March 02, 2006

Freed (Frisian Friday)

Beautiful NYT puzzle from Tyler Hinman. Those of you who appreciate symmetry surely liked this grid. As for those of you who enjoy a wide-open grid, I...don't have any idea how this stacks up with the new mathematical descriptions that have been hashed out by the mathematicians over at the NYT forum. There are broad expanses of white space, and all the sections are linked to the middle by more than one square. So...whatever. I generally like anything that features stacked 9- to 11-letter entries, and Tyler wrangled four stacks of 9's. New-to-Cruciverb entries include the SE corner of three 9-letter entries (TEEN ANGST!), WITS END, GO FOR IT (which seems familiar—maybe it's appeared elsewhere recently?), and LITIGATED. Some good clues from the Hinman/Shortz camp: the vague "personal" for AD HOMINEM, "Whistle blower?" for TEAKETTLE, and "it goes over the wall" for HOMER. Looking over the completed puzzle, I see an odd clue for HAHA: "ditch with a retaining wall used to divide land." Yes, for real; here's the Wikipedia entry for ha-ha. Now, raise your hand if you started out answering "rankles" with PESTERS rather than FESTERS. And am I the only one who's been wavering between MARSALA and MADEIRA for years, only now beginning to realize that the Sicilian wine clues seem to be for MARSALA?

Gary Steinmehl closes out the Sun's Oscar week with "And the Oscar Goes to..." This puzzle, with left-right symmetry, features five Best Picture winners at the beginning of 17, 22, 39, 48, and 59 Across. It's a tad unexpected to have the CHICAGO WHITE SOX as a theme entry in a movie crossword, but I'll take the backwards hometown mention. (Too bad the length didn't work out for MARTY FELDMAN to make an appearance.) For those of you who are curious but too lazy to do the legwork, Chicago won in 2002, Rocky in 1976, Wings in 1927–28, Platoon in 1986, and Rebecca in 1940. Is it bad that I've seen only one of those movies? And who knows which one it was?


Of the puzzles I did this morning, my favorites were Randolph Ross’s “Complaint Department” in the Wall Street Journal (eaasy but entertaining) and Jack McInturff’s doom-and-gloom “Love Stories” from the 2/17 Chronicle of Higher Education. Merl Reagle’s always fun, too; this week’s puzzle is called “Testing Your Blurbal Skills.”

The May 2006 issue of Games World of Puzzles came in the mail this week. There are four varieties of Frank Longo puzzles, as usual; the Jumbo Crossword features two vertical 27’s near the edges, with four pairs of 13-letter entries stacked to the side. There’s also an uncommon themeless 21x21, by Harvey Estes.

NYT 4:34
NYS 4:32
LAT 4:22
Newsday 3:52 (on paper)
2/17 CHE 3:42
CS 3:11

Reagle 7:36
WSJ 7:05