May 26, 2006


In the NYT forum, Will Shortz said, "Some nice puzzles are coming up next week, including a Patrick (guess which one), a Trip, and a Brendan." Okay, I'll guess Patrick Merrell, though I won't be disappointed if it turns out to be Berry, Blindauer, or Jordan. After Trip Payne's delicious Friday Sun, I'm looking forward to another of his puzzles. And I always enjoy Brendan Quigley's puzzles. Which day do we allocate to each of them? I'm guessing Trip = Friday, BEQ = Saturday, and Pat M. = Thursday or Sunday...but I could be completely wrong.

Sliding back to the present week, Will Nediger (who's one of those young whippersnapper constructors, I believe) provides the ZIPPY Saturday NYT. It's good and Scrabbly (four J's, three Z's—one of them descriptively joining ZETAS and ZED, three V's, two X's, and a K). I started out with ISABELLA ("sponsor of a historic expedition") and YEAST ("common catalyst"), and the answers flowed from there. Apparently, I know things I didn't know I knew, such as that PUNJAB means "five rivers," and that MIRO is the "ceramic muralist for the Unesco building in Paris" (the sun and moon walls)> I learned that a BEL ESPRIT is a "très witty person," and the JACKFISH, or northern pike, apparently is good with lemon butter. Clever clues abound: "Sticks in the supermarket," fortunately, is not oleo but CELERY. "Lightweight boxer?" is PUPPY. "Exchanged notes?" is MONEY. Another one of the Z words, LAMAZE, aptly intersects with MAMA. Well done, Will(s)!


Well, I just did the other three Saturday puzzles I usually do—the Newsday Saturday Stumper (Daniel Stark), the LA Times themeless (Robert Wolfe), and a themed CrosSynergy (Patrick Jordan). That passed 12 minutes. Periodically, people complain over at the forum that the latest puzzles were uncharacteristically hard, and they think they detect a steady trend in toughification. Alas, I see no such trend. (Crossword editors, give us harder weekend puzzles! Pretty please, with sugar on top.) At least there are puzzle books to fill the time. My two latest purchases are Puzzability's New Yorker Book of Cartoon Puzzles and Games and the New Yorker cryptics.

LAT 4:52
NYT 4:16
Newsday Sat. Stumper 3:55
CS 3:06