August 04, 2006


Newsday 9:44
NYT 8:54
LAT 3:46
CS 3:46

Tough Saturday NYT puzzle from Trip Payne, no? The right side of the grid filled itself in without much of a fight, but I got bogged down on the left side (top and bottom...and the left side of the midsection, too). Damn Trip and his crazy Q fixation—"Q-Tip, for example" is a RAPPER (I knew RAPIER didn't make sense, but...). The clues on the left side stymied me for so long, but the answers seem so natural once they're filled in. AGAPE for "Hardly poker-faced"? Sure. GONE FLAT for "Fizzled out"? Not as patently obvious as "Lost fizz," but it makes sense. An actor's name (AL PACINO) tied to a show I didn't know he was in shouldn't be a tremendous stretch. IN PEN for "Hard to change" should be a gimme for any crossword solver! (And elsewhere, "Completely filled, say" = SOLVED.) The 3-letter words in the upper left section had elusive cluing, though, as did many of the 3's and 4's in this puzzle—don't you rely on having a few easy ones to serve as a nutcracker? The stack of longish phrases at the bottom had relatively vague clues—ALL THE RAGE is simply "Hot," MOVE ALONG is a straight-up "Don't stop," EVER SINCE is "From then on," and RED STATER is "Many a conservative." Enough rambling for now. Did the rest of you find the left side of Trip's puzzle much harder than the right?


If you felt that Trip's puzzle didn't work your brain hard enough, try Stan Newman's Newsday Saturday Stumper. The fill is nothing exotic, but the clues will work you over. "Pinch," 3 letters; "Edge," 8 letters; "Joining," 8 letters; "Send," 10 letters; "Support," 3 letters, next to "Didn't support," 5 letters; "___ road," 4 letters. Your first guess for many of these is likely to be wrong, because there are so many ways to answer short, vague, elliptical clues like these. Good workout for the synapses.

Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily's themeless LA Times puzzle is easy (filled with plenty of old cruciverbal chestnuts) but features five separated (unstacked) 15-letter entries going across, bonded by three 15s going down.