September 09, 2006

Sunday, 9/10

NYT 9:46
WaPo 8:52
LAT 8:05
CS 4:28
BG tba (MIA)

Joe DiPietro is in fine form with his Sunday NYT, "Two Steps Late." I haven't checked out the other Sunday puzzles (other than Merl Reagle's, which I like to do on Fridays) yet, but I believe it's Hook week for the Boston Globe puzzle.

I bought, started, and finished a new crossword book this week—Byron Walden's Sit & Solve Commuter Hard Crosswords. (As a "commuter" book, it has a disposable coffee cup cover rather than the original Sit & Solve toilet design.) The book contains 42 10x10 puzzles, mostly themeless, but with some mini-themes snuck into the grids. The clues are Waldenesque, as you'd expect. A handful of these puzzles were quite knotty, but most of them took me between 2 and 3 minutes. So a speed-solver might get a solid two hours of entertainment out of this book—at $4.95, that's a much better value than a movie. Now that I've finished the book, though, I'm wishing I hadn't plowed through the puzzles in a couple binge sessions. Buy the book, but savor them like little chocolate truffles instead of gorging on them like a bag of M&Ms. (Congratulations on your first book o' crosswords, Byron!)

And now, the stuff with spoilers:

Loved the theme in DiPietro's puzzle—the first letter of each theme entry's seed gets moved two notches further along in the alphabet, so when a crossing gives you the first letter, you find yourself saying the alphabet backwards to figure out the base phrase so you can fill in the full entry. The twelve theme entries all involve a different first letter. The funniest one is HAIRY GODMOTHER, of course. One could make a case that the fill entry ST JOE is a tad narcissistic... Clues I admired include [Pens and needles] for STYLI, [Rap relative] for SISTA, and [They meet in the middle] for RADII. I couldn't picture "The Laughing Cavalier" by HALS, so I Google-image-searched; note that while the subject's eyes and prodigious mustache are laughing, his mouth is not; so why that title?


If sports is your thing, you'll enjoy Ray Hamel's LA Times puzzle (football) and Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's Washington Post crossword (baseball). Will Johnston crafted today's CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge with three triple stacks of 15-letter entries; I like Will's 15s, but most triple-triples lose me with the 3s and 4s crossing the stacks.