July 01, 2008

Wednesday, 7/2

NYS 5:22
LAT 4:00
NYT 3:20
CS 2:53

How nifty is Daniel Kantor's theme in the New York Times crossword? I give the theme four stars for its cleverness. The [1986 Newman/Cruise film] is THE COLOR OF MONEY. What color is money? Green (in the U.S.). One [Ritzy delicacy] is BELUGA CAVIAR. What's caviar? Fish eggs. A [Showboating type] is a GRANDSTANDER. What's another word for such a person? A ham. What's the fourth theme entry? GREEN EGGS AND HAM, a [Dr. Seuss book ... or a description of the answers to the three starred clues]. From the non-thematic clues, I learned that the BOSC pear is ["The aristocrat of pears"]. Kendo is a Japanese form of fencing, so a [Kendo motion] is a LUNGE. BRAT (bratwurst) is the preferred [Grill option, for short] for many Wisconsinites. [Symbols of industry] can be both industrious ANTS and corporate LOGOS.

James Sajdak's New York Sun crossword is called "Last Gasps," and the final word in each theme entry is re-spelled to represent some sort of gasp. The Wizard of Oz turns into THE WIZARD OF AHS, a [Throat doctor's nickname?]. Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" becomes PURPLE HEYS. A short fuse is transformed into SHORT PHEWS, or [Quick breaths of relief]. The primordial ooze is recycled into PRIMORDIAL OOHS. Highlights in the fill include DC COMICS, a bunch of Scrabbly words (ALTO SAX, QUIT, ZIGS, ZAP, WHISKS), AU JUS, and PANACHE—not to mention FIENDS clued as [Buffs]. Indeed! ["The Quest for ___" (John le Carre trilogy)] was a new one on me—the answer's KARLA.


Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Re Assessments," has four kinds of educational assessment tools for specific occupational categories, and while the theme description may be clunky, the theme itself is fun:

  • [Assessments given to cosmetologists?] are MAKEUP EXAMS.
  • [Assessments given to teamsters?] are SEMI FINALS.
  • [Assessments given to soda jerks?] are POP QUIZZES.
  • [Assessments given to computer repairmen?] are SCREEN TESTS.

Joy Frank's LA Times crossword hinges on slangy words for thievery. Thieves might be said to lift, steal, take, or pinch their quarry, and the theme entries are standard phrases clued as if they were terms for thieves. A [Piggy bank thief?] might be a PENNY PINCHER, for example, and a [Theater thief?] a SCENE STEALER. I like those two and [Gym thief?], or WEIGHT LIFTER, but MESSAGE TAKER ([Office thief?]) seems less natural a phrase. Is it substantively different from a phrase such as "phone answerer"?