January 19, 2007

Saturday, 1/20

LAT 6:50
Newsday 5:52
NYT 5:25
CS 3:06

(post updated at 7:50 a.m. Saturday)

Woot! There’s a 56-word crossword from Harvey Estes in the NYT, and it’s practically like having four separate mini-themeless puzzles in one. True story: My mom called the other day to discuss a couple oldish crosswords, one by Harvey and one by another esteemed constructor whose work doesn't quite "click" with me—and she volunteered that she didn't much enjoy the other person's puzzle, but really liked Harvey's. Apparently, cruciverbal wavelength and sensibilities may be genetic, as I also like Harvey's work. (Aside: I could swear Will Shortz occasionally dispenses little hints a day or two ahead of time to help regular solvers—why would the clue for Friday’s CARIB include the word “Trinidadian” if not to nudge us toward TRINIDAD as today's answer to [Columbus discovery of 1498]?) Anyway, bizarre solving experience here: I got 1-Across (CANAL) and its first four crossings (including the mislead in [Half of an old comedy duo]—yes, Jerry Stiller and ANNE MEARA don't do the duo business these days, but they're still both in show biz) just like that. This doesn't ordinarily happen in Saturday puzzles. Anyone else notice that PIASTER ([Part of a pound], as in the Syrian and Egyptian currency unit, the pound) and BIAS TIRE share an IAST*R chunk? Another pairing is ALIKE (clued as [Not disparate]) atop SAME AS ([Matching, with "the"]). I first thought the [Words before a sarcastic "ha ha"] were I'LL BET, but I GET IT turned out to fit there. Who doesn't love the Georgia-the-country vs. Georgia-the-state trick? The [Political leader from Georgia] wasn't CARTER or anyone from Congress but rather, STALIN. [Driving range device?] is, aptly, ODOMETER. [Chewed on] has nought to do with gnawing; it's PONDERED. And a STILETTO can be an [Eyelet creator]. I rather wanted [Supplements] to be a noun like VITAMINS, but it decided to be ENLARGES instead. [Producing bullets?] is a great clue for SWEATING, no? I hadn't known that the capital city of KABUL was located on the Kabul River. I have a friend whose last name is [Stout], so I was glad the answer was INTREPID rather than something meaning "portly." Never heard of the [Brazilian beach resort] OLINDA. I must resolve to use the word MOLDER (meaning to [Crumble], decay, or rot) more often. (Speaking of that, just saw a book review that mentioned the vocabulary of the cad character—he uses words like "anon" and "soupçon" in speech. I think I would like that cad.) Never been a big ALAN KING fan, but I appreciate the quote in the clue: "Marriage is nature's way of keeping us from fighting with strangers." Crazily fearsome-looking grid, but in the end, I found it quite tractable (easier than the Friday NYT by Karen Tracey). What was your experience?


Favorite entries in John Farmer's themeless LA Times crossword: DR SCHOLLS, SORE LOSER, CAST DOUBT, THE LOUVRE.

Plenty of long words in Doug Peterson's Newsday Saturday Stumper—of the ten 10-letter entries, seven are single words. Favorite clues: [It might have a slide on the side] for SWINGSET and [One on a liquid diet] for VAMPIRE BAT.