October 29, 2005


It looks like "Halloween Play" by Maxwell H.D. Johnson Jr. was actually Halloween work for a lot of solvers on Saturday night, but hopefully all agree that the holiday add-a-letter theme was worth the effort. My favorite theme entries were DUTCH COVEN, INTENSIVE SCARE, and GAME SHOW GHOST. Old crosswordese friends like ABELE and LETT were welcome when the puzzle also included trickier stuff like "Act high-handedly?" for SALUTE, "long green" for LETTUCE, BUSH HOG (apparently it's a "land-clearing device") and RED RAG ("provocation, metaphorically"—wha? In bullfighting, or...?).

About a year ago, I bought Frank Longo's Cranium-Crushing Crosswords. Sadly, the book only lasted me about two weeks, because I'm no fan of delayed cruciverbal gratification. Mete out one puzzle a day so the book lasts longer? No no no—can't be done. Unfortunately, that meant a long gap between volumes of cranium crushers. But today, Frank's new (and awkwardly titled) book, Mensa Crosswords for the Super Smart: 72 Cranium-Crushing Challenges, arrived. Amazingly enough, I haven't done any of the puzzles yet, even though the book has been in my possession for more than four hours. (I blame the dinner plans.) Every other page has a puzzle constructed outside the confines of crossword symmetry, so I'm expecting some exceptional fill; the asymmetrical grids may not be as pretty as standard grids, but all the tantalizing white space could give you snow blindness. So, if you'll excuse me, the book awaits...


In the last 15 hours, I got a full night of sleep, cooked breakfast, played with my kid, and polished off the first quarter of the new Longo book. See? No self-control. Good puzzles, though, with a smattering of killers.

NYT 10:49
LAT 9:04
CS 4:19