September 14, 2005


Frank Longo's NYT was harder than the typical Thursday puzzle, but so much less fearsome than a themeless Longo. Hard fill, interesting fill, great clues. And the Stooges' NYUK is in there! I loved the puzzle, but I've got to run now. You may discuss amongst yourselves.

Okay, I'm back. I glommed onto the turning-UP gimmick with the first theme entry, which made two of the other three theme entries easy (my botanical knowledge had not included the JOHNNY JUMP-UP violet). The section that gave Ellen trouble also slowed me down—ANTAWN Jamison, the violet, and the tricky "Opt not to charge, perhaps" for PAY CASH (I was thinking of a D.A. letting someone off—d'oh). What makes this a classic Longo puzzle (despite the presence of a theme) are those 9-letter nuggets that help tie things together: OZONE HOLE, TAHITIANS, ANY LONGER, and SCULPTING. I'm not saying no other constructor has ever used those words in the fill, but given that none of the four appears in the Cruciverb database, it's safe to say that they've certainly never appeared in combination before. (After Frank's new book arrives in a few weeks, we'll have to start a pool on how long it will take me to devour all 72 puzzles. I can't wait!)

Joe DiPietro's Themeless Thursday in the NYS fell pretty quickly, but was delicious all the same. My decades of watching sitcoms pay off sometimes—in this case, with REGAL, MILA, GRADY, and MUDDER (thanks to the "Seinfeld" episode where Kramer went to the racetrack, having overheard tips like "His fadder was a mudder. His mudder was a mudder. This baby loves the slop!"). I counted about 25 multi-word entries, including BODY BAR, IS IT A GO, ONE OVER, FT BRAGG, and BASS ALE—is that a record? My favorite clues were "Iron man" for ROBOT, "Theorbo's cousin" for LUTE (I learned a new word), "Blew by" for RAN PAST, "Spread out on the counter, maybe" for the dreaded OLEO, and "Name of a famous well-connected man" for ENG. But what the heck does "Squash court telltale" for TIN refer to?


Today's CrosSynergy puzzle is Will Johnston's "It's All Latin to Me," featuring six Latin phrases. The fill includes assorted pairs that Will may not have joined mentally: OUT OF IT vs. IN THE LOOP, both DOPEY and CECIL Adams of "The Straight Dope," The Who's TOMMY as well as MAGNUM OPUS, ESPN and CSPAN, and both ADAPTED and RIPPED OFF. And then TYPO, "something wrong in a proof," signals Will's day job. (I just wish that CrosSynergy puzzles followed the same difficulty progression throughout the week so that Will could have used tougher clues.)

NYT 5:46
NYS 4:40
LAT 3:24
CS 3:16