May 18, 2006

Berry Friday

It's a veritable Patrick Berry extravaganza! He had the Wall Street Journal and Sunday NYT venues last weekend, and constructed both the Friday NYT and Sun crosswords. How 'bout that Sun puzzle? "This & That" was a doozy. Six pairs of rebused opposites (YES/NO, IN/OUT, TO/FRO, ONE/ALL, OFF/ON, HEM/HAW—except the last pair aren't opposites, hence the puzzle's broader title) kept me guessing, as did all the non-rebus portions of the puzzle. I printed out the finished puzzle and circled my favorite clues—and there were at least a dozen. Some amused me (like the lyric for the Weird Al Yankovic song, EAT IT). Some stymied me ("single-named 1950s TV star" is DAGMAR—check out her third husband's name in that link; "tarlatan garment" is TUTU; "RCA executive known as 'The General'" is SARNOFF, "baroque suite finishers" is GIGUES, and the first name of "mathematician Mandelbrot" is BENOIT—he's the fractals guy). And some simultaneously amused and stymied ("well-placed thing" is PAIL, "Activity that involves seeing people?" is POKER, "crib sheet user" is TOT, "Half-man of science?" is MR SPOCK, and "thick smoke" is CIGAR). Figuring out which pair of opposites might appear in this puzzle, and where they'd show up within each entry—that took a while. Thanks for a wonderful and challenging crossword, Patrick and Peter.

Solving Patrick's themeless puzzle in the Times was a much more straightforward venture and seemed of about average difficulty for a Friday NYT. The highlights are HANKY-PANKY, POLLIWOG, and PILLBUGS (roly-polies!) A fairly low word count and black-squares count yield delicious wide-open spaces—always a good thing in capable hands. [Hey, I went to college with a SARAH (22 Across) BING (21 Across)...]

The May 19 Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle is from Jack McInturff, who piles on the philosopher puns in "Wise Guys." I'm glad the CHE crosswords are available to us via Will Johnston's Puzzle Pointers page—the brainy themes are the sort that seldom get published in the daily newspapers.


Harvey Estes constructed today's Wall Street Journal puzzle ("Big Deel"), and Merl Reagle goes Dada in his "Something in Common" puzzle. Neither puzzle is particularly hard, but they're both fun.

NYS 16:55
5/19 CHE 5:41
LAT 4:42
NYT 4:26
Newsday 3:36
CS 3:36

WSJ 7:42
Reagle 7:23