November 30, 2008

Monday, 12/1

Sun 3:47
LAT 3:14
CS 2:48
NYT 2:47

(post updated at 10:05 Monday morning)

December! What the...? How did that happen?

Vielen Dank to the Rätsel Mädchen, or Puzzle Girl. I just got home this evening and haven't had a chance to do any Sunday puzzles yet, so I haven't read her post about those crosswords. I'll bet it kicks ass, though.

The Monday New York Times crossword by Eric Platt is built around the phrase TURN ON A DIME. Inside my head, "stop on a dime" is the far more common phrase, but Google disagrees with me. In each of the other theme entries, a DIME turns around within. I'm not sure that "turn on a dime" is an apt description of "what the insides of 17-, 27- and 43-Across do"—the DIME turns, but the phrases sit there perfectly happy, DIME or no EMID. I like the mixed bag of theme answers: BETTE MIDLER, [The Divine Miss M]; a NURSE MIDWIFE, who is not just a [Birth mother's helper] but also a provider of routine gynecologic care in some jurisdictions (you wanted to know that, I'm sure); and an adjective, SEMI-DETACHED, or [Connected on only one side, as a town house].

I think this crossword may mark Mr. Platt's debut—nice work, as the fill includes some lively longer answers, such as RIGMAROLE and a LIFE-SIZED STERNUM.


My favorite Monday puzzle this week is Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy crossword, "Do the Twist." This one features three 15-letter theme entries, a fairly low word count for a themed puzzle (74 answers), six 9-letter answers stacked with or crossing the theme entries, and smooth fill with accessible, Monday-grade clues. The theme answers all end with a word that does a "twist": UP AROUND THE BEND is a [1970 Creedence Clearwater Revival hit] I don't think I know. [Forward-thinking] means AHEAD OF THE CURVE. And [Says something inappropriate] is SPEAKS OUT OF TURN. In the fill, STOMACHED is clued [Put up with] and might just as easily have been TOLERATED. [Ironman competition parts] are MARATHONS. And look at the non-crosswordese river in the grid—the EUPHRATES is a [Major Iraqi river] that doesn't get much play in crosswords.

Tony Orbach's Sun crossword, "Five of Twelve," expands to a 15x16 grid to accommodate a 6-letter theme entry in the center. Each of the five theme entries is a famous person whose first or last name is also a month. AUGUST WILSON, the [Pulitzer-winning "Fences" playwright], was my only gimme. I can't say that I've heard of LEE MAY, the [Baltimore Orioles player who led the A.L. in RBIs in 1976]. The three actors—FREDRIC MARCH, JANUARY JONES, and JUNE LOCKHART—made me work from the crossings more. Did you notice that the theme entries appear in calendar order, with JANUARY at the left and AUGUST on the right? Nice touch.

Robert Morris's LA Times crossword has four theme entries that begin with a kind of LANE (50-Down):

  • [Electronic storage component] is a MEMORY BOARD, and you might take a trip down memory lane.
  • The [Post office's answer to FedEx] is EXPRESS MAIL, and traffic (usually) moves faster in the express lane.
  • FIRE HAZARD is a [Building inspector's concern], and don't park in the fire lane if you don't want your car ticketed or towed.
  • A [Con man] is a FAST TALKER, and some folks live life in the fast lane.
Favorite clues and answers: [Homer's wife] is MARGE Simpson, but I was thinking of Homer's character Odysseus's wife, Penelope. To [Put a previously tested system into operation] is to GO LIVE. FARM AID is an [Annual agricultural benefit concert]. The colloquial "I'M DEAD" is clued ["It's curtains for me"].