March 18, 2006

Sunday star

I haven't yet seen the other puzzles I typically do on Sunday (the LA Times, Newsday, LA Weekly, Washington Post, and CrosSynergy), but I think it's safe to say that Michael Shteyman blows them all out of the water with his NYT puzzle, "Always Felt This Way." Luckily, I figured out the rebus in the NW corner, the corner POCKET, and interpreted the 19x23 grid as a POOL TABLE, so the rebus aspect didn't throw me for a loop. Note that in addition to the thematic entries crossing in the center, the long vertical entries and 9-letter horizontals contain pool terms (ENGLISH, BREAK, BANK, and RACK).

Nonthematic stuff I like in Michael's puzzle: SPERM BANK ("it has frozen assets" but isn't a SNOWBANK)—crossing SCAG, slang for heroin, no less. "Smart set?" is 5 letters, starting with M, but it's MINDS, not MENSA. ALTOIDS trivia ("popular candy since the 1780's"). Also POINT B, UNCLE TOM, SNAP OPEN, and NEPALI King Gyanendra. If you're like me, you figured the reasonably little-known songwriter NEVIN was Mr. Ethelbert's first name. Turns out that it's Ethelbert Nevin. Congratulations, Michael and Will, and thanks for a fantastic and twisty Sunday puzzle.


This weekend's LA Weekly puzzle by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon is the one that ran in the Boston Globe a few weeks ago—and inspired Dave Sullivan and Lee Glickstein to brainstorm alternate clues for BOSTON POOPS. Eventually Lee came up with "#2 for the Bruins?" and nobody could top that. If you want to see what else Dave and Lee thought of, check the comments on the February 25 and 26 posts.

Responding to Pat Merrell's comment—It does seem unfortunate, though, to talk of puzzles as being in competition with one another.—I recognize that it's a subjective pursuit. Many's the time that someone expressed their delight with a puzzle that I didn't particularly enjoy (and when they point out a nifty coup that I'd failed to notice, I'm grateful). Other times, I've read complaints (anything from unfair cluing or too much pop culture to thematic inconsistency or unoriginality) about a puzzle that I loved. In the case of this weekend, I enjoyed Michael's NYT puzzle so much that I knew the other puzzles were unlikely to bring me as much joy. And they didn't. They were all good, solid crosswords, no doubt about it—I have no complaints about any of them. But they didn't happen to resonate strongly with my Crossword Appreciation Gland. This one did—probably my favorite Sunday NYT in weeks.

NYT 10:11
LAT 8:56
LA Weekly 8:42
WaPo 6:46
Newsday 6:44 (on paper)
CS 3:16