November 17, 2006

Saturday, 11/18

NYT 5:44
Newsday 4:13
LAT 5:43
CS 2:52

Reagle 9:04
WSJ 7:12

(post updated at 9:10 a.m. Saturday)

The Saturday NYT is Vic Fleming’s first themeless puzzle in this particular outlet, and it’s a fun one. Who doesn't like a classic Saturday Night Live reference (here's a BABA WAWA script). [Clothing item with strings], 6 letters starting with B—BIKINI, right? Nope, BONNET. US STEEL itself isn't fun, but if you subtract an E and anagram what's left, you get the next word over, TUSSLE. Three 15-letter entries hold everything together in a free-flowing; yesterday's NYT crossword was closer to six discrete sections with less flow between them—mind you, that's not a bad thing in my book, as I'm fond of challenging themelesses. The AMERICAN EMBASSY is crossed by [Envoy and others], which relates not to diplomats but cars (GMCS), and then GMCS crosses a Toyota. Favorite clues: [Boomer born in the 1960's] for ESIASON, [Something to part with] for ADIEU. I'd never heard of poet SONIA Sanchez or sportscaster Chris SCHENKEL, but the crossings were all fair and I learned some new names. I took a jewelry/metalsmithing class in college, and don't recall the word COLLET when we learned to make bezel settings like this, but apparently it's the same thing. And how cute is the PACA?

Friday's Wall Street Journal crossword, Elizabeth Gorski's "Additional Charges May Apply," inserted an ION into the theme entries—including one built from the base phrase POT PARTY. (You know what they say about those folks at the Wall Street Journal, right? Stoners, all of 'em.) Seemed easier than usual.

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle, "Triple Play," marks the national population odometer rolling over to 300,000,000 by including 16 3's in the grid. Cool trick! (You ever find yourself filling in a crossword and see the pattern **GINA, and wonder what the clue would be?)


Doug Peterson's Newsday Saturday Stumper had good fill, but the clues were on the easy side. Bob Mackey's LA Times crossword also had some lively long entries.