March 07, 2006

Szerda (Wednesday, to Imre Nagy)

Out of the past seven or eight months' worth of themeless NYT and Sun crosswords, those by Sherry O. Blackard have challenged me the most, on average. But when the trusty SOB goes retro with a themed puzzle, it's a snap—a quicker solve for me than the Monday and Tuesday puzzles this week (though I don't know what the hell took me so long on those earlier puzzles). If not for the Y in STRAYS, I might have been tempted to put in DUCKTAIL rather than PONYTAIL. I knew POODLE SKIRT was lurking in there somewhere, too. Swell puzzle with plenty of keen entries, like the neato BILOXI. Then there were the inadvertent shout-outs to Oscar winners, like FOLSOM referencing Reese Witherspoon's Walk the Line and AW HO referencing Best Song winner "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." Oh, wait. That's "Horton Hears A WHO." My bad.

The Sun puzzle by Barry Lindsley, “City Blocks,” has rebus squares filled with five symmetrically placed city abbreviations. All of them are commonly used abbreviations, more common than, say, the CHI and DAL that show up on sports scoreboards. I don't really have much to say about the puzzle, except that it's well-made and I enjoyed it. P.S. Aha! I suspected there was more to say, and Lee Glickstein identified it: The puzzle approximates a U.S. map, with the rebuses placed in proper geographic order. Wow!

NYS 5:36
LAT 3:46
Newsday 3:20 (on paper)
CS 3:18
NYT 3:14