December 14, 2008

Monday, 12/15

Sun 3:12
LAT 2:53
CS 2:45
NYT 2:19

(updated at 10 a.m. Monday)

See that yellow box to the right? If you click there, it'll take you to If you like crosswords that eschew the same ol' junk that's been in crosswords since the dawn of time (i.e., the 1920s), shell out a few bucks ($12.50, to be exact) to subscribe to the Sun crossword online. Many of the finest crossword constructors in the business make Sun puzzles, so you'll get your money's worth. The Sun's especially tempting for those of us who hanker for tough puzzles—they're often a couple notches harder than the NYT crossword. Click on the yellow box to learn more.

Susan Gelfand's New York Times puzzle dishes out authorial meats and desserts—with desserts first, as is my preference.

  • POUND CAKES are [Poet Ezra's favorite desserts?]. Pound cake in the singular would fit the theme better, but I cannot possibly object to the idea of having a butter pound cake, a marble pound cake, and a lemon pound cake on the table.
  • [Writer Anne's favorite dessert?] is RICE PUDDING.
  • [Writer Jack's favorite entree?] is LONDON BROIL.
  • [Essayist Charles's favorite entree?] is LAMB SHANKS. How often does this guy make it into a crossword with his actual name? Usually it's his weird pseudonym ELIA instead.
I like the echoes between some of the fill answers. You can take a SUNBATH (of course, you'd call it sunbathing and not taking a sunbath, unless you talk funny) beneath an AZURE sky. SERBIA, the land from which Rod Blagojevich is descended, sits atop OILY, clued in a non-political manner ([Opposite of dry, as hair] does not describe Blago's Lego-style hair). SNUG and SMUG are just a letter off. Randy and Dennis QUAID are BROS. A tart LIME might make you PUCKER. DOODAD and PSHAW are both fun words—and TUSSLE, too.

Jim Hyres' Sun crossword, "Table Talk," wasn't hard to solve, but I had to reread the completed theme answers a few times to see what the theme was. It's a poker table or something along those lines, as the theme entries begin with words you might hear around the card table—FOLD THE LAUNDRY, CALL WAITING, RAISE A STINK, and ALL IN THE FAMILY. That last one's particularly nice, with the first two words of the classic sitcom's title playing a role in the theme. Favorite fill entry: ALARM CLOCK, 10 letters, crossing two theme answers and piling up four consonants in a row in the middle. Favorite clue: [Teapot contents?] for a TEMPEST in a teapot.


Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Top Level," begins its three 15-letter entries with sort-of-synonymous words:
  • GREAT WHITE SHARK is an [Ocean menace].
  • MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM is clued as the [New York Yankees, for one].
  • [Important documents] clues VITAL STATISTICS. I don't think of vital statistics as printed documents so much as the data that appears in key printed documents.
This 74-word grid has stacked pairs of 7-letter grids attached to the 15's at the top and bottom, and ITALIAN LIRA ([Former currency unit in Rome]) connects the three 15's. How many other 11-letter answers start with an I, end with an A, and have an A in the middle? Maybe IMNOTAZEBRA? Yeah, that's not showing up as a standard crossword entry.

Timothy Meaker's LA Times crossword plants a MARSHAL in the middle of the grid to accompany the first words of the four longer theme entries:
  • [Contest winner's reward] is the GRAND PRIZE. Parades traditionally have grand marshals, though I don't know why.
  • [Blaze arrival] is a FIRE ENGINE. Fire marshal means different things in various locales.
  • [Discus or shot put] is a FIELD EVENT. A field marshal is an officer of the highest rank in the British army.
  • [Chicago's Sears Tower, for one] is a SKYSCRAPER. I call sky marshals "air marshals."