September 29, 2005


Nancy Kavanaugh's NYT has got a lot of tricky stuff. "Head-turner" for PSST, "small gull" for MEW (huh?), C'EST BIEN (my French eluded me for a bit), "lack of starch" for INFORMALITY, and that damn WHEREAS that eluded me for a minute and a half (Repeat after Ellen: Read the across and down clues! There is nobody named EDNT Best). I liked RUBRICS, MATILDA, JUNKET, and (just because it sounds funny) PISMO BEACH. I wasn't crazy about STREAM OF AIR, but I do appreciate pangrams.

Michael Shteyman and Kyle Mahowald's NYS puzzle went quickly, with the title, "Quadruple Doubles," pointing straight at the double-letter rebus. The constructors give a nod to academia with CRAMMER and TEST SCORE, get into drugs with STREET NAME, XTC, and PLAN B, and toss in a flower (PHLOX) to get a third X into the grid. Seeing XENA raises the question: Will the day come when "Xena: Warrior Princess" is too obscure to pass muster for mainstream crosswords, or is it as eternal as those ancient TV Westerns that were before my time? I vote for an eternal Xena.


In Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle, the theme is supplemented by an unusual number of uses of a single high-Scrabble-value letter in most of the NW corners of the puzzle's sections. Check it out for yourself. (And if there's an official term describing that sort of crossing location, please enlighten me.)

Moving on to weekend-sized puzzles, I enjoyed Harvey Estes' WSJ outing, "Interest Earned." My favorite theme entries (involving phrases swallowing INT) were MAN INTO WAR ("Hawk?") and TINTED KENNEDY ("Rose Rose?"). The best clue is "Slaughter with a bat" for ENOS; according to the Cruciverb database, Harvey's used that clue a couple other times, Hex used it once, and Mel Rosen used "Slaughter with a club."

NYT 6:29
NYS 5:04
LAT 4:41
CS 2:44

WSJ 10:40
Reagle 7:35