December 05, 2006

Wednesday, 12/6

NYS 4:33
NYT 3:44
LAT 3:44
CS 3:15

(post updated at 8:20 a.m. Wednesday)

Okay, today's the day I will talk about Patrick Blindauer's Sun puzzle, the one I inadvertently did a day early. (I do try to solve the Sun puzzles on the NYT-solving schedule for ease of timely and comprehensible blogging—not that I lay claim to always being comprehensible.) And also Levi Denham's NYT crossword.

First, the NYT, as it's fresher in my mind 10 minutes after solving. The theme entries hid their commonality from me for a while. First I thought it had to do with double letters, thinking that the great 10-letter entries at 11- and 29-Down (non-theme fill, as it turns out) were part of the theme. It's delightfully showy to work INTERMEZZO and HUBBA HUBBA into the grid just for sport, crossing a couple theme entries apiece. Then I decided the theme was the embedded ERR within each long across entry, but how boring would that be? It turned out to be more elegant than that—with TERRA spanning the middle of five theme entries, it's a "LAND" BRIDGE (the sixth themer) joining each pair of words. Not crazy about NEUR, IBLE, or TIRER, but with a 66-letter theme and the aforementioned long down answers, I'm content overall.

Patrick Blindauer has a style all his own. His themes generally strike me as interesting twists I wouldn't have thought of, and that offer something a little different from what the other constructors do. In the Wednesday Sun crossword, "Getting Personal," Patrick inserts an I, YOU, HE, SHE, and IT into common phrases, and these theme entries appear in that standard grammar-lesson order (first person singular, second person singular, three types of third person singular). The fill includes nice bits like FAT LIP, PLETHORA, and REAGAN in the same corner as ATOMIC and a famous transsexual. Now, regular commenter Barry Weprin bemoans the "Petergordonisms," clues in Sun puzzles that veer toward the obscure to avoid repetition (which may well be written by the constructor and not Peter). The clue for MASH might fit that category: [Richard Hooker book subtitled "A Novel About Three Army Doctors"]. I've never heard of the author and wasn't aware the movie and TV series were based on a book, but isn't that a nifty bit of trivia to pick up? My husband was just mentioning MUIR Woods the other day—the only place I've been where you can't find your way out of the woods by knowing that moss grows on the north side of a tree, as the trees there tended to be mossy the whole way around. Another potential Petergordonism is [Taiping Rebellion general] for TSO—why the chicken dish bears the general's name is apparently unclear.


Both Raymond Hamel's CrosSynergy crossword and Jesse Goldberg's LA Times puzzle include JIMI Hendrix, on the heels of last week's Themeless Thursday in the Sun, where Seth Abel included his full name. Are you experienced?