January 12, 2006


Eric Berlin’s got a Friday two-fer, with the NYT and “Cashing In” in the Sun. I give the edge in this head-to-head competition to Eric’s NYT puzzle: themelesses are my favorite, and this is a good one. Tons of great entries: MISTRALS (odd etymology, and I love the named winds: mistral, scirocco, chinook), LINEAR B, LIGHT SABER, FELL FOR IT, and the HORATIO/OSRIC combination. BAG LADY seems a little harsh for the gentle world of crosswords, though. And who’s this IDAS, “argonaut who slew Castor”? (Note to self: Remember that IDAS, ANSA, and ENSE all exist.)

Eric’s other puzzle is also good, and I couldn’t believe how long it took me to figure out that the MONEY FOR NOTHING gimmick was that any clue synonymous with “nothing” led to a random unit of currency. And shouldn’t “bubkes” have been the clue for SHEKEL? A little cultural/linguistic tie-in? I’m just saying.


Merl Reagle, looking forward to his big-screen debut in Wordplay next week, created an anagram puzzle called "Overheard at Sundance," with 10 13-letter theme entries. Good puzzle, too. Merl's puzzles show how 7-letter partial entries can be included in a puzzle without turning it into dreck; they're part of the Merl vibe. In less adroit hands, though, such entries would probably be a blight upon a grid.

Patrick Berry's Wall Street Journal offering, "Rhyming Dictionary," seemed relatively tough, but the Across Lite timer didn't start itself, and I didn't start it either. (Anyone know why some puzzles open with the green timer starting up, and some open with the red stopped timer?) Patrick B. can always be relied on to provide a smart challenge.

Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy puzzle offers "Triskaideka Trivia" on this Friday the 13th.

NYS somewhere in the 7ish to 8ish range
NYT 6:01
LAT 4:02
CS 3:28

WSJ ?:??
Reagle 8:44