September 20, 2006

Thursday, 9/21

NYS 4:26
NYT 3:37
LAT 3:19
CS 3:00

I enjoyed the theme in Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's NYT crossword and the themelessness of Karen Tracey's Sun puzzle. I also enjoyed the fact that these puzzles filled themselves in pretty quickly. In the NYT, if you know a couple words in Polish or Czech, odds are that 17-Across's DZIEKUJE shouted out that 30- and 47-Down were THANK and YOU. GRAZIE, MERCI, and DANKE are fairly well-known, OBRIGADO and TAK are not too difficult to figure out, and XIEXIE...well, the crossings sure were helpful there! If the link works right, you can hear a KLAXON here. I like the Scrabbliness of these assorted words of gratitude, too.

In Karen's Themeless Thursday in the Sun, I was drawing a blank on which country starting with A had the capital Baku. Then I remembered this was a Karen Tracey puzzle, and Karen often works impressively Scrabbly words into her puzzles, so it had to be AZERBAIJAN—which is just one of a dozen top-notch 10-letter entries here. My favorite clues here were [Course for Crusoe?] for ANAGRAM, [Bottom line reader] for BASS, and [August shower] for PERSEIDS. I didn't know the name RAJA Gosnell; turns out he also directed two Scooby-Doo movies, Big Momma's House, and Home Alone 3, among other movies. And if you were wondering about CARD SHARK being used rather than CARD SHARP, read this Language Log post on the two terms.


In Doug Peterson's good LA Times puzzle, the five theme entries rhyme but all spell the ending sound differently. And it's not the most obvious choice, like the different ways of spelling the long-A sound—the result is an interesting group of theme entries, and the non-theme fill has some highlights, too.