January 30, 2007

Wednesday, 1/31

NYS 3:59
NYT 3:53
LAT 3:35
CS 3:21

Co Crocker passed along word from Will Johnston that the Wednesday NYT crossword is a different creature in the applet than in Across Lite or the newspaper proper. If you're wedded to using the applet, I'll tell you what's in the Across Lite notepad below the cut.

This puzzle is by Brendan Emmett Quigley, and I've already stashed a copy in my "great puzzles" folder. Why? Because of the overall quality of the clues and fill and because of the gimmick. One could say that the puzzle exceeds the usual word-count limits, since there are 81 entries, and one could carp that there are only 31 theme squares—but the three theme entries run on the diagonal, and I hear it's mighty hard to build a puzzle within the constraints of three-way cross-checking of the theme squares. Despite the high word count, many of the entries are long words and phrases, so it sort of has an easy-themeless vibe to it, particularly for those solving on the NYT's applet (where the three diagonal clues were not provided). Those clues are:

1. Face imaginary enemies
7. 1972 Bill Withers #1 hit
37. Bettor's buy

Going back to the straight across and down stuff, my favorite clues and entries were: LA BOHEME, I'M LATE, SMOLDER, [One who may bug you] for SPY, [It's basic] for ALKALI, [Time and time again?] for TWICE, TITIAN RED ([Brownish orange]), MOS DEF, "THEM'S the breaks," and [Two-dimensional world?] for ATLAS. The entries that are borderline iffy (I don't question their legitimacy—just don't care for them) in my book—Roman numeral DII, LSTS, WAAH, POOLE, ENNIS—all intersect with the diagonals, so I can look past them.

I also admired Alan Arbesfeld's Sun puzzle, "H2O," in which the theme entries turn an H into an O. My favorite of the theme entries was COIN A (China) SYNDROME. Juicy clues and entries included [One who makes many sound investments?] for AUDIOPHILE, [Piñata feature] for TILDE, [French toast] for SALUT, [Wild West?] for MAE, [First offer?] for CAIN, INAMORATAS, [Server's offering] for SUBPOENA, and [It's sometimes right on the nose] for ZIT.