January 20, 2007

Sunday, 1/21

LAT 8:58
WaPo 8:53
BG 8:48
NYT 7:38
CS 5:35

(post updated at noon Sunday)

In his NYT crossword, "Kareem of the Crop" (such a fun theme!), Patrick Berry includes a lot of famous women in the grid: NAOMI JUDD, DIANE LANE, MARLENE Dietrich, IDA LUPINO, Steffi GRAF, Elinor WYLIE, ANASTASIA, CLEOPATRA, and NORAH O'Donnell. Poor ERIN Moran was dumped in favor of "___ go bragh!" Nine women vs. seven theme entries—women win!

I really liked the theme—Patrick took a juicy assortment of base phrases like Soul Train, pro-choice, and Falcon Crest and massaged them into SOUL TERRAIN, PEROT CHOICE, and FALCON CARESSED by adding a schwa (or another sound not strikingly different from a schwa). The fill indirectly taught me something about birds. OSCINE, clued as [Like a crow or lark], is a broad term for songbirds (as opposed to waterfowl, ratites, etc.), and—believe it or not—crows are in that category, even though their raucous caw is a horrible sound. Anyone else try both BETAMAX and WALKMAN (which are older) before hitting on DISCMAN at 4-Down? And does anyone else ever use the [sailor's yell], "Hard ALEE!" in non-boating contexts? Such as, say, on a Tilt-a-Whirl, or when pushing a grocery cart?


Geography + anagrams = HYPER-AGOG! In other, more comprehensible, terms, I loved Patrick Blindauer's Washington Post puzzle, "Capital Shakeups," featuring state capitals and their anagrams. The first one I got was RALEIGH LEG HAIR, so I was sold immediately. I'd love to see Patrick's list of unused possibilities for this theme!

Henry Hook's recent Boston Globe puzzle, "When I Grow Up," matures Lamborghini and John Coltrane into SHEEPORGHINI and JOHN HORSERANE; the theme includes five other phrases in which the young animals grow up. Not as cute as puppies, but cute all the same. Notably, over a dozen entries end with the letter I.

Levi Denham's LA Times syndicated puzzle, "Periodically Speaking," had me thinking I should be on the lookout for chemical elements in the theme. Nope, periodicals—each theme entry, clued straightforwardly, begins with the name of a magazine.

Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge is tough but not too tough.