February 21, 2006

Quarta-feira (that's Portuguese for Wednesday)

John R. Conrad's Sun puzzle, "As Easy as ABC," looks crazy, with the top row and left column filled with BAABAABAA, AAAA, BABA, AABBA, and BBC—but then you realize that every single entry starts with A, B, or C. I was nearly done with the puzzle before I even noticed the gimmick, which I'd say is an indicator that it's a solid puzzle aside from the constructor's trick.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well puzzle, "Buzzwords," was a rollicking good time (insofar as a crossword can rollick). A bees theme, some interesting clues ("Old republican?" for PLATO), PARTY ON from "Wayne's World," and OH YOKO (which was the subject of a Cruciverb-L discussion lately—fill that fits the O**O*O pattern).

I liked half of the theme in Nancy Salomon's NYT: DIARY QUEEN and FIAT ACCOMPLI, yes, but RIAL SPLITTER and TRIAL BIKES, not so much. But that's just my opinion. I also liked DRY WIT, QUAHOG, OLD BOY, and the clues "What ___?" (FOR) and "What ___...?" (THE). And putting SCOTCH and OPIUM in the same section is intoxicating. But a few of those crosswordesey words are popping up, like OONA, SERE, and the ever-popular EKES. "My hands are so sere, I should see if I can eke out some lotion."

Updated: By the way, if you couldn't get the Starbucks contest puzzle last Sunday, you can call 1-800-STARBUC (782-7282) and they'll mail you a copy. (Or I can e-mail you a bloated .pdf file.)

And also: Of course, if you call the Starbucks phone number, they may well tell you to check your local store and see if they have any puzzles left (if they ever had them in the first place), or to mail in your SASEs to receive the puzzles by mail. So helpful! (Not.)

The Starbucks site had a new link, a "click here for this week's helpful hint." I went to the link for the "weekly clue" and got to watch a video of Will Shortz pondering, looking upward, eating grapes, and eating popcorn while looking upward, with his voice-over telling you that fill-in-the-blank clues are an easy place to start working a crossword. So you're not missing any vital clues for the contest—but if you'd like to see Will look thoughtful while snacking, that's the place.

Tausig 4:05
NYT 3:50
NYS 3:45
LAT 3:32
CS 3:11
Newsday 2:55 (on paper)