July 19, 2006


NYS 4:34
NYT 4:04
CS 3:38
LAT 3:22

It's Thursday (more or less), and you know what that means: If we're lucky, there'll be some sort of gimmicky twist to the NYT puzzle to liven things up. This week, Kevin McCann takes a quick break from his tireless stewardship of cruciverb.com to put out, constructor-wise, with a meaty theme. Or not put out, but rather, put on the dog. With 73 theme squares and four "LOST DOGS" hidden within theme answers, one might say "nice job with the theme, Kevin." But a smattering of other clues also pertain to dogs: ALPO, OFF, SKYE, and HELP. Good clues, too, but I'm too tired to list them now so I'll leave that to the rest of you.

In Jack McInturff's deft Sun puzzle, "Opening Pair," the title and central explanatory theme clue led me to fear yet another poker crossword, but it turned out to be much more elegant than that. McInturff assembled four phrases whose first words could be preceded by IN OR OUT (as in inset and outset). He included some great fill, too—SYRIANA, MCDLTS, RAY KROC, and MIA SARA (who was cute as can be in the classic movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off).


Paula Gamache's LA Times puzzle has six theme entries reinforced by some good fill, like SIR NO SIR. • Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy puzzle was bound together by a theme of painful chicken-based puns.