August 18, 2006


NYT 6:36
LAT 5:36
Newsday 4:26
CS 3:09

Okay, I'm pretty sure I know what search queries will bring hundreds of frustrated solvers to this page in about six weeks: the clues in that one corner of Bob Peoples' Saturday NYT puzzle. Namely, "Site of a 1776 battle that gave New York City to the British" (KIPS BAY) crossing "Big belt" (the awkward K.O. PUNCH). If you're like me, you tried a lot of other letters in the Random Alphabet Game before you hit on the K—was that your very last square to be filled in? (Stay away from the B.O. PUNCH—I hear it's terrible.) This was rather racy, as crosswords go: you can envision a tableau in which a SEXPERT ("Authority on birds and bees?") advises her clients to JUST RELAX, maybe TIE ONE ON or consider some sort of POWER PACK, and if all else fails, hire GIGOLOS. I'm gonna bet that this is the first time STOLLEN (which I do not believe to be racy) has appeared two days in a row in the NYT puzzle. Nor is Minnesota racy, but it accounted for two clues in the top left corner—IRON ORE from the Iron Range, locally pronounced "De Range," and the state's motto, l'Etoile du NORD (hence the hockey team, the Minnesota North Stars, which moved to Dallas and dropped the North). Also, if Minnesotans attend a POTLUCK, they're likely to bring hotdish.


Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Secret Society," includes famous secret agents in the theme entries. A few months back, there was a similar theme, and that time, too, I had no idea who SOLO is supposed to be. I recall that it's not Han Solo, but who's the spy by that name?

David Kahn's clues in the LA Times themeless crossword are great—deceptively simple. For example, "Suit material" for LIBEL, "Call, in a way" for REFEREE, and "Battery, for one" for CRIME. I've always preferred the more evocative "snot rag" to NOSE RAG, clued as "Hanky" (snot rag far outpolls nose rag at Google, but it's admittedly a little gross for crosswords). Did anyone else briefly wonder who COCA PTAIN was? No?

Plenty of interesting fill in Doug Peterson's Newsday Saturday Stumper, but the clues tended to be more straightforward than the Peoples and Kahn clues.