July 18, 2006


Thanks to those of you who commented on yesterday's post, discussed Kevan Choset's theme (the mathematically minded people say it's both an impressive theme—67 squares—and mathematically sound), and played around with possible substitute theme entries. I tried to post a note at the NYT forum letting folks know that "today's puzzle" discussion actually did exist, just over here; but the post wouldn't load. The poor benighted souls who like to talk about the crossword but don't hang out here—all they got was this, featuring a flame war about the offensiveness or lack thereof of the word Eskimo and, more entertainingly, chitchat about the use of glue as a personal lubricant.

Moving along to the menu for Wednesday:

NYS 4:42
Tausig 4:11
NYT 3:35
LAT 3:16
CS 3:02

Lynn Lempel's Sun puzzle. "Tie Game," is sprinkled with great clues. I wonder how many are her work and how many are Peter Gordon's—I do tend to find that some of the cleverest clues in puzzles by my favorite constructors were added by editors such as Will Shortz, Peter, and Mike Shenk. My favorite clues in this puzzle were "Locker room shower?" for ESPN and "Happy time?" for HOUR, and "Poles, e.g." for EUROPEANS. Okay, everyone here done with the puzzle by now? Good. Let's get all spoilery. The rebus leapt out at me early on, with 20-Across's "Côte d'Azur resort"; starting with ST, what else could that be but ST T[ROPE]Z? (As in the old sun-worshipping ad jingle, "Bain de Soleil for the St. Tropez tan"...you remember those commercials, right? A faux-French woman in a bikini, about five years off from converting her skin into Robert Redford–style facial leather? Chemical & Engineering News remembers, and explains how self-tanners work.) The rebus was rendered slightly more difficult to complete because the [ROPE]s weren't symmetrically placed, but the central TIGHT[ROPE]S was perfectly apt. Well done again, Lynn! (And Peter.)

Ben Tausig's Chicago Reader puzzle for the week is called "All Out," and the theme entries lose an ALL along the way—to best effect in "Rhine ranch hand?"—DAS COWBOY. I liked the phrasal entries, like I SWEAR, ON LOAN, and AT WORST, and the newfangled vibe of GMAIL, Avril Lavigne's "Sk8er BOI," and MOVEON clued as "Left-leaning PAC." Ben is clearly playing to the diehard crossword crowd, because he's included IEOH ("The I in I.M. Pei," of course). And for "Spanish skating figure," I feared it would be some Olympian I had forgotten, but it turned out to be OCHO.

Alison Donald's quip puzzle in the NYT struck me as less onerous than most quip puzzles—possibly because of more interesting clues for the fill? Having read the NYT forum's heated Eskimo discussion today, I couldn't help but laugh when I came across "Many Eskimos" as the clue for ALASKANS. (Will there be an international incident as a result?) Controversy aside, there's "fun house fixture" for MIRROR, "Go from pillar to post" for ROAM (I don't even know what that clue means—common idiom?), "Think about it" for IDEA, "Barefoot activity" for KARATE...I dunno, this puzzle just didn't bore me like many quip puzzles do. The fill also includes LLAMAS—a friend of mine whimsically decided that, alongside his other enthusiasms, Will Shortz is also a noted llama rancher. (Rumor has it there is no truth to that.)


Curtis Yee's LA Times puzzle has a cute theme—it spans classical times, the Renaissance, and the age of plastic schlock—and plenty of great fill, too. Well done, Curtis.