February 17, 2006


Trip Payne’s NYT is one of the harder Friday puzzles we’ve had recently. (Here’s hoping that means Saturday’s puzzle will be ferocious.) Highlights of the puzzle: six 11-letter entries, including MYSTERY DATE (my sister and I played the game at our cousin’s—I think my mom was too feminist to buy it for us); three first/last name combos; and “person who’s authorized to shorten a sentence” for EDITOR. It’s surprising how long it took me to piece together “newspaper inits. since 1851” (NYT, duh). I would’ve enjoyed more question-mark clues, of course.

The most obscure entry in Karen Tracey’s Sun Weekend Warrior has got to be PEKANS, or “large brown martens also known as fishers or wejacks.” Curious? Of course you are. This fact sheet explains that a female pekan’s gestation lasts almost a year, and she’ll get pregnant again shortly after giving birth. (Ack!) Also, pekans are among the few animals that are able to eat porcupines. Moving right along: In the SW corner of the grid, the trio of SMACK DAB, TANDOORI, and JOE CAMEL is great, isn’t it? Karen also included a whopping eight entries ending with I (only one of which is a Roman numeral). Last and least, can you envision KARL MARX and Emiliano ZAPATA doing the MEXICAN HAT DANCE? (P.S. I hate the noun COED. When will the dictionary definitions be updated to include men at Vassar?)


Curtis Yee's Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, "Lettered Men," is tough if you have to rely on the crossings to get some of the theme names, as I did.

Dave Mackey's LA Times puzzle made me wonder who Bessie Coleman was (OHARE is clued "airport on Bessie Coleman Drive"). She was the first African-American woman pilot.

Van Vandiver's WSJ, "Inn-Cognito," offers up some products placements. (Those of you with kids, watch for the product placement in the animated movie, Curious George. Yes, they drew in a few logos! Kids, ask for Dole bananas by name...)

Merl Reagle picks the weirdest themes. "All About Eaves"? Somehow, he makes it work.

NYT 6:31
NYS 5:28
2/3 CHE 4:55
LAT 4:09
Newsday 3:55 (on paper)
CS 3:20

WSJ 9:29
Reagle 9:05

# of puzzles on paper from books: 26 on Thursday evening