March 09, 2006

Péntek (Friday on the shore of Lake Balaton)

First, a brief grumble. The NYT's "Play Against the Clock" applet is a wonderful thing...except when its gears get gunked up with goo and it takes an extra 45 seconds or so to register one's solving time. Raise your hand if the applet didn't make you look about 45 seconds slower tonight. For everyone else, we'll just assume your actual time was faster.

Kevin McCann, the proprietor of the indispensable site, reveals his constructing chops in the Friday NYT. He's got some entries that are not yet in his Cruciverb database, to wit: JOBLESS, LEG BONES, BROKERED, and HOW NOVEL. The latter of these is one of those New Wave entries custom-designed to irk some solvers and delight others (I'm in the delighted camp). No need to NITPICK into an EXTREME HOLYWAR; having so much IRE that your NECK is SEVERED would really be THEPITS. I wonder if Kevin noticed the leg subtext in this puzzle, with LEG BONES, THIGHS, and JAMB, which harks back to Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin for horse's hock or leg. Anyway, nice work, Kevin!

Alan Olschwang’s Weekend Warrior puzzle in the Sun contains seven horizontal 15’s crossed by an eighth vertical 15. My favorite entry was THATS INCREDIBLE, which takes me back to my salad days, when "That's Incredible" and "Real People" were what passed for reality TV. Ah, that was some truly memorable television! (It really was. I remember a frightening amount of detail from those shows.) Did you find this puzzle unusually hard, or was that headache I had when I solved it impairing my cognition?


Among the other six puzzles I did for today, my favorite was Janet Bender's 2/24 Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, a pangram with a geology theme. Myles Callum's WSJ anagram puzzle and Merl Reagle's "4-H Club" were both good. For each week's Reagle and WSJ puzzles, when I open the Across Lite file, the timer doesn't automatically start ticking away, and I forgot to start the timer for both of them today. I liked the subtlety of Merle Baker's theme in the Newsday puzzle, "Take a Good Look." Special mention for Will Johnston's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Star Cluster," for including Algol as a theme clue; that was the rather obscure title of my college yearbook. (Yes, it was a geeky school.) I've been enjoying Jack McInturff's puzzles lately, but his LA Times puzzle today featured a quip that didn't resonate at all.

NYS 9:18
NYT 5:28 when I told the applet I was done; 6:10 by the time the applet listened
2/24 CHE 4:27
LAT 4:03
Newsday 3:56 (on paper)
CS 3:29

WSJ oops, no timer
Reagle oops, no timer