September 01, 2005


Okay, I usually don't see what all the fuss is when there's a puzzle by Sherry Blackard. "Why all this talk of stilettos and whips? Her puzzles are not so fearsome," I thought. I'm singing a different tune tonight. I finished with a tough-Saturday time, but it's only a Friday puzzle! And it was so resistant to solving—pretty much every section of the grid posed a stiff challenge. My palms began to sweat; my shoulders tensed up. Eventually I beat the damn thing, but it was a bloody fight. And I thought I'd seen all the clues for my husband's name by now—"French royal called 'Le Bon,' and others" was new to me. That was just one of many examples of nearly intractable SOB clues. I've never been more grateful for wee gimmes like AYN and AKIM and ALAI. (I will let the SW combination of 45A and 52A pass without comment.)

Amazingly, Eric Berlin's NYS puzzle, "Going Too Far," took a lot longer than SOB's beast. A satisfying solving experience once you manage to wrestle the odd format and figure out the tricky clues. I'm glad not only that Eric knows how to create these puzzles, but that Peter Gordon has the sense to publish them (and presumably polish them, as is his wont). I'm also glad Eric mentioned the puzzle a couple days ago on his blog, reminding us to print the beast out and solve it on paper.

More to come Friday when I've done the day's other puzzles.


Brendan Emmett Quigley gives us a WSJ puzzle to sink our teeth into, with a combination of creative clues that make you work and some unusual fill (such as ODED ON and BORE ON). I don't have a good grasp on how BEQ's mind works, so I have to fight my way through his clues more than with most other constructors (the same is true of SOB). BEQ or SOB showing up in the byline for puzzle #5 at Stamford would probably knock a lot of people down.

Merl Reagle is up to his usual tricks, with a fun puzzle that yielded its theme quickly. My favorite theme entries were COME TO PAGO PAGO and BONGO VIVANTS. And "It was sure to go" as a clue for THE LAMB? Goofy, yes, but I liked it. This weekend's crossword conspiracy is the word ORGIES showing up in the same spot in Merl's puzzle and in the SOB NYT.

NYS 14:32
WSJ 11:32
NYT 9:25
PI 8:26
LAT 4:32
CS 3:02