December 15, 2006

Saturday, 12/16

NYT 6:23
LAT 5:15
Newsday (untimed, but felt about as hard as the LAT)
CS 2:59

12/15 WSJ 7:57

(post updated at 9:40 a.m. Saturday)

Okay, the Wall Street Journal crossword was posted early Friday evening, but I haven't gotten to that yet. Saturday...definitely Saturday.

Also, you can buy some Wordplay merchandise here—mugs, autographed copies of the companion book, a gift set complete with Jon Stewartian glue stick and permanent marker, and hats. Oh, how I coveted the official Wordplay caps that Patrick Creadon and Will Shortz sported at Sundance! And now, my very own cap is en route to me.

The Saturday NYT by David Quarfoot felt a little easier than yesterday's puzzle, and I'll blame the pinot grigio for allowing me to persuade myself that one made-up answer was real: I started out with RESET crossing ESPNETS, even though the latter's clue specifically says "cable," and ESPNews (vexingly lacking its other N) is something I've heard of while ESPNETS is merely something I imagined might include. Strokes of brilliance: [Faux finish] for SILENT X, [Persian attraction] for CATNIP, MR APRIL, SAME-SEX couples, AT THE GYM, YES IT IS (which looks an awful lot like it could be a word for inflammation of the yes), HOKKAIDO (double K!), and all the X's (including PERPLEX, KIX, and X-GAMES). I don't know if it's intentional or not, but it seems like Will Shortz often rewards regular solvers by including some oddball factoid or word twice in a week—that Tahitian airline clue for NUI helped RAPA NUI come quickly to mind in this puzzle. The cross-referenced 3-letter entries, EFF and PEE, are the initials of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president. (Forgot all about him.) Didn't know the TRIOLET [French poetic form], either. And even though almost half of this grid is 7-letter entries, there's so much flavor to them—few of the tack-on-a-prefix-or-suffix, not-quite-a-word words, and plenty of lively and fun stuff that you don't see in many crosswords.

A friend who is visiting me was delighted to know that she'd have gotten at least one entry, the Will and Grace character ROSARIO (Yay, pop culture! See also RENT-A-COP and the A-TEAM.)—but she figures SKEGS (which is clued as [Back parts of keels]) is just a made-up word invented for crosswords. (Cynic!) So I Googled it, and look what's in the Wikipedia entry—more made-up words! "Gudgeons and pintles," my eye!


The theme in "Pest Infestation," the Wall Street Journal crossword by Harvey Estes, came to me quickly—ANTs invading the pantry and/or picnic of the theme entries. What I liked best here, actually, were the NW and SE corners with their bundled 8-letter entries—APPLE PIE, BLEEPING, and BANDANNA, EINSTEIN and his friend ERIC IDLE.

Paula Gamache's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Tight Ends," has a very basic theme (phrases that end with words that may follow "tight"), but has a fun vibe to it.

Myles Callum's LA Times themeless is a nice one, with stacks of 9- and 10-letter entries. Doug Peterson's Newsday Saturday Stumper also has stacks of 9-letter entries in the corners, bound together by two 15-letter entries crossing in the center. [Center of South Florida], 5 letters, is not EPCOT, which is in central Florida.