August 17, 2005

Twofer Thursday

Crazy NYT by Paula Gamache. I was out when the puzzle was released, so I had a chance to see the thrashing that Paula gave many applet solvers before I started on her puzzle. Which I loved! Incredibly inventive. I quickly found myself in the middle and had the -NG- of GOINGIN, so it nudged me in the right direction(s) early on. Is this one of those construction feats that people will still be talking about months from now? My favorite entry was DOO GO NOT PU, with its cryptic scatological message.

The spot that held me up was 5A, POKE. According to whatever dictionary source it is that you get when you look up a word via Google, one of the meanings of POKE is a sack big enough to hold a pig (hence "pig in a poke") or, in parts of Scotland, a small paper bag or a paper holder for an ice-cream cone. Cluing POKE with "small bag" is a bit much on a Thursday—seems like more of a Saturday obscurity (unless the puzzle is appearing in certain parts of Scotland, that is). But from now on, I fully intend to call little paper bags "pokes."

The Themeless Thursday NYS by Robert H. Wolfe doesn't have many marquee high-Scrabble-count entries like Frank Longo's FUZZBUSTER or Byron Walden's FUZZYNAVELS (excuse me while I whisk all that lint off my keyboard), but it is jam-packed with long entries that don't show up in the database. While that's no guarantee that they haven't been used in a published crossword, it's pretty impressive to have 12 long entries that might be new. My faves were BLUE STATES (clued as "Bush-whacked regions?"), TAKE ORDERS, and the team of SPARE BED and SLUMBERERS. Not to mention SCHATZIS, "Sweethearts, in slang" (exactly whose slang, I'm not sure—the Austrians?).

NYT 6:41
NYS 6:30