May 15, 2006


The theme amused me in David Liben-Nowell's Sun puzzle, "Timely Recognition." Took me a while to fully grasp what they meant, though. Kudos for four 15-letter entries (as in Monday's NYT), with the middle pair of 15s glued together by seven 5-letter crossers. I liked the double duty performed by the clues, "big do"—GALA and AFRO—and "fashion magazine"—ELLE and VOGUE. I had lunch today at IHOP, the "restaurant chain that started in Toluca Lake, Calif." (I believe that factoid appears on the back of the menu.) Speaking of food, VEGAN is clued "Butter-and-egg man's antithesis?" Meat-and-potatoes man, I've heard of. Who is this butter-and-egg man, and will he please get some flour and sugar and bake me a cake?

Nancy Salomon's NYT puzzle burned me (briefly) by letting me enter WHERE'S THE FIRE as the first theme entry, when that particular phrase belonged to the third theme entry, clued exactly the same: "Officer's query to a speeder." (Harrumph.) The PERIDOT—arguably the least attractive of all the birthstones—makes an appearance here. (Personally, I'm upgrading from my own birthstone to that of my child, who had the sense to be born in the month of diamonds.) It's kinda cute to cross OOF and OOH LA LA. I'd rather change an A to an O and have BOWLER crossing OTRAS instead of BAWLER with ATRAS, though.

I just left a comment the other day at the Mackeys' Puzzle Brothers blog, saying that the people who game the NYT applet system to pretend that they're fast don't really bother me. And they don't—much. You know what they're like, spamothemag and robrot and their ilk? Gnats. Sometimes they bite, but usually you just shoo them away and forget their existence. And sometimes you get one in your eye or your mouth, and much wiping or spitting ensues. Gnats aren't pleasant, but I try to keep them outside my screen and usually manage it. Has anyone got any bug spray?


Harvey Estes' CrosSynergy puzzle, "Victimless Crime," drops a three-letter sequence from each theme entry, turning "vicious cycle" into IOUS CYCLE. One of Harvey's shticks is to lower the overall word count a bit by including longer fill—in this puzzle, there are 10 non-theme entries that are 8 letters long, which means plenty of words and phrases not often seen in early-week crosswords.

Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily serve up an energetic theme in their LA Times puzzle.

Ben Tausig's Chicago Reader puzzle, "Getting Fresh," has a fruity theme—although the raisins of RAISIN HELL aren't fresh, they're dried; but then, there's a bonus MANGO outside the theme to balance that. I like the contrast between "Mayberry's Gomer and Goober" (PYLES) and "Howard and Jeremy" (RONS). "Bought glasses on credit" is a clever clue for RAN A TAB, isn't it?

Tausig 4:04
CS 3:51
NYS 3:41
NYT 3:29
LAT 2:50