November 30, 2005

I liked Randolph Ross's Thursday NYT theme, particularly COCO CHANNEL, and the plethora of 7-letter entries livening up the puzzle—PICASSO, SPOONED, MIMOSAS, INSULTS, SUITS ME. (Never heard of the TACONIC State Parkway, though. Sounds like an adjective roughly describing tostadas and burritos.) As for MENORCA, I'm more familiar with the spelling Minorca, but the Wikipedia entry explains that the island is spelled with an E in Catalan and Spanish. Other tidbits from the article: The Phoenicians called it Nura ("island of fire") to honor Baal. The local dialect includes the word xumaquer (shoemaker, borrowed from English during the British occupation a few hundred years ago). Last but not least, we can blame the Minorcan town of Mahon for lending its name to mayonnaise.


Vic Fleming and Bruce Venzke joined forces on the NYS Themeless Thursday. Vic, a judge who oversees many drunk-driving cases, often has a trademark sobriety entry in his puzzles; this time, he and Bruce went the other way with TIES ONE ON and MOONSHINE. There's a subtle minitheme at the bottom of the long entries, 5D and 10D. Two of the trickier clues both led to G answers: "Like 'Charlotte's Web'" was RATED G, and "Ride attire" was G SUIT. The alphabet party continued with A LINE and B FLAT, not to mention ABC SPORTS. I've never heard of actor TOL Avery, but I'll file his name away for his next cruciverbal appearance. Another great clue was "Family members?" for GENERA.

David Kahn's LA Times puzzle is fun if you're familiar (as I am) with the TV show, "Monk"; if you know nothing about the title character, this might not be the puzzle for you.

NYS 5:03
NYT 4:09
LAT 3:10
CS 2:51