November 11, 2005

Saturday in the park, I think it was the Fourth of July

Nicely done, Karen Tracey! The Saturday NYT is packed with the hard stuff. Right off the bat I fell into the ITARTASS trap instead of IZVESTIA, and then I opted for Fer SHUR instead of Fer SHER (and Google tells me how wrong I was—800 hits vs. 10,000). "Big name in oil," ends with CO? Must be CONOCO. Or SUNOCO. Right? No. Guess again, and forget about the petroleum industry. One doesn't see PROPINQUITY or READY TO ROCK pop up in too many crosswords, either. Thank goodness for gimmes's see, which entries were obvious? A LA MODE and some of the words hanging off of it...and that's about it. (It's always fun when the constructor solves her or his own puzzle on the applet and needs more time than I do!)

Kumar Bulani's Washington Post puzzle, "At the U.N. Cafeteria," was a lot of fun. The theme entries hinge on breakfast-related puns using names of countries. I'm always a sucker for geographical puns—don't ask me why. If you like that sort of thing, have at it.

With Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's LA Weekly puzzle, "Creatures' Features," I had one of my fastest 21x21 solving times ever. Once you've got a few letters filled in for one of the theme entries, it's pretty obvious, and there were 10 theme answers, so badabing, done.

The Saturday "Stumper" by Daniel Stark was frightfully easy. The words in the fill were mostly quite ordinary (SHOE TREE is about as exotic as it gets), and the clues were correspondingly straightforward. Now, I like themeless puzzles to combine sexy fill—unusual words and phrases, Scrabbly letters, daring letter combos—with infernal clues. I want them to put my brain through the paces.

NYT 8:06
Stumper 3:53
CS 3:34

WaPo 9:15
Hex 6:11