September 15, 2005


This can't be right. The NYT took me less time than the LAT? Apparently I was channeling Craig Kasper and Will Shortz's brain waves tonight. It was promising from the start because Craig opted for my favorite style of grid—triple-stacked 9- to 11-letter entries (10 letters, in this instance). He managed to pack plenty of interesting longer entries into the grid: DIANTHUS, PRETTY PENNY, MENTAL NOTE, SPRING ROLL, THAT DOES IT, WILDEBEEST, and LADIES FIRST were all great to see. The puzzle was further enhanced by tricky and non-obvious clues for the short words. "Supporter of a proposal" = KNEE (appearing near PADS in the grid), "colon composition" = DOTS, "seat cover?" = PANTS, "take for a ride" = DUPE, "be hesitant" = HALT. Congrats on a wonderful puzzle, Craig!

The theme in David Kahn's "Bee Sharp" didn't dawn on me until I filled in EUONYM, which was probably the first of the winning spelling bee words in this puzzle to achieve wider renown thanks to ESPN2. In addition to the 10 hard-to-spell words in the theme (okay, so the early years of the Bee didn't pose much challenge), Kahn treated us to THINGUMMY, FOCSLE, "Muddy waters fan" for HIPPO, and the pair of SAM and I AM, clued once with Dr. Seuss in mind and once with the Sean Penn movie. It's also fun, in a spelling-oriented puzzle, to clue "CSI" actress MARG Helgenberger with her costar, the also oddly spelled Jorja Fox.


Another puzzle from Frank Longo today, "Inside Capitalism" in the WSJ. Great theme involving state capitals hidden within the theme entries (e.g., ISOTOPE KAPUT clued with deuterium and Kansas, hiding TOPEKA). Great fill, great clues. What's not to like? (Amazon will send me Frank's new book as soon as it's published. I'm so looking forward to it, I'm actually paying shipping costs for a change—and I'm the queen of super-saver shipping.)

Merl Reagle's "Faux Flowers" was fun. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go to a nursery and ask the staff where you can find the HOMUNCULUS (long a favorite word of mine), CONCUBINES, and MORNING BREATH. C'mon, I dare you.

Reagle 10:08
WSJ 7:54
NYS 6:47
LAT 4:57 (typo—grr!)
NYT 4:38
CS 4:15