I’m heading out with the family to catch Avatar and won’t be back until the a few hours after the NYT crossword comes out. I do know what the empty grid looks like, though—it’s got some rows with gray shading and some dotted lines. See for yourself here. (Apparently the puzzle’s title also explains the shading and lines.) The clues will be released with the puzzle at 6 pm Eastern time, as usual. I don’t think the applet or Across Lite have any way to render the shading or the dotted lines, and the printed Magazine version of the puzzle also has some sort of glitch. So…use your imagination to compile two versions of the puzzle if need be.
Feel free to start the puzzle chat before I write about the puzzle. And if you’re one of the esteemed members of the Fiend Scooby crew and feel inclined to post the answer grid in my absence, have at it. (Done – Jeffrey)
David Kwong and Kevan Choset’s “Abridged Edition” New York Times Crossword
Here’s a link to the folded paper version.
Many thanks to Jeffrey for posting the grid and the link to the folded version. I had printed out the blank grid that I linked to this afternoon, and after I finished the puzzle in the applet, I filled in the shaded entries with the answers from the circled squares, and folded the puzzle MAD MAGAZINE ([83A: [Publication founded in 1952 featuring artwork that does the same thing as this puzzle]) style. The instructions in 7D and 14D spell out FOLD PAGE SO A AND B ARE LINED / UP IN THE TOP AND BOTTOM ROWS. At first I was underwhelmed by the unrelated words that appeared, and then I realized they were theme entries—all things that can be folded. There’s a LAWN CHAIR, ORIGAMI, BEDSHEETS, a POKER HAND, the LAUNDRY, and—as is done right here with this puzzle, and quite often on the puzzle page in the daily paper—a NEWSPAPER.
That’s a nifty trick, but the rest of the puzzle, aside from 83A and the instructions, is essentially themeless. By this, I mean that the letters that go into POKER HAND come from POKE AT and OVERHAND, which are unrelated. And the words in the shaded/ circled squares in the middle of those rows aren’t working for the theme—they’re just there. And then there’s all the rest of the fill—nothing too memorable, very little in the way of long fill, not a lot of spice in the clues.
Clues and answers worthy of comment:
- 13D. LICE are clued as [Woe for Fido]. Dogs get lice? Since when? Why have I never heard this?
- 90A. [Run longer than expected] clues END LATE, which doesn’t quite reach the bar for good fill, I don’t think.
- 72A. SCAG! It was from crosswords that I learned that SCAG is [Heroin, slangily]. Do junkies still call it SCAG?
- 132D. The TAPIR is an [Animal with four toes on its front feet and three toes on its back feet]. Word to the wise: If you can’t see the toes because the tapir has its rear end facing you, step back lest it shoot pee at you. The liquid jet goes surprisingly far.
- 131D. I’m always a fan of Tycho BRAHE, the [Astronomer who lost part of his nose in a duel], especially when the clue alludes to that nose problem.
Quasi-crosswordese fill—or should I say “fill that didn’t do much for me”—includes ONER, B-TEN, plural names ENIDS and ARNOS, plural abbreviations HOSPS and SSGTS, Thomas ARNE, a GAS TAP, and an EMOTER and a DRAGGER.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Kindergarten Crime Spree (Part 1)”
- 22A. [I arrived at the crime scene at 9 a.m. The kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Ladey, ___...] SPELLED IT OUT FOR ME.
- 35A. ["First," she said, "someone ___" ...] STOLE A KISS.
- 39A. ["Wait," I said, "I thought there was a ___"...] KIDNAPPING. Ha! To be interpreted kindergarten-style as “a kid taking a nap.”
- 46A. ["Yes, but we woke him up. Then a pinky ring went missing." "Real jewels?" I asked. "No," she said, "___"...] JUST PASTE. Paste is both the kindergarten adhesive some kids eat—though there was no paste in my son’s kindergarten class—and the glass-like stuff fake jewels are made of.
- 52A, 69A. [She said, "Then I saw the ___"...] HANDWRITING / ON THE WALL.
- 78A. ["Graffiti?" I asked. "No, just letters." "Ah," I said, "a ___"...] CAPITAL CASE. Capital letters, that is.
- 85A, 97A. [I thought, All right, fine, I can ___"...] PLAY THEIR/ LITTLE GAME. I got mucked up with an AARSHIP typo for AIRSHIP and had AYE for AGE, so LATTLEYAME wasn’t making a lick of sense.
- 99A. ["Then I found these," she said, and even I was shocked. There were ___ on the floor...]—CHALK MARKS.
- 114A. [Someone had ___! (CONTINUED NEXT WEEK)] WHACKED THE ERASERS.
