December 03, 2006

Monday, 12/4

NYS 3:52
NYT 3:23 (or 2:38 if it hadn't been for that typo)
LAT 2:42
CS 2:25

(post updated at 5:30 p.m.. Monday)

Grr for typos! Why is it that when a typo parks itself in one corner of the grid, the solver invariably starts looking for the error on the opposite side? Must be Murphy's law of online crossword solving. One of the things I liked best about Richard Chisholm's NYT crossword was the preponderance of proper names—about 20 of them, in fact, not counting those in the theme entries. I'm fond of puzzles that include plenty of names of people and places. The theme is blissfully free of Tom Cruise, whom PENELOPE CRUZ dated for a couple years. It's nice to see Penelope keeping company here with entirely different homophones of her last name. Other highlights include GEEZER, "Been there, DONE THAT," and UNDERAGE.

Why, the theme in Gary Steinmehl's Sun puzzle positively fizzes, doesn't it? "Pop Quiz" is a 15x16 crossword with five one-word sodapop brands at the ends of the theme entries. Today, I noticed that my cellphone matches Diet Coke's silver-and-red color scheme, so it's been a carbonated day all around. Nicely Scrabbly, with three Z's, an X, a Q, and three K's. I like the non-Mondayish cluing of WATER SPRITE as [Undine], not to mention OLE MISS being [Oxford university, familiarly].

I just solved the Second Sunday NYT puzzle, a cryptic crossword by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon. Most of the Across clues contained the word "clue" or "hint," so there's a nice thematic bent to it.


I was out all day for my grandmother's funeral. The sadness was lightened considerably by the array of old photos my sister had gathered together—I hadn't ever known that one of my cousins and her daughter bore such a strong resemblance to my grandma at age 10, having never seen these photos before. And my dad had been a skinny kid—who knew he was such a butterball as a baby? Too cute. The assorted family rifts even healed up a bit today, so all in all, not so sad.

Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Big Box Office," is that rarity: An easy Monday puzzle packed with terrific fill, much of it long.

"Lila Cherry" (really Rich Norris) assembled four words/phrases with double K's for the theme, and jacked up the Scrabble count with a total of 10 K's, two Z's, two J's, and a Q.