May 06, 2006


I haven't gotten to the non-NYT Saturday puzzles yet (I will). I've done the Sunday NYT, but won't be showing up in the applet (temporary insanity in which I thought the applet had frozen up and so switched to Across Lite—but the applet's just fine, as it turns out). Anyway, the puzzle's by Trip Payne, and the theme hinges on Trip's Favorite Letter of the Alphabet®, Q. (Those of you have seen Wordplay should have a chuckle at that.) There were a few completely unfamiliar entries for me: the printer's measure EM QUAD, the French town of BLOIS ("King Louis XII's birthplace"), and the EPA's pollution measure, AQI (the all-important air quality index). Kudos for Trip (and/or Will) for livening up LATEX—previous NYT clues for that word have involved paint or gloves, but this puzzle has "skintight material." Other favorite clues are "con junction" for PRISON, "it's used with some frequency" for HAM RADIO, and "Reading and the like" for RRS. The theme's a fun one—the first letter of a phrase is changed to a Q, often drastically changing the pronunciation (as in Q AND A BEAR, QED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, and QUICK CENTURY—originally panda, red, and Buick). Trip, what was your initial theme phrase? I'm pulling for QBERT AND ROEPER. Or maybe QURAN DURAN. Or QUIT YOURSELF. Hey, they're all good.


Will Johnston's themeless CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge has a lot of great entries, but the clues are mostly straightforward (i.e., fairly easy). One exception: "Lines at the grocery store?" for UPCS.

I like the themes in Patrick Jordan's Washington Post puzzle, "Banned Leaders," and Robert Wolfe' LA Times puzzle, "Urban Development" (hooray for geography-based crossword themes).

Henry Hook's LA Weekly puzzle, "After Taxes," takes out every last CENT. How is it that I never knew (or simply forgot) that E. E. Cummings' middle name was ESTLIN? I noticed a couple 7-letter partial entries (SKATE ON and OF TEXAS)—I know some people object, but I like the flexibility afforded by judicious departures from the so-called rules of construction.

NYT 10:54
LA Weekly 9:49
WaPo 8:14
LAT 8:42
CS 3:58