September 21, 2008

Monday, 9/22

Jonesin' 3:29
NYS 3:18
CS 3:16
LAT 2:53
NYT 2:44

(updated ta 4 p.m. Monday)

We're having fun over at the new Crossword Fiend forums. There's a link atop the sidebar to your right. If you haven't taken a peek yet, swing on by.

The Monday New York Times crossword by Peter Collins cages some beasties in the circled squares within the theme entries:

  • There's a seal in CRUISE ALONG, or [Proceed effortlessly].
  • A gnu resides in LUG NUTS, clued with [Tire irons loosen them].
  • A bear lurks within the [1972 hit for the Spinners], "I'LL BE AROUND.
  • NOT AS ABLE, or [Less competent], hides a sable. This phrase seems the least ready for crossword prime time.
  • A camel traverses the desert of CAME LATER, or [Ensued].

These animals can also be found in THE / ZOO, 11- and 66-Across. The Collins crossword includes some energetic fill, too—SNOW DAYS and a CATCH-ALL were particularly nice.

Some of the non-thematic fill struck me as a bit of a reach for a beginning Monday solver. A [Sacred song] is a MOTET, and ORA [___ pro nobis (pray for us: Lat.)] also has a sacred bent. The last name of [Michael ___, Cochise player in 1950s TV] is ANSARA, and I learned that from crosswords. Crosswords contain many four-letter river names; the AMUR, a [Russia/China border river], feels a little less common than the Oder, Ebro, and Arno. [Political cartoonist Thomas] NAST pops up pretty often in crosswords; he was big in the 19th century. The [Old Olds] is the Oldsmobile ALERO, among the more common car names in crosswords even though it's been discontinued. RONA [Jaffe who wrote "Five Women"] also wrote Class Reunion, which I read back in the '80s. I don't know that she has any literary or popular importance these days.


The Sun crosswords for the week haven't been posted yet—but the New York Sun website is up and reporting moral support from various parties, so I think the puzzles will be along later today.

Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy crossword, "Stewardship," has a quote theme. Ordinarily I don't much care for quote/quip themes, but I appreciated this W.C. Fields quote: I ALWAYS COOK / WITH WINE. / SOMETIMES / I EVEN ADD / IT TO THE FOOD. With 18 7-letter entries in the fill, this puzzle's got a fairly low word count (74) for a themed puzzle. I had no idea why [Netherlands province] is HOLLAND. According to Wikipedia, North and South Holland are provinces in the Netherlands, and the English-speaking habit of calling the country "Holland" is just plain wrong. I have a Dutch uncle (born over there in the '40s), and I never knew this. Learn something new every day! Overall, this seemed like one of the easiest Klahn crosswords in recent memory, didn't it?

Kurt Mengel and Jan-Michele Gianette have teamed up again for an LA Times crossword with sort of a bi theme—each theme entry is the title of a work of art that begins with a synonymous word.
  • TWICE-TOLD TALES is a [Hawthorne collection of previously published stories].
  • DOUBLE FANTASY is the famous [Ono/Lennon album].
  • TWO FOR THE ROAD is a [1967 Finney/Hepburn film].
  • SECOND HAND ROSE is a [Fanny Brice song that was a Streisand hit].
Bonus points for including BEFUDDLE, or [Confuse], in the fill. Great word!

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "On an Axis," takes each theme entry from the X axis to the Y axis, in a sense. Five words or phrases that begin with X and end with Y give the puzzle a Scrabbly vibe: XAVIER UNIVERSITY is the [Cincinnati home of the Musketeers]. XEROGRAPHY is the [Technique used by photocopiers]. [Actor who played George Mason on "24"] is ZANDER BERKELEY (don't know him). [Marvel Comics series, as of February 2008], is X-MEN LEGACY. And the XINHUA NEWS AGENCY is the [Official press group of the Chinese government]; this one aptly intersects with DENG Xiaoping. Lots of X action!

Updated again:

This week's Sun crosswords are up now. Just in case the newspaper closes up shop before October 3, you might want to do what I did—go to Will Johnston's Puzzle Pointers page and download this week and next week's Suns.

Justin Smith's New York Sun puzzle, "How Does It Feel?", is not about Bob Dylan, thankfully. (I don't like Bob Dylan's sound. So sue me.) Rather, the theme entries are all phrases that begin with distinctly tactile adjectives. FUZZY LOGIC, a SOFT SHOULDER of the road, a metaphorical STICKY WICKET, and SMOOTH JAZZ. Three of these things you can't really touch, and the one you can touch isn't actually soft. I'm not that fond of MR. GOODBAR, the Hershey bar with waxy milk chocolate and peanuts, but it makes for a wunderbar crossword answer. Favorite clue: [TV character who got notes signed "Epstein's Mother"] for Mr. KOTTER of '70s TV. I'm also a fan of the letter Z (Trip Payne can have his Q), and here there are six of 'em, garnished with a Q and an X.