September 11, 2006

Tuesday the 12th

Tues. NYS 4:50
Tausig 4:30
Mon. NYS 3:23
LAT 3:20
NYT 3:09
CS 2:57

Without tossing my solving times into a spreadsheet (and, presumably, without knowing the details of your own solving times), how would you guess the Friday NYT, New York Sun Weekend Warrior (the themeless puzzles publishing on alternate Fridays), and Saturday NYT crosswords stack up against each other in terms of difficulty? Which of the three do you consider the hardest?

The theme in James R. Leeds' NYT crossword revealed itself quickly, didn't it? Moving right along to spoilers—right there in 1-Across, the circled letters spelled the Greek letter NU, giving a huge hint to what was in the circled letters in seven other entries and what the central 15-letter entry might say: IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME. While I don't object to NAZI clued as ["The Soup ___" (classic "Seinfeld" episode)], it would have been easy to swap it out for NAVE (crossing HOVELS and EPEE) to extirpate the word. There are some creaky old entries (RETE, OENO, ETAPE) and a name I'd never heard (former NASCAR driver Ernie IRVAN), but more important was great fill like S[PHI]NX crossing URTEXT, RABBIT EARS, GUAVA, and BA[RHO]P. Seeing SHIH Tzu reminds me of a hand-lettered sign posted in my neighborhood, seeking a lost dog—but the dog was described as a "shit-zu."


Those of us who don't live in New York (or eschew right-leaning newspapers) went without the Sun puzzle yesterday, but it just means we get two today. In Gary Steinmehl's Monday puzzle, "Say It With Vowels," I wasn't sure what [Stag movie] was getting at, and was surprised to see BAMBI. (Makes perfect sense, of course.) Then there's [Obstacle on the way to second base?] for BRA.

Randall Hartman's Tuesday Sun, "Show Me the Show Me State," adds an MO to the theme entries. It would have gone a little easier for me if I'd ever heard of the Modoc tribe, and if Doc Savage were more prominent in my mind than Dan Savage.

Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy theme is movies ending with the names of countries. Can you think of any besides the three he included? Out of Africa came to my mind, but Africa's not a single nation.

I really like the theme entries in the LA Times puzzle by Gia Christian ("it's Rich again").

In his Ink Well crossword, "Blending In," Ben Tausig spices up a themed puzzle with two themeless-style stacks of 9-letter entries, including the " that right?" BOYZ II MEN.