February 06, 2006


In Alan Olschwang's Sun puzzle, "Cherchez la Femme," first you solve the crossword, and then you get a little word search action finding the women's names (LINDA, ERICA, DIANA, MARSHA) embedded within the theme entries. I'm not sure if the two longest down entries are part of the theme—ELLA is fair game, but INA as part of 3-Down is iffy. I prefer the theme with just the four acrosses. There's plenty of good fill, too, such as GILLIGAN, RESORT TO, RSVP, and YAMMER.

Moving along to the NYT by Elizabeth Gorski, we've got a cute ME, MYSELF, ANDI theme, but between the QUOTE/TALKING commonality in the first two theme entries and the embedded KING shared by the second two, it took a while to parse it as such. The puzzle’s also got two good 10-letter (non-theme) entries, GETS WISE TO and WALNUT CAKE, along with ON BUTTON, SO WHAT, and JINGO.

However...I honestly didn’t mind the ANOA in Monday’s puzzle, but the ETUI is showing up far too often in the NYT puzzles—it's in this one. If you Google etui sewing, you get about 12,000 hits. Remember the “salami pizza” contretemps? Google ”salami pizza” and you get 14,000 hits. If you don’t sew, collect antique sewing boxes, or do crosswords, you’re unlikely to ever encounter the word etui. Maybe the crossword crowd doesn’t need to see the word so much, eh?

I took a few seconds to sketch out a 4x4 grid that could easily replace the ETUI corner in this puzzle. If you stack WOWS, ELAN, and LIRA on top of DONTQUOTEME, the down answers are WELD, OLIO, WARN, and SNATCH. Do you prefer those to WONG, ECOL, and ETUI crossing WEED, OCTO, NOUN, and GLITCH? Or do you have a great corner fill of your own?

And while I'm feeling ranty, let me say that I’m also tired of LATEX being clued as “paint ingredient.” Why, latex is so much more! You’ve got your condoms and your latex-clad fetishists, as well as run-of-the-mill latex gloves. And latex allergy is fairly well-known these days. Let's allow the natural rubber to breathe a little, shall we?

NYS 4:43 (on paper)
NYT 3:45
LAT 3:30
CS 2:50