BEQ 5:12 when I gave up on 2 squares, which eventually came to me
David Quarfoot's New York Times crossword
Yay! A new David Quarfoot puzzle! If you know his work, you got what you were expecting: A crossword filled with lively phrases and names, with plenty of Scrabbly letters in the mix. There's so much juicy stuff here. To wit:
I had a big "huh?" moment with 27A. Were you hoping for a fresh clue for EBOLI, like ["Don Carlos" princess]? Or were you hoping not to see that answer at all?
This one settled in at the usual Friday level of toughness for me. How about you?
Cathy Allis's Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, "Roman Numerals"
Oh! Another Cathy Allis crossword. Seeing her name in the byline spurred me to go print out the last couple GeoPuzzles from National Geographic. (October's puzzle is about the Sahara and September's is orchids.)
The theme's got nothing to do with I, V, X, L, C, D, M Roman numerals—instead, it's the numbers used in modern Rome, in the service of puns:
Rome came into play elsewhere, too. LATIN is 52A: [Source of much legalese], ET TU is 23D: [Ides rebuke], ERAT is 23A: [Part of QED], and the TOGA is 50A: [Forum wrap]. Scooch over to France for ADIEU, or 26D: [Farewell], and to partially Francophone Canada for 45D: [Former Canadian Prime Minister Lester] PEARSON. Head back to Europe for ODESSA, a 33A: [Ukraine port], and the TSAR, or 55D: [Ruler's title derived from "Caesar"]. Then head down to the Middle East—EL AL is 13D: [Matmid Frequent Flyer Club airline], the RIYAL is 30D: [Saudi coin], and everybody's near Turkey. I wasn't sure which IRA* country I needed for 14A: [Neighbor of Turkey]—IRAQ or IRAN? It's IRAN here, but down at 59A, the other [Neighbor of Turkey] calls for IRAQ.
Dan Naddor's Los Angeles Times crossword
I love this "GO crazy" theme. There are five familiar phrases to which you can append a GO and completely change the gist of the phrase:
I went to onelook.com to find other ___go words that could lend themselves to this sort of theme. Sheepish grin(go). Clown car(go). "Hola, chica"(go). Deafening din(go). Duran(go) Duran(go), with lead singer Simon Le(go) Bon(go). A Bridge Too Far(go). "Ain't we got fun"(go). "Bain de Soleil for the St. Tropez tan"(go). So Dan didn't exhaust all the possibilities, no, but he did come up with a fun way to build a theme and created some surprising combos. The mental whiplash from Asia turning into ASIAGO and Maya Lin becoming MAYAN LINGO was terrific, just what I like in a late-week themed puzzle. Ideally, the non-theme clues would be tougher, but it was still a satisfying solve.
Highlights in the fill: DENNY'S restaurant, the TOP BRASS, ANN ARBOR, WHISPERS (clued well as [Library volumes?]), and T.S. GARP ([Fictional author of "The World According to Bensenhaver"] in the John Irving novel The World According to Garp).
Updated Friday morning:
Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Just Visiting"—Janie's review
That is one beautiful, open grid. Don't let it frighten you! Yes, the word count is a low-end 72 (low-end for a themed puzzle), but don't let this frighten you either! In fact, any words of advice I can give you as you approach this puzzle can be paraphrased by incorporating today's theme-fill (if not the theme) itself. The theme sketches out the three phases of a visit with three little words in long and lively phrases. And they are:
While perhaps not imbued with the immortality of "veni, vidi, vici," the tri-part "come, stay, go" will resonate with anyone who's been a house guest or been host to one—and the one-two (-three) punch made me laugh out loud. It also made me think of (what sounds to me like) the verse to "Hooray for Captain Spaulding" from the Marx brothers' Animal Crackers, which begins with Groucho's singing "Hello, I must be going." (This lyric is also the title of a Groucho biography). If you're unfamiliar with the song or would like a reminder of what zany is all about, this link's for you.
When a composer's or [Musical arranger's work]—a SCORE—has been performed particularly well or is particularly crowd-pleasing, the audience may register their enthusiasm by shouting "ENCORE!" in their quest for ["More!"]. Stage actors sometimes hear this after a performance. I imagine (Sir) LAURENCE [Actor Olivier] heard it more than once in his long and illustrious career.
While most of the cluing is pretty straightforward today, I'll just list some of the other fill that helped give this puzzle its oomph—namely, COCONUTS ([with "The"], the title of another Marx brothers movie in fact), TAPESTRIES, ANIMOSITY, JUICE and JOTTING, and TIME BOMB, of course. Some serious "oomph" there!
Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "Progressive Thinking—Flute solos optional"
The subtitle reminded me that Brendan was crowd-sourcing prog rock bands via Twitter and Facebook this week. So he wasn't looking for iTunes recommendations, he was looking for theme fodder. I ponied up with "ELO?" and was pleased to see it made the cut—repurposed as the chess term ELO RATING (36A: [Gary Kasparov's was 2853]). The other theme entries:
My favorite word in the fill: 44D: OROGENY, or [Mountain-making process, in geology]. Orogeny recapitulates...no, that's not right. Someday I'll make a science nerd puzzle with OROGENOUS ZONES in it.
Harvey Estes' Wall Street Journal crossword, "Come Together"
The grid's got left/right symmetry instead of the standard rotational crossword symmetry, and the theme entries don't occupy much real estate. That means there's more room for lively fill, and Harvey's also loaded up on great clues. The drop-a-letter theme has a grander purpose—the letters dropped from each song title, in order, spell out something apt. Here's how the theme unfurls:
Among the zippier fill were words and phrases like GET BENT, DINGBAT, SHEBANG, and SOAPBOX, along with these ones with clues I enjoyed:
Overall, I'll give this puzzle a solid A for excellence.
October 08, 2009