January 13, 2007

Sunday, 1/14

WaPo 8:38
NYT 8:34
LAT 8:05
BG 7:45
CS 4:05

I liked the theme in Harvey Estes' NYT crossword, "Sounds of Old," in which he recasts words that end with "old" into their rhymes. My particular favorite (I don't know why) was [Comment about suddenly thinner mares?], I KNEW THEY'D FOALED (rather than "fold"). The answer to [Opera singer Simon] is ESTES, so I checked the Cruciverb database to see if Harvey's used his conveniently lettered surname in other puzzles—yep. Mostly clued with '50s pol Estes Kefauver, but also actor Rob Estes and Estes Park, Colorado. (I checked a few other constructor names that show up in crosswords, but KAHN, WALDEN, and SALOMON haven't used themselves; Longo has used LONG O in a non-Cruciverb-indexed puzzle.) I appreciated the clue for BULGARIA, [Birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet]; do you know how hard it is to think of famous Bulgarians? Really. See how many of these people you recognize; I know two, the soccer player Hristo Stoichkov and the artist Christo (did you know he was Bulgarian?). Oh, and the tennis-playing Maleeva sisters. Very low-key society; maybe the nation is full of people who keep to themselves. Anyone else think the "Blame It on the Bossa Nova" singer was Mel Torme rather than Eydie GORME? I'm glad the crossing wasn't a short word that could plausibly start with G or T (say, *OT), or I might've skipped reading the clue and had one of those where's-the-flippin'-typo applet freakouts. No need for that.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's Boston Globe puzzle, "Egomania," an "I" forces its way into assorted phrases. The best ones, I thought, were the ones up top: SITAR WARS and SALIVATION ARMY. I learned a new word in this puzzle: TERTIAN, or [Every other day].

In his Washington Post crossword, "What's My Line," Charles Barasch gathers phrases that could be described by various kinds of "lines," such as [Property line?] and [Fine line?]. He changes each of the nine lines from a physical or metaphorical one into a spoken line—so the "property line" is MINE, ALL MINE. Cute theme, yes?

Leonard Williams' LA Times syndicated crossword, "Verbification," inserts an -IZED into certain phrases to verbify them. A Canon copier becomes [Saintly scribe?], or CANONIZED COPIER. (Next round of obscure-ish word learning for the day: SAMI, clued as [Scandinavian language from which we get "tundra"], is a group of Finno-Ugric languages of the nomadic Lapps. I would've guessed "tundra" came from Russian, and it does—but the Russians borrowed the word from the Sami. "Tundra" is the only Sami word that's remotely well known in English.)

I really liked Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy themeless. (Might be a wind-aided solving time—I saw the spoilers in Dave M.'s comment before I did the crossword.) Deliciously Scrabbly, and not just with the rarest letters. The Scrabbliciousness of a word like ZOMBIES (crossing the vampire SLAYERS!) or ZIGGY includes the mid-range M, B, and G's, and this grid's also got a lot of V's. Favorite clue: [They help people choose sides] for MENUS.