May 20, 2006


Ashish Vengsarkar, who gave us the "Begone" puzzle a couple months ago, goes a different route with "Spellbound" in this Sunday's NYT. It seems inspired to base an entire Sunday-sized theme on literal clues: "start of quote" signals the first letter of the word "quote," which is Q, which sounds like queue, which is a BRITISH WAITING LINE. "Part 2 of quote" is U/you, SECOND PERSON SINGULAR; part 3, O, OPRAH WINFREY'S MAGAZINE; part 4, T/tea, DRINK WITH JAM AND BREAD; the end is E/e-, WORLD WIDE WEB PREFIX (as in eBay). I don't know whether the constructor noticed it, but I liked the family of Indian words—SARIS, RANEE, ASHRAM, BENGALI, SONIA Gandhi. (By my count, India beats Star Wars, 5–2.) I do want to dispute the clue for AFROS, "bushes rarely seen nowadays." Perhaps afros are less common today than they were 35 years ago, but I daresay they're much more popular now than 10 years ago. Case in point: Ben Wallace.


Henry Hook's LA Weekly puzzle, "Elementary," has a great theme. (And if the theme's been done before by others, I'll bet I would have enjoyed those puzzles, too.)

I don't quite get why Lynn Lempel's Washington Post puzzle is called "Box Office Losers," as some of the names are not associated with the movies. Maybe I'm missing something here. Explanation, anyone? But I like Lynn's (or Fred Piscop's?) cluing style—"Tree hugger?" is VINE, "it's driven" is SCREW, "D.C. station" is CSPAN, "Grease, of sorts" is PAYOLA. The clues are just oblique enough to make the puzzle a bit more challenging and a lot more enjoyable.

NYT 10:18
WaPo 10:03
LA Weekly 8:25
LAT 7:34
CS 4:16