September 16, 2005


Ever since I did a couple Rich Norris puzzles months ago in a Saturday NYT compilation, I've been hankering for more of the kind. Ask and ye shall receive—and then ye shall get your rump kicked. It's mostly ordinary words and phrases, but with clues that obstruct one's progress. Thank goodness for EGO SURFING (which is a term I think I first encountered about a week ago), MYCOLOGY, Aristophanes' FROGS, and the fertility/infertility combo of OVULATES and STERILE. I appreciated the clues for ORDER OUT ("Get to go...or make go"), HOUSESAT ("Watched things"), SHOD ("Booted, say"), and GRR ("Bite preceder"), even though the answers were slow to dawn on me. Great puzzle, Rich and Will! Please join forces again soon for more rump-kicking.

There's some good* fill in Karen M. Tracey's LAT puzzle, such as SOFT WATER, EX-GI, JETSONS, and GO FOR A RUN. The puzzle features interlocking 15s on all four sides.

Alan Olschwang's 8/12 Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle is available now. How fortuitous for the team names of the Ivy League to match up in symmetrically paired word lengths!

Hex's LA Weekly/Boston Globe puzzle features an interesting* theme of famous last words: given the words, guess the speaker. As you'd expect, the non-theme portion is packed with top-notch stuff like HOBNOBBED and "Fabulous guy?" for AESOP. There is an error in the litzing, though; the clue for 46D should say "with 38 Down," not "with 39 across." (Unless you like to slather aloe Johnson on your skin, that is.)

* Help! I need synonyms for words like "good" and "interesting" that express a favorable opinion without being excessive in the enthusiasm department.

Updated Saturday:

The Saturday CrosSynergy is also by Rich Norris, but just about no CS puzzle can hold a candle to a Saturday NYT.

The Newsday Saturday Stumper is by Merle Baker, not Stan Newman, so I figured it would be fairly breezy. But it killed me! None of the five 15's came to mind without filling in a lot of crossings first. I wasn't terribly excited about the fill (REHABILITATABLE is as stilted as REALIZABLE), but the clues were good and hard. As someone who grew up in the Shortzian era, though, I do feel the absence of the wordplay twists that are a hallmark of the NYT and NYS puzzles.

Stumper 9:03
LAW 8:15
NYT 7:20
LAT 5:07
CHE 3:56
CS 2:57