell Band-Aids] was CURAD (before I knew what the theme was), but it's HERTZ, which sounds like "hurts."
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's Boston Globe crossword, "Gimme Five"
Each of the 10 theme entries contains a different letter five times. I don't think the specific letters have any grander meaning. In order, they're ASOLIRTNEP, which can be anagrammed to..."STOP! I LEARN!"...or POSTAL REIN...or POLE STRAIN. Okay, I think they're just 10 random letters. LUCILLE BALL is a [Comedy star with five] Ls. "TUTTI FRUTTI" is the [Little Richard hit with five] Ts. PRIMITIVISTIC is a not-so-common word meaning [Quite simple, with five] Is. And so it goes.
There were a couple answers that were wildly unfamiliar to me. 93A is clued [A.k.a. gannet] and the answer is SOLAN. The dictionary tells me the solan, or solan goose, is another name for the northern gannet, and gannets in general are large seabirds with mostly white plumage that plunge-dive to catch fish. The crossings were pretty straightforward, so I got this answer, I just didn't recognize it.
The other mystery word was 6D: ["Roman de Brut" poet]. WACE? That W was my last letter, because the crossing [Tape-measured area] wasn't necessarily going to be a body part like the WAIST. Who is Wace? Turns out he was an Anglo-Norman poet about 850 years ago. "Roman de Brut" "is a verse literary history of Britain by the poet Wace. Written in the Norman language, it consists of 14,866 lines."—so says Wikipedia. I can't read Norman. My high school didn't offer the language.
Randolph Ross's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge"
Nobody seems to have paid the slightest attention to the changing highlight colors in my Across Lite solution grids. At Rex Parker's blog and at L.A. Crossword Confidential, newcomers often ask "What is the significance of the blue square?" They're sure they're missing something important, but no. The color scheme in this puzzle is courtesy of my son. Looks like Valentine's Day to me.
Now, as to the letters in the crossword: My favorite part of this puzzle is the 1A/15A/17A stack:
Some of the fill feels like the sort of language we encounter mainly in crosswords:
You know how ONE LOOK should've been clued, rather than 37A: [Brief peek]? As [Web site that can help you fill in the blanks in a crossword puzzle]. onelook.com is handy when you're constructing by hand and need to know what words will fit a particular letter pattern. ?N?L??K, for example, could also be unblock, unsleek, uncloak, and some other things that would make unsuitable crossword fill.
August 01, 2009