August 11, 2006

Saturday, O Saturday

Second Sunday vowelless puzzle 22:43
LAt 6:44
NYT 5:37
Newsday 4:53
CS 3:05

Reagle 10:17 (I wasn't very focused)
WSJ 8:17

Patrick Berry's NYT kept me guessing. I swear I didn't know "achluophobic" meant AFRAID OF THE DARK. And I don't remember the last time I saw the plural of beef, BEEVES. (A meaty puzzle, with OVEREAT clued as "Have a cow?" and RIDER clued as "Piece of pork?"). I was led astray by "Country club figure" and first put in TENNIS PRO rather than the correct (but less common term) COURSE PRO. I like the clues that lead solvers down the primrose path, such as "Pilots are found inside of them" for GAS RANGES (not cockpits), "Their work may involve banking" for AVIATORS (we knew airplane pilots had to figure in somewhere, right?), "Clicker" for CASTANET (not remote control), "Night light provider" for MOON (not neon), "It goes on a break" for CAST (not...whatever), "Steering ___" for OAR (not wheel).


I finished Arthur Schulman's Second Sunday puzzle in the NYT last night, but I was nodding off at the time. Frank Longo's vowelless puzzle in the Sun last October didn't take me nearly as long—I'm going to chalk that up to sleepiness. Thanks for publishing one of these vwllss pzzls, Wll Shrtz! I hope to see more of them in the NYT and the Sun.

Two other themeless puzzles had the same sort of vibe: Robert Wolfe's LA Times and Daniel Stark's Newsday Saturday Stumper were both good, solid crosswords, but the clues weren't quite as oblique as I like 'em. Favorite clue/entry combos: In the Wolfe puzzle, "Cheerios' cousins" for ADIEUX, and in Stark's, "Asteroids, e.g." for ARCADE GAME.

Paula Gamache's CrosSynergy puzzle reorients some phrases by using the modifier at the beginning of a two-word phrase as a verb. This one grew on me after I'd finished it.

Good Wall Street Journal crossword by Randolph Ross on Friday—"See You in Court" featured terms for people allied with the legal profession, all given clues with nonlegal definitions. I especially liked "Couples at the retirement community?" for SENIOR PARTNERS.

Merl Reagle's puzzle from the Philadelphia Inquirer, "O Punnish Me," included a couple complete "huhs—BXP ("Old notation for a certain chess capture") and OSHAY ("Western comic strip, Rick ___"). Both were wedged between theme entries, so perhaps Merl wasn't crazy about this fill, either. Favorite theme entry: SPOILED BRATS for "Wurst at their worst?"