August 23, 2006


NYS 5:54
NYT 4:32
CS 3:43
LAT 3:26

Patrick Berry's Themeless Thursday in the Sun is an excellent puzzle, though certainly not wickedly hard, and Gary Steinmehl's NYT puzzle also has much to commend it. In particular, the NYT puzzle's got plenty of Thursday-level clues to keep the basic SPLIT PEAS theme (with theme entries of the PE....AS variety) from being too easy. I was just thinking the other day that PHISH needed to show up in a puzzle, clued in reference to online scams rather than the jam band, and here 'tis. The fill also includes SHEMP (read that link if you don't know why the Stooge is called Shemp), the obscure BOYAR (which came a little more easily after seeing the word in one of Patrick Berry's Starbucks contest puzzles a few months back), MUSS UP, and my favorite crosswordese morsel, ORTS. The "Chef Auguste Escoffier creations" clue stymied me for a bit; he's the dude who invented peach melba, which Google suggests is seldom pluralized despite this puzzle's PEACH MELBAS.

The Berry themeless bundles together some great phrases: MADE A PASS AT, HUNKERS DOWN, STAVE OFF, MEN'S ROOM, SHIVER ME TIMBERS, and OVER THERE. Jangler has been critical of phrases that end with a preposition, but those first three verbs are probably heard far more with the prepositions than without them, so they're solid entries. There's almost a mini-theme in here, with the verb FUDGES and Count CHOCULA (Boo Berry was the monster cereal of choice in our household).