December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

Will Shortz kicks off 2006 with an excellent puzzle by Joe DiPietro, featuring a theme that must have been fun to work on. Skimming the dictionary for REP* words in which the * is a word in its own right, and then cooking up entries like REPAIRING DIRTY LAUNDRY and REPROACH MOTEL? C'mon, that sounds like fun! The rest of the grid has treats like AFTERPARTY, SOUNDS GOOD, PED XING, and IM MOVED, and then there are some entertaining clues like "Moving experience?" for EXODUS. Great puzzle! You know it's a fantastic puzzle when someone can get screwed over by the applet and still love the puzzle—the screen froze up on me with 8:20 on the clock when I had a mere 33 squares left to go in the SW corner. Between sitting there agape and checking my e-mail before retyping the whole puzzle, I managed to use up plenty of extra time on the clock.


Nancy Salomon's LA Times fun puzzle works in the countdown to the ball dropping at midnight, with 10 numerical phrases like SEVEN DWARFS.

Harvey Estes has two puzzles today. The CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge has three triple-stacked 15's. I did slow myself down a smidgen by filling in ARMED TO THE GILLS instead of TEETH, because apparently some part of my brain believes that fish are heavily armed. Of course, piranhas and sharks are fierce, but their armaments have more to do with teeth than gills. Anyway...Harvey's other puzzle is "Not All There" in the Washington Post. One thing I learned from it is that "parabolic" can pertain to parables as well as to parabolas; who knew? Either this is the most difficult Sunday-sized puzzle today, or too much Moscato d'Asti is incompatible with deciphering Harvey's cluing style.

Henry Hook's LA Weekly puzzle, "Repeat Performance," was eased up a bit by the word duplication within theme entries. Most of the theme entries were lo-o-ong, too—I'm guessing that having two 21's rendered the construction process much more difficult. My favorite clue was the one that kept me guessing the longest: "Silent partner?" for HARPO. And I learned a few new words, VROUW ("Hollander's Mrs."), ESBAT ("Meeting of witches"), and EOLUS ("Colorado mountain"). If you're tackling this one one on screen with Across Lite, note two errors in the answer key for 28A—it's Mrs. Gorbachev who was named Raisa, not Mrs. Yeltsin.

NYT 18:30 on the applet, but I swear it had to be under 10:00
WaPo 10:51
Hook 8:07
LAT 6:44
CS 3:48