August 26, 2006


WaPo 9:32
LAT 8:40
BG 8:00
NYT 7:39
CS 3:49

I was gratified to see that I wasn't the only person who found Henry Hook's Saturday puzzle to be a challenge, and chastened by the number of people who chimed in that they found the puzzle much easier than usual. And then gratified again, finding the Sunday puzzle (by Seth Abel) easier than expected. (Next round of comeuppance scheduled for Monday's puzzle.) Either the clues were pretty easy, or I just found myself on the same wavelength as the constructor. The theme didn't dawn on me until after I finished the puzzle, looked at the title ("Backwash"), mentally combined the theme entries with the word back, looked for words spelled backwards, and eventually cleaned out my synapses with all the bars of soap I found at the back of the theme entries—I don't think I've ever used LAVA or ZEST, but I've washed with the other six soap brands. (I can't believe the constructor didn't find a way to work Jergen's Mild in there.) I'm not wild about fill like NOT DO or SMALL AD, but on balance, with SNAKEPIT, UPGRADES, LEXICON, and EPONYM in there, and approachable cluing, I give this crossword a thumbs up.


Liz Gorski fans won't want to miss today's Washington Post crossword, "Combo Companies. • Henry Hook's Boston Globe puzzle, "Rainstorm," is the current one that's available online, about six(ish) weeks after its original publication in the Globe. Those theme entries fought like cats and dogs... • James Sajdak's LA Times Syndicate puzzle, "Currency Exchange," substitutes foreign currency for words that sound similar. I like RUPEE TUESDAY the best. • Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge was easy. CrosSynergy members, if you're reading this: Come on, throw us a bone. Harder themelesses on Sunday, and more wordplay in the daily clues. When y'all publish puzzles in other outlets, they tend to have more tang.