June 01, 2008

Monday, 6/2

CS 2:55
LAT 2:50
NYT 2:42
NYS 2:28

Newsflash: The Jonesin' crossword will now be available in the user-friendly Across Lite format. You can download this week's puzzle at the Jonesin' Google Groups page rather than waiting until Thursday. Join the Google Group to receive each week's puzzle via e-mail, usually on Sunday or Monday. Starting next week, I plan to start blogging about the Jonesin' puzzle on Mondays. Hooray for something new to do on Mondays! (So click the link and sign up, will you?)

I think the New York Times crossword marks Barry Boone's constructing debut. Running the full height of the grid, 7-Down reads THE FOUR ELEMENTS. Those four elements appear at the beginning of the other four theme entries: FIREARM, or [Heater or repeater]); EARTH ORBIT, or [Revolutionary pattern of the moon]; WATERCOLOR, or [Non-oil painting method]; and AIRDATE, or [TV Guide info]. All four element theme entries intersect the long vertical theme entry, which is a nice touch. My favorite fill is the long stuff: DAN RATHER, [Predecessor of Katie Couric] at CBS News; ESCALATOR, or [Lazy person's stairs?]; LOST CAUSE, exemplified by [The Civil War, for the Confederacy]; and ROY ROGERS, a [Trigger man?] because his horse was named Trigger. My least favorite answer is VEAL, [Calves' meat]. Aww, poor calves. Completely unnecessary, given that HEAL/HATS, MEAL/MATS, NEAL/NATS, and PEAL/PATS could all have been used instead. It's not as if the V was needed to achieve a pangram—there's no Q and there is another V in the grid. JEEZ (19-Across!), if one is compelled to include VEAL in the grid, can we go with [___ scallopine] rather than evoking baby cows sent to slaughter? /soapbox

Michael Wiesenberg's New York Sun crossword is a rarity: an early-week Sun puzzle that's easier than the NYT puzzle of the same day. The "Feathered Friends" theme includes four names (two fictional, two real) in which the surname is a type of bird. No, not Clarice Starling, Caroline Rhea, Rita Dove, Frasier Crane, Jonathan Swift, Sheryl Crow, or Peter Finch. Here we have LAURIE PARTRIDGE, Susan Dey's character on The Partridge Family; comedian STEVE MARTIN; Captain JACK SPARROW, Johnny Depp's ubiquitous Caribbean pirate; and architect CHRISTOPHER WREN. Now, I'm wondering if there's something more to the theme, because Peter Gordon tends to insist on fresh, tight themes. Why these four names and not any of those others?


Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy crossword, "Jazz Instruction," gives as a quip some instructions for a jazz musician: YOU PLAY ALL THE / RIGHT NOTES BUT IN / THE WRONG ORDER. Highlights in the fill: SLALOM crossing SALAAM; Springsteen's song BORN TO RUN; actress KATHY BATES; and GUN-SHY, or [Cautious, so to speak]. GUN-SHY crossed a couple unfamiliar, non-Mondayish answers: [Concerto ___ (Baroque musical form)] is completed by GROSSO, and [19th century Chief Justice Roger __] is TANEY. The R in GROSSO comes from another unfamiliar word, REE, as in [Mr. ___ (old board game similar to Clue)].

The LA Times crossword is by Nancy Salomon. The first two theme entries are [Unanimated] similes—DULL AS DISHWATER and STIFF AS A BOARD—while the third one ups the ante with [Unanimated, to the max], or DEAD AS A DOORNAIL. There's a legume undercurrent in the fill—PEA SOUP is a [Fog metaphor] while a BEANPOLE is a [Tall and thin person]. There are also a couple drinking-related entries: ADDICT is [One who can't get enough], and NOT SOBER is [Tipsy and then some]. I don't care for NOT SOBER as a fill entry—it doesn't feel qualitatively different from, say, NOT HUNGRY or NOT MAD.