May 14, 2006

Questions for Monday

John R. Conrad's NYT puzzle is a rather ambitious construction for a Monday—four 15-letter entries spanning the grid. And the raciness trend continues. First SCUMBAG a few weeks ago; the latest Sunday puzzle mentioning "congress" (meaning 1b) in a clue, and now, blatant parading of female reproductive parts.

Two questions:

1) If you do the New York Times acrostic every other week, how long does it take you? Dean Olsher wants to know. Go leave a comment over there with your guesstimated solving time (and you might mention whether you do the acrostic in the Magazine or on printout, or if you solve online with that nifty labor-saving applet Mike Shenk created—I choose the online route).

2) Anyone have any idea what's the maximum size crossword that can be created with no black squares? I'm guessing that, with some effort, a stand-alone 15x3 stack could be created. And themeless puzzles frequently have corner sections that approximate 7x7 or 8x6 blocks, but they must connect to the rest of the grid. Could a stand-alone 8x8 be made? Or larger?

And one remark:

A while back, I said I needed a contest idea to unload a spare puzzle book or two. Craig Kasper came to the rescue with a contest puzzle that I found quite challenging. The contest is slated to launch early next week (meaning May 22 or 23). There will be multiple prizes, and the contest endgame will not involve speed-dialing. It will also not involve a hefty cash prize, but there could be an Amazon gift certificate in it for you—and the all-important bragging rights.

Better late than never:

Four minutes away from the launch of the Tuesday NYT, I've just done Randall Hartman's Monday Sun puzzle, "A-List Movies," featuring movie titles containing A as the only vowel. Eight theme entries on a Monday! Very nice. Smooth puzzle overall, plus it's got a shout-out to my distant cousin Prince WILLIAM (he's something like my 9th cousin, once removed.)

NYT 2:51
NYS 3:21
CS 3:51
LAT 2:51