The May 22 puzzle by Richard Silvestri (answers) asks us to come up with four omens, or rather O-MEN, and in fact there are 23 O's in the puzzle. That seems like a lot, but according to Barry Haldiman, it's 11 shy of the record. I realize I resort to random stats like that when I'm not inspired to gush about the theme but really it's fine and the puzzle is very solid, as you'd expect from such an experienced constructor. I didn't know TOM POSTON, or ROB MORROW either for that matter, so maybe that's why I'm not more enthusiastic.
I was happy to see HARPO, and with a great clue: "silent film star." He'd have appreciated that. Also right up my alley was "Catfish Row denizen." Porgy and Bess has an interesting history. When George Gershwin wrote it in 1935, he intended it to be a serious and important opera. Jazz musicians jumped on the melodies (Summertime, It Ain't Neccessarily So, etc.) and Broadway theatres mounted various stripped down versions over the years but it was ignored in the opera houses until 1976 when Houston mounted it to great success. It's been part of the world-wide standard operatic repertoire ever since.
"Fire proof" is a great clue for ASH. I don't think I ever want to be reminded of the STARR report again, but that does give me an excuse to link to my most popular blog post ever.
I'm starting a new feature here at The JimH Crossword Blog. As I play with my stats site, I often get reminded of some of my favorite NYT puzzles of the past and from time to time I'll be linking to them. Not directly to my site, however, but to the NYT Across Lite file so you can enjoy solving the puzzle. Yes, that means you need to be a Times subscriber. Go ahead, it's worth it.
I'm starting with one of the "Five Unforgettable Puzzles" from the Word Play DVD. Cathy Millhauser is known for her sense of humor and almost exactly four years ago she wrote a most memorable crossword on the then newly popular phrase, wardrobe malfunction. Relive the past and try it yourself.