April 20, 2006

Friday at last!

Manny Nosowsky’s Friday NYT took me longer than most of Manny’s puzzles, and longer than most Friday puzzles. I fell into a few traps—like entering TOPS instead of LAPS, MALT SHOP instead of SODA SHOP. And I drew blanks on a bunch of great clues—like "Post office worker"? (EDITOR), "Refrain from piracy?" (YOHOHO, which happens to cross OHO), "some sneaks" (NIKES). Remarkably low obscurity factor for a late-week themeless, in that the most obscure entries were quite logically gettable (SAPWOOD; ETHANES starts with the common ETH- and ends with a common chemical ending) or words I’ve encountered often enough before (LAI, SULU, EILAT, lovely ETYMA). I wasn’t familiar with ROS Asquith, who’s published a cute book for babies as well as, apparently, drawing STD-related cartoons. And then there are those six long entries (HOW TIME FLIES, A PRETTY PENNY, etc.) sliding past one another like tectonic plates and crossing in the middle, and crossed by that square of 7-letter entries that tie all the corner sections to the center—just in case the fill and clues didn’t impress you enough, there’s always the feat of construction to marvel at. Well done, Dr. Nosowsky and Mr. Shortz.

Brendan Emmett Quigley’s "Eminent Domains" is aptly slated as a Friday puzzle. It took me a long while to figure out that this was a rebus puzzle—thankfully, LAM[EDU]CK was fairly obvious when I finally worked my way over to that corner. But throw in deliciously vague clues and a handful of obscurities (like baroque composer Arcangelo CORELLI), and you’ve got a meaty challenge. Did this one sock any of you with unusually slow solving times, or was that just me?


Merl Reagle's puzzle ("Mm-mm, Good") was a fun solve, as always. I'm generally not crazy about themes that include phrases with X number of instances of a letter (unless it's wickedly hard to pull off—was it Brendan Emmett Quigley in the Sun a year or two ago with that multiple-X puzzle?), but perhaps it was worthwhile if it meant Merl could work YUMMY IN MY TUMMY and PHI SLAMMA JAMMA.

Vic Fleming and Paula Gamache teamed up for this week's Wall Street Journal crossword, "Taking Sides," a rebus puzzle in which PRO and CON pepper their respective sides of the grid in roughly symmetrical spots. (At first I thought it was unfairly tilted to the PRO side, but then I realized that the budget prefix entered (and accepted by Across Lite) as ECO was actually E[CON]O, crossing author BA[CON].)

Lee Glickstein and Nancy Salomon's LA Times puzzle boasted some perky fill, such as BAZOOKAS, PFIZER, and POP ART. • I bet the germ of Thomas Schier's add-an-I CrosSynergy puzzle was GENUS GENIUS.

NYS 10:02
NYT 6:55
LAT 4:43
CS 4:02

WSJ 9:13
Reagle 7:58