November 01, 2006

Thursday, 11/2

NYS 4:02
Wed. LAT 3:44
Thurs. LAT 3:34
CS 3:21
NYT 2:58

John Farmer's NYT puzzle is one of the easiest Thursday offerings in a while, but it demands that you take a little extra time after solving to luxuriate in the fully realized theme. Over in the Sun, Karen Tracey's byline sits atop the Themeless Thursday puzzle, a classic Karen-styled creation.

Without further ado, in-depth spoilers: In the NYT, John has packed the grid with interesting longish entries (ITALIAN JOB, in which my kid loved the Mini Coopers racing down into the subway; FLIP A COIN; LETS SLIP, with its four consonants in a row; OBJET D'ART, INFLUX; and Chicago Bears legend Walter PAYTON). I zipped on through the puzzle, finding it to be a smooth and fun solve...and then I said, "Hang on. What's this theme all about?" You count the NUMBER OF LETTERS in each answer, MULTIPLY BY THREE, and get the number of letters in EACH ANSWER'S CLUE. By gum, it works! Holy cow, the clues for the three 15's contain 45 letters each! The abbreviated entries have abbreviated clues, and there are even some ? clues—[A foot wide?] for EEE, [Put away, crypt-ically?] for ENTOMB, [Joy of the morning?] for BEHAR. Will Shortz and assorted constructors typically do a fantastic job with these crosswords that have significant restraints on clue writing—the clues here don't seem "off" despite the length requirement.

Karen's themeless puzzle contains a rich assortment of Scrabbly letters (an X, two Z's, three J's, and a sprinkling of K's) that grace the long entries, TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE and VLADIMIR NABOKOV (clued with an anagram!) bound together, logically, by KENNEBUNKPORT. Then there's JIPIJAPA hats next to ANASAZI, a TALLBOY can of beer, ONE L LAMA clued as [Priest of poetry], and [Not balmy] cluing SANE (rather than, say, CHILLY). Not to mention a little early-'80s pop music with FALCO—who doesn't love that era of music? Plus (as mentioned in the Wikipedia piece on Falco), "Rock Me Amadeus" was aped by "The Simpsons" with the "Dr. Zaius, Dr. Zaius" bit. Good times.