July 28, 2006


NYT 10:39 (ouch)
Newsday 7:05
LAT 4:58
CS 3:16

Okay, so I didn't find Sherry Blackard's puzzle to be that hard yesterday. Karma caught up with me in the form of Bob Klahn's first Saturday NYT since 2003. Mind you, I got off to a great start, figuring 1-Across ("Supporters of women's athletics") to be SPORTS BRAS, working through the crossings, and filling in the rest of that corner (even baseball announcer MEL ALLEN, who was utterly unfamiliar to me—"Going, going, gone" was one of his catchphrases). But then...I began to slow down. STEP ON IT ("Put the pedal to the metal") was eely; I tend to forget the Greek island of PAROS (factoid: the Winged Victory of Samothrace is made of Parian marble); "Landed" should have yielded REELED IN much faster than it did (oy! nearly mad); and I kept thinking "Fast starter" had to do with fasting, not starting a fire (TINDER). I never knew Will Rogers called himself the POET LARIAT. Those "number" clues for ETHER don't fool me any more, but "Number of people" for ANESTHESIA? I totally fell into that trap. Throw in a couple movies I don't know ("The FALLEN IDOL" and "The LAST MILE") and a pipe tobacco term (DOTTLE) I've never seen—plus one wrong letter that took me a minute to find—and the upshot is a Saturday NYT crossword of a fearsomely Saturdayish kind. (And that's a good thing, as Martha Stewart might say, so kudos to Messrs. Klahn and Shortz.)

Of course, Saturday is not just for mental struggle. It's also for socializing, occasionally of a blog-related nature. Crossword constructor Dave Sullivan (a.k.a. Evad) is visiting the Windy City, and we'll be meeting for a Cuban/Mexican dinner at Café 28, a great neighborhood place. So I'll be tardy (and possibly tipsy) when it comes to doing the Sunday puzzle.


The late octogenarian constructor Kendall Twigg (who died just recently) loaded his themeless LA Times puzzle with a lively batch of phrases, and I enjoyed it. I learned a new sports name: Spaniard Manuel ORANTES beat Jimmy Connors in the 1975 U.S. Open for his sole Grand Slam victory. I also got a kick out of the answer to a French fill-in-the-blank place name, Plateau d'ASSY (good place to ski, apparently)—a friend of mine uses "assy" as an apt descriptor of certain fromages.

Merle Baker's Newsday Saturday Stumper is very good, too—neither disappointingly easy or vexingly tough.