September 29, 2006

Friday, September 29

NYS 5:50
NYT 5:22
9/15 CHE 4:22
LAT 4:11
CS 3:23

Reagle 7:49
WSJ 7:20

Two excellent themeless puzzles start the weekend off right—David Quarfoot's NYT crossword and a Sun Weekend Warrior by Jeffrey Harris.

Quarfoot did have one themeless puzzle that slaughtered me, but the others he's done have been reasonably kind to me. If this one feels a little familiar to you, it could be because this is the second time he's used ZYZZYVA—a [Destructive tropical American weevil]—in that spot (his June 18, 2004, NYT also included the bug). I admired the chunks of bundled consonants—CD-ROM DRIVE crossing JACKSON and OLD MAID, as well as MS-DOS crossing AMCS and WOMEN'S LIB. The grid also features Red Skelton's I DOOD IT, Mae West as a SEX GODDESS, and an Eisenhower quote using EGOMANIAC—even young constructors can play to older solvers. Here's the rose apple that's related to the CLOVE tree. A TAM-TAM can be either a tom-tom or a gong. The baseball player in 11-Across is Hall-of-Famer Johnny MIZE. The Québecois place name Rouyn-NORANDA was new to me; Noranda's a contraction or "North Canada" rather than a French name. My favorite clues were [Cut loose] for REVEL and [Alternative to war] for OLD MAID.

Where Quarfoot showcases ZYZZYVA, Jeffrey Harris drops in the also-Scrabbly EXXON VALDEZ. There's good interlock between the 11x3 sections crossed by 12-letter entries. The fill is interesting—SOURBALL hard candy, the short two-word phrase GO OFF (which took me a while to hit upon), FRAT ROW, and the unusual LARCENER—and has a few tricky spots where two plausible answers share some letters (MEDIAL, not MESIAL; YOKELS, not YAHOOS; FABRIC, not MATRIX). My favorite clues were [They have lots of dead people] for ESTATE SALES, relying on meaning #10 for "lots"; [Ringers ring them] for PEGS, in the game of horseshoes; the pairing of two [Solid, in a sense] words, IRONCLAD and CONCRETE; [Tribeca manufacturer] for SUBARU; and [Name in a 1984 breakup] for MA BELL, the phone company rather than, say, Elizabeth Taylor (who didn't remarry for nine years after her 1982 divorce from Sen. John Warner).


Ed Early’s LA Times puzzle jettisons the Y from base phrases to yield theme answers such as BOOB TRAP…which puts me in mind of mammography and spurs me to refer you to my donation page for the Walk for Hope on October 8; I’m raising money for breast cancer research, education, and treatment. (Sincere gratitude to those of you who have already donated.)

Merl Reagle’s Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle includes one of those giant clues that are difficult to view in Across Lite. 23-Across says [Calm, sit-down encounters that usually don’t involve, say, pythons and tarantulas—unless you’re talking to 120 Across (whose name, by the way, is an anagram of this answer)]. The 11 theme entries aren’t always obvious, but the puzzle is comparatively easy.

The Wall Street Journal crossword by Randolph Ross is also easier than usual, with an entertaining theme. Alan Olschwang’s Chronicle of Higher Education theme’s fun, too.

There’s a grammar faux pas in a clue in Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy puzzle. 37-Down is clued [Ulm article] but the answer is the conjunction UND. I wonder if the fill had originally been the French article UNE…

Sorry about the technical glitches with double-posting and null-posting. Perhaps Blogger has caught the cold that’s going around.