April 06, 2006


I really liked Adam Cohen’s NYT puzzle. (Hey, that’s the same Adam Cohen who won the B division title at Stamford, isn’t it? You know, some of the very best people win the B finals…) Great puzzle! The DALAI LAMA and ERIN MORAN probably don’t spend much time in close proximity, but here they are, joined for eternity. And LEVAR Burton and Ed ASNER were in Roots together. SPINSTER and RED LETTER, good entries. And here’s OVALTINE, just evoked by numerous people disappointed that STARBUCK was the answer to the Starbucks contest (remember the decoder ring in A Christmas Story?). Not to mention SLEAZE, which Pen Girl said Will Shortz cited as a reason to reject a puzzle she once submitted to him. Yes, it’s scumbag and sleaze week! And I, for one, have no objection. Clues I especially liked: "Bug" for TAP (wonderfully vague yet dead-on specific), "United, for one" for SYNONYM, "Novel figure: Abbr." for ISBN, "They’re a big part of the life of Riley" for MIAMI HEAT, "Red, maybe"for RIPE. Thanks and congrats on a fine crossword, Adam and Will. (P.S. For those of you who, like me, thought crossword regular EZIO PINZA was an opera singer, read the Wikipedia article on him. Opera + Broadway.)

Another baseball-themed puzzle in the Friday Sun by John Farmer, who seems to be making only splashy puzzles, no boring ones. "The 600 Club" includes four notable ballplayers (I presume RUTH, AARON, BONDS, and MAYS all hit 600+ home runs) around HOME RUN, plus SWING AND A DRIVE, GOING, GOING, GONE! as the batter rounds the bases through the grid. John, did this puzzle spring fully formed from your head, or did you and Peter work it out together? Either way, great results!


I just did some catching up with the Chronicle of Higher Education puzzles, and recommend all three. The March 24 one by Patrick Blindauer calls on your classical knowledge. Doug Peterson's March 17 puzzle spotlights former geographical names in the theme and has some top-notch fill, to boot. Ray Hamel's March 10 puzzle features poets who've written about roses.

Merl Reagle's weekend puzzle, "Connections," is punctuated with a zillion theme entries. Well, maybe not a zillion, but I counted 26 of 'em, ranging from 4 to 20 letters apiece. Fun puzzle! (But to be nitpicky, perhaps 22 Across should have been changed or eliminated for maximum elegance...)

If you enjoyed Harvey Estes' recent "Before and After" puzzle, you might also like Ed Stein's Newsday puzzle, "Mixed Media." It's got a vaguely related sort of twist to the theme entries.

Vic Fleming's LA Times puzzle adds an L to generate the theme entries, which led me to ask, "What the heck's a beer pump?" Turns out it's the thing you attach to a keg, the tap. Who knew it had a name? BULLFLINCH would have worked about as well as BULLFLIGHT for the toreador clue. I tried to come up with a funny clue for BE GENTLE; Google was remarkably unhelpful in this, but it did lead me to this article about a male gorilla who's the 23-Year-Old Virgin. How can a girl gorilla woo him? "She should focus on flirtatious behaviors. Throwing dirt doesn't work." Words to live by...

NYS 6:38
NYT 6:14
3/24 CHE 4:52
LAT 4:37
3/17 CHE 4:19
3/10 CHE 4:14
CS 2:58
Newsday [untimed]

Reagle 9:52
WSJ 7:07