November 07, 2006

Wednesday, 11/8

NYS 4:22
NYT 3:58
CS 3:15
LAT tba

(post updated 8:10 and 9:40 a.m. Wednesday)

It's mighty hard to focus one's attention on a crossword when election returns are rolling in on TV, and harder still to focus on blogging when Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are on. So I'll be brief, and I won't do the Sun crossword until the morning.

The NYT by Lee Glickstein and Nancy Salomon made me giggle a few times—first when I encountered the word STENOS, clued as [People in a pool]. NYT forum moderator Will Johnston had just opened discussion this afternoon on dated words that still appear in crosswords, and stenos were a hot topic. I was entertained by the [Borden bovine] ELSIE, as my cousin recently named a baby Elsie (and everyone over the age of 30 seems to respond, "Elsie—like the cow?"). There were a couple politically themed entries (SEN and INS), hearkening back to the Tuesday puzzle. I don't know how I feel about GEISHA being clued as [Gentleman's companion]—today's forum trolling has me feeling extra-sensitive to potential sexist undercurrents in language. It even got in the way of properly appreciating [Has an outstanding figure?] as the clever clue for OWES. Of course, sometimes a CIGAR is just a [Thick smoke?].


The Sun puzzle is by Courtenay Crocker (hi, Co!). I went at this crossword all wrong, saving the top right section for last—meaning I didn't grok the DIAGONALLY aspect until late in the game, and I was waiting for some sort of crossing of answers with A's to reveal itself. Aha! Both corner-to-corner diagonals contain only the letter A. Neat trick. And who doesn't like to be reminded of kinetic ART? Raise your hand if you knew that ASES was Spanish for aces, as in the playing cards.

Anyone else having trouble getting Cruciverb to load? I can't get in there to access today's LA Times crossword.

If you're in the mood for a light crossword that smashes any number of cruciverbal conventions just for fun, go download Pat Merrell's MAD Magazine 50th Anniversary puzzle from a few years ago. You may think there are a couple unchecked letters, but no! There are Down clues for 1-letter entries in those squares. Some familiarity with MAD, even if it's from decades ago, will be helpful. There are also 2-letter entries, clues that go ahead and tell you the answer, and trumped-up fill. In the wrong hands, those would make for a dreadful puzzle, but the Pat Merrell/MAD combo makes it work. Enjoy!