December 30, 2006

Sunday, 12/31

NYT 9:27
WaPo 8:35
LAT 8:12
BG 7:15
CS 4:54

(post updated at noon Sunday)

Happy nascent New Year's Eve! I hope some of you have more exciting plans than I do. We're gonna have football (Bears-Packers match-up in prime time—which is throwing local Bears fans who had New Year's plans into a total tizzy) followed by whatever other TV is on. But it'll be in HD! On a big screen! And I bought a bottle of prosecco, which the Times told me was the hot new drink last summer, and I recognize that summer's long gone (in this hemisphere, anyway), but hey, it's a sparkling wine for New Year's Eve. Do these factors improve the caliber of my non-plans?

I haven't seen the Washington Post crossword yet, but I understand it's bylined by Elizabeth Gorski, who's also responsible for the jumbo (23x23) New Year's Eve crossword in the New York Times. Big theme for the 365th day of 2006—10 movie titles containing the numbers ONE to TEN, for starters. (And aptly enough, the one in the grid's center is TEN TO MIDNIGHT...nine, eight, seven...) The theme also includes COUNTDOWN IN /TIMES SQUARE and a 1987 heist flick with Peter Falk, HAPPY NEW YEAR. I would've guessed that there were at least a couple movies that started with the numbers (or "The" and then a number) from 1 to 10, but there must've been a lot of sorting out of movie titles by their lengths. Gorski managed to sandwich everything into the grid symmetrically, so that's cool. (And I bust no one's chops for ONE-EYED being in there along with 1932's ONE HOUR WITH YOU—it's crossing two theme entries, and who doesn't like a Cyclops reference?) I just confused myself looking at the finished grid. "Who is Bill Melater?" I asked myself. Ah, BILL ME LATER—a lively entry I liked as much as the adjacent QUIRKILY.


I knew Elizabeth Gorski had a knack for holiday crossword themes, but I hadn't known she could create four different New Year's themes for four different newspapers this weekend. She started the weekend off with the Wall Street Journal crossword and rounded out the year with three Sunday puzzles. The LA Times syndicated puzzle is called "Win-Win Situation"; it's got a timely quip.

Wait a minute. What's this? The Gorski Washington Post puzzle doesn't have a New Year's theme? Huh. "Middle America" is just a regular ol' theme, with some lively fill like YOU'RE UP, PINK LADY, and FREE SPIN. The clue for TOELESS is [Like some hosiery]; can anyone suggest a horrifying alternative?

This week's themeless CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge is by Harvey Estes, who's linked a trio of triple-stacked 15's together with a tenth 15-letter entry down the middle.

Hex's Boston Globe puzzle, "Sounding Board," puns with soundalike words, so that [Served atop mutton?] is ON THE LAMB. Question: What does SUNDAE PUNCH play on? What does "Sunday punch" mean?

John Samson, the editor of the Simon & Schuster crossword series, wrote to the Cruciverb-L group to rave about a couple notable puzzles in two recent books. In book #253, Frank Longo crosses vertical and horizontal triple-stacked 21-letter entries in a puzzle with a low word count of 124 (Merl Reagle once published a 21x21 with fewer words). In #249, there's a 21x21 rebus puzzle with a whopping 21 different rebus symbols; I won't mention the constructor's name in case you want to be surprised by the rebus onslaught. I've added both books to my Amazon wish list, but you never know—I may buy them myself for pre-Stamford practice binges.