If you enjoyed this theme, you’re in luck—you’ll have fun with next week’s puzzle. If it bugged you, maybe you can take next week off. But I liked it all right.
Gail Grabowski’s syndicated Sunday Los Angeles Times crossword, “Gross Words”
- 27A. [Tammany Hall expo?] is a GRAFT FAIR. Historical New York State political graft at Tammany Hall, plus a craft fair.
- 29A. [Result of a run?] in some pantyhose could be a STOCKING GAP (cap).
- 52A. [Glutton for fuzzy fruit?] is PEACH GOBBLER (cobbler). Peaches, yum. I had kiwi fruit on the mind and it took forever to remember peach fuzz.
- 79A. An ECONOMY GLASS (class) is a [Low-priced drink holder?].
- 105A. [Mr. Clean?] is a concise clue for a GRIME SOLVER (crime). I like that one.
- 109A. PHONE GALL (call) is [Telemarketing at dinnertime?]. Telemarketing calls that reach your cell phone while you’re driving are worse. They’re gonna kill someone one of these days, I tell you.
- 37D. [Award for the best flop?] might be a GOLD TURKEY (cold turkey). They should have those! Perfect theme entry.
- 42D. [Kid in a ditch?] is a TRENCH GOAT (trenchcoat).
This is a good example of a change-a-letter theme that’s well-executed. The rationale for the C-to-G change is a little loose, perhaps, but the title connects it to crosswords, and the C and G look rather similar, so I can envision some solvers thinking, in context, that the puzzle’s title is “Cross Words.”
Other items of note:
- 55A. TIN POTS are [Inferior cookware]. Does “tin pots” represent a cohesive unit of meaning, or is it merely adjective + noun? The adjective tinpot connotes shoddy leadership, as in a tinpot dictator, but you can’t pluralize an adjective.
- 16A. [Turf controller] is a street GANG and has nothing to do with the care of grassy lawns.
- 44A. [Excuse that's often exaggerated] is a SOB STORY.
- 86D. [Sydney salutation] takes us to a terrific entry, “G’DAY, MATE.”
- 89D. Another good entry: a LOVE GAME in tennis is a [Shutout for 82-Down], Steffi GRAF. Wait, did she ever lose a LOVE GAME or was she the one shutting out her opponent.
- 100A. [Carrier more likely to be tipped] sounds like it’s about airlines or waiters, but it’s a CANOE. Tough clue.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s Washington Post/CrosSynergy crossword, “Sunday Challenge”
- 24A. I can’t say I have ever encountered the word MALPRACTITIONER, or [Negligent lawyer, e.g.]. Who uses this word, rather than the wordier “lawyer accused of malpractice,” “doctor found guilty of malpractice,” etc.?
- 42A. QUARTER PAST FOUR is [Shortly after teatime, maybe]. Not sure how I feel about fairly arbitrary times of day as crossword entries. QUARTER TO NINE, clock reading during a commute? HALF PAST EIGHT, when 30 Rock is on in the Central time zone? TWELVE TWENTY, a little past midnight?
- 6D. POLICE RADAR TRAP is a [Problem for a leadfoot], or driver who speeds. I just call it a “radar trap” or “speed trap.” Qualifying the phrase by adding “police” is unnecessary, because who else would have a radar trap?
- 7D. ELECTRONIC PIANO is a [Synthesizer relative].
- 8D. To REMAIN UNCHANGED is to [Stay the same].
- 46A, 43D. The UNDUE/UNDO crossing. One’s a [Word processing command], the other means [Excessive].
- 1D. [Shangri-La] is a DREAMLAND.
- 3D. Ah, tricky initials. W.S. GILBERT is clued as ["The Mikado" lyricist].
- 31D. Better still, full name without initials: MARIO PUZO is Don [Corleone's creator].
- 42D. A [Mountebank] is a charlatan or QUACK.
- 50D. A wee little TOY is a [Cracker Jack bonus], and suddenly I have a taste for Cracker Jack.
Not the most thrilling themeless, and the clues, as always for a non-Klahn “Sunday Challenge,” are easier than I like. The grid is mostly packed with words that would be fair game in a Monday puzzle, so nothing’s obscure, nothing’s unfair. (And that is not easy to do.) But there’s also not quite as much zip as I want to see in a themeless. I know, I shouldn’t look for that in a Sunday CrosSynergy. I’ll have to wait for next Thursday’s Fireball puzzle by Peter Gordon to be brutalized by a tough themeless.
Henry Hook’s Boston Globe crossword, “Read All About It!”
Favorite clue, favorite answer:
- 16A. [Rapids transit?] clues a CANOE.
- 73D. BOB NEWHART! HHe’s the ["Button-Down Mind" comic].