March 28, 2007

Thursday, 3/29

NYS 4:54
NYT 4:36
Jonesin' 4:09
LAT 4:08
CS 3:19

(updated at 7:30 a.m. and again—with the Jonesin' puzzle—at 5 p.m. Thursday)

One of the fun parts of working on How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle was choosing some of my favorite Times puzzles and constructors. Several of the 50 or so constructors represented have more than one crossword in the book—David J. Kahn is one of them. And here he is again with a Thursday NYT crossword with an unusual-looking theme. The theme is four famous Dianes spelled various ways, so there's a 15-letter DIANNE FEINSTEIN running across the middle of the grid and intersecting three shorter Down entries, DYAN CANNON, DIANE LANE, and DIAN FOSSEY. (The longest Down entries are unrelated, though.) A goodly amount of pop culture here, aside from the two actresses in the theme—there's JUDE LAW, ANNETTE Funicello, Jennifer ANISTON, and the Gene Hackman character Harry CAUL (though the word caul has some bizarre meanings, too). Favorite clues and entries: TAKE IT OUT ON, [Part of São Paulo] for TILDE, EAT DIRT, UNICORN, [Kind of shelter] for TAX, and POST-IT.

The Sun crossword by John R. Conrad is called "DEF Jam" because all the entries begin with D, E, or F. It's not a gimmick that leads to particularly interesting fill—EEEE, DEEE, DEDE? D'oh, egad, and feh. I liked [Stopping point?] for DIME and the TV nostaliga shout-out of [Murphy who played Tabitha on "Bewitched"] for ERIN (here's a kid picture as Tabitha).


Loved the theme in Karen Tracey's LA Times puzzle, which gathers three things that end with INFERNO, PURGATORY, and PARADISE, and sums them up with THE DIVINE COMEDY. I took a class on Dante in college. Go ahead—ask me how much I remember! (Sigh.) I rather liked the clue [Early development sites?] for UTERI and its combination with ab OVO. [Right in the head] is SANE—how often is that phrase used in the positive rather than "not quite right in the head?"

Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy puzzle features phrases that start with famous casinos. Nice little extra to have both EBONY and IVORY in the fill. How do you feel about SANDY Koufax and SANDS OF TIME appearing in the same grid?

It's a blog updating frenzy!

Matt Jones' crossword for this week is called "Soy What?" I am tempted to answer, of course, "Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan." I liked two of the soy-based theme entries, YOU MAKE MISO MAD (MISO HORNY was too short to work, I suppose) and TEMPEH TANTRUMS. The third one, EVERYBODY / PLAYS TOFU, mystified me because I'd never heard of '70s soul group The Main Ingredient, nor their song, "Everybody Plays the Fool." I was nostalgically delighted to see the hoary FILMSTRIP rear its celluloid head. (Please, if you have any comments on this puzzle, please mangle as many metaphors as you can. Don't leave me hangin' here.)