May 12, 2006

A Saturday in November

The puzzle says May 13, but the weather in the Midwest puts me in mind of November. It's not terrible weather for November, but for May, it's absymal.

Anyway—Brendan Emmett Quigley's style is recognizable enough that it dispenses hints. The clue for 1 Across in his Saturday NYT is "He wrote 'I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy'" sounded vaguely Kafkaesque, and knowing BEQ's fondness for Scrabbly letters, it had to be FRANZ KAFKA. (Is that from one of his works of fiction? Google isn't telling me.) Here's what you see on LIME STREET, home of Lloyd's of London. I had to reread the clue just now to make sense of DOPE NANCE—oh, yeah, that's DO PENANCE ("Follow priestly orders?"). I liked "Makes the rounds?" as a clue for BARTENDS, and "gets through quickly, in a way" for SPEED READS. "Buckthorn variety" was a quick trigger for CASCARA after Robert Wolfe's puzzle had CASCARAS two weeks ago (the bark is used to make laxatives, remember?). I recall seeing BARETTA's Robert Blake in Tiger Beat magazine when I was a kid—see? It behooves the serious crossword solver to be familiar with Tiger Beat. (Tiger Beat was flip-flopped into BEAT TIGER in the Thursday NYT.)


Karen Tracey's got another themeless puzzle, this one in the LA Times. Some hard stuff ("where the D layer is" is the IONOSPHERE), some fun stuff ("they're loaded" for HEIRESSES), plenty of kickass fill (DISCO ERA, THATS A WRAP, COTE D'AZUR, TONSILLITIS).

Merle Baker's Newsday Saturday Stumper has an unusual grid—four interlocking 15s, and the center of the grid's peppered with stand-alone black squares (there are four spots along the edges with two adjoining blacks). Who constructed that puzzle about six months ago in which none of the black squares touched any other? Was it Patrick Berry, or Will Johnston?

Newsday 7-ish minutes
LAT 5:29
NYT 5:02
CS 3:52