May 25, 2006


I was tempted to be disappointed when I saw that the Friday Sun puzzle wasn't a themeless Weekend Warrior, but rather a titled puzzle—Trip Payne's "Process of Elimination." It turns out to be a delightful puzzle with an almost-mean-but-actually-clever twist to it. It's practically a themeless crossword, but with ENGLISH ALPHABET clued as "it's entirely represented in this puzzle grid." I worked through the puzzle clockwise from the upper right, and finally ended up with a single blank square at the end of 1 Across—a letter that could be anything, but only one letter—by "Process of Elimination"—will make the puzzle a pangram, as required by that clue for ENGLISH ALPHABET. Fairly unusual fill includes PEGLEG, XANADU, OPERA HAT, SOAP SUDS, P'S AND Q'S, FIVE AM, and YELLOWCAKE. Wonderful clues, too—"it might hold a dozen rosés" is CELLAR, "Civics' courses" is LANES, "Went back on one's word?" for ERASED, "Giveaway description?" for DEAD. Merci beaucoup, Messrs. Payne and Gordon!

Mike Torch's NYT also has a 15-letter entry spanning the grid, this time GODEL ESCHER BACH. Good stuff here, too: POP TOPS, SURE BET, "Artists' stands?" for TREESCAPES, "One out?" for SLEEPER, OUT OF STEP, "Place for a pickup line?" for CAB STAND. There's even a touch of crosswordese, my favorite crosswordese word, ORT—I used it in a high-school paper about medieval dining customs, and my teacher jotted a question mark by it, as if he could not decipher what I meant (apparently he wasn't into crosswords).

(It's very hard to finish one's crossword blogging when one is also watching a couple hours of "Lost" on TiVo.)


The notepad in the Across Lite version of Merl Reagle's puzzle says, "This puzzle contains a typically offbeat quip from comedian Steven Wright (one you may have even heard), but since it took up so little space I decided to "open up" the rest of the grid and make the puzzle a bit of a challenger. So if you find yourself laughing and crying at the same time, that's why." It didn't strike me as particularly challenging (the most obscure words had easy crossers), but I liked it anyway. Lots of good fill.

Donna Levin's LA Times crossword was quite enjoyable. • In Manny Nosowsky's Wall Street Journal puzzle, the theme entries all contain OIL. It was somewhat surprising to see ETOILE in a non-theme spot—but when one works with OIL, it's hard not to get a spatter or two. • Todd McClary's May 26 Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle featured the names of sports trophies I'd never heard of; fortunately, there were no killer crossings to impede my progress. • Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy wasn't as arrid as the theme would indicate.

NYT 6:17
NYS 5:41
5/26 CHE 4:42
LAT 4:21
CS 3:37

WSJ 8:50
Reagle 7:30