December 09, 2005

This appears to be only the second NYT puzzle by Henry Hook in five years (the previous one was Saturday, 6/12/04). So treasure the experience, folks; it may not happen again any time soon. Henry knows how to make a quality puzzle, doesn't he? He does. To wit, the following great entries and clues:

"Didn't get nothing" SCORED
"Head of ___" STEAM (Who else went with STATE first?)
"Impregnable stronghold" GIBRALTAR
"Ball carrier, at times" ARNAZ
"Unimprovable situation" HEAVEN ON EARTH
"Its biggest attraction is on a list" PISA
"Water temperature gauge" TOE
"Horse's halter" WHOA (Who had REIN until it appeared elsewhere in the grid?)

That's some primo stuff, man.


You know what? This just might be the best weekend of puzzles in months. I just got caught up by doing seven crosswords, and the Hook puzzle isn't the only goodie out there.

Brendan Emmett Quigley's WSJ puzzle, "iPod Playlists," was standard BEQ—i.e., fantastic. Crazy fill like IXTACIHUATL and OOMPAHPAH; a few first/last name combos (hello again, IRENE CARA); "like Andy Rooney" as a clue for JOWLY. And the theme! My favorite theme entries were CARS POISON AIR SUPPLY and CARPENTERS HAMMER DOORS.

I also loved Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's LA Weekly/Boston Globe puzzle, "Playing Charades." The theme entries were plenty of fun to puzzle out (HAYDN SIKH! CZECH MARX!). Now, if I don't mention that SERF BORED crossed BORER, with both clues relating to the boring of holes, somebody else is sure to carp about it. Yes, I noticed it; no, it didn't bother me.

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle features things one can buy in bookstore other than books, and yes, it is a tad ridiculous how much unrelated merchandise bookstores sell. It's an entertaining puzzle, complete with a little punchline toward the end.

Patrick Berry's Washington Post Sunday puzzle is great, too. There were plenty of tough clues ("dovekie, for one" for AUK was new to me) and off-kilter clues ("took a shot" for DRANK, "letter, in a way" for STENCIL), but the crossing entries and the thematic movie titles paved the way to a quick solve.

Daniel Stark's Newsday Saturday Stumper had a great clue that kept me guessing for far too long: "back biter" for MOLAR.

Jesse Goldberg's LA Times themeless featured a crossing pair of entries in the center that had nice runs of consonants: HITCHHIKE and CUTTHROAT.

Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy quip puzzle had some good fill, such as CROP CIRCLE.

NYT 8:27
Stumper 6:51
LAT 4:24
CS 3:39

WSJ 8:50
Reagle 8:08
Hex LAW 7:40
WaPo 7:13