February 07, 2006


Hey, look at that! Three great puzzles here. The first one I did was Gary Steinmehl's Sun puzzle, "SUV-enirs," full of phrases containing the names of gas-guzzling vehicles. (What, couldn't find a phrase that contained ESCALADE, "the act of scaling a fortified wall or rampart"? Fine, fine.) This puzzle also had good fill, like SANDSTORM and ANAGRAM, and LOMPOC federal prison makes its cruciverbal debut. For an added fillip, TILDE is clued as "Symbol in the crossing of 41-Across and 34-Down"—SEÑOR and NIÑA.

Next up, Patrick Merrell's in the NYT for the second week in a row. This time he livens up a quip puzzle by tying all the entries in the top and bottom rows to the central entry, which is, you know, completely unnecessary, but makes the puzzle so much more interesting than a plain ol' quip offering. "Red letters?" is the sprightliest clue I've ever seen for SSR—who's ever going to top that? And any puzzle that juxtaposes SEACOWS and EROTIC...what can I say? That's pure crossword gold.

Ben Tausig's Village Voice puzzle, "Key Phrases," features computer keys in the theme. The clues entertain, as usual—"Home haircut hazard" is BALD SPOT, "Berry native to Cleveland" is HALLE, and "They make wax wane" is QTIPS. I believe "Elvis follower?" is a brand-new clue for ARON, and THE OC (the TV series) appears to be a brand-new entry.


John Underwood's LA Times puzzle is cool, too. The theme entries are 8-letter words or phrases that rotate their halves: WOODWORK to WORKBOOK to BOOKMARK to MARKDOWN to DOWNEAST to EASTWOOD, which brings it back to the beginning. Is there a word for that sort of vaguely word-ladderish sequence?

In Paula Gamache's CrosSynergy puzzle, TOUPEE is clued as "comb-over alternative." Can we all agree that both are vastly inferior to a close-cropped cut and peaceful acceptance of hair loss? Paula introduces the term JAMCAM to crosswords, but I've never heard it used. Do your local traffic reporters say it?

NYS 5:23
Tausig 4:18
LAT 3:46
NYT 3:45
CS 3:19