February 03, 2007

Sunday, 2/4

NYT 8:34
LAT 7:48
WaPo 7:45
BG 7:37
CS 4:01

(post updated at 11:30 a.m. Sunday)

I believe this was Paul Guttormsson's debut for a Sunday puzzle in the NYT. And hooray! because I really enjoyed it. This puzzle had me at HUBBA HUBBA. The theme entries are shorter than usual, and 14 of them occupy the outer perimeter of the grid; the defining entry, INITIAL INITIALS, also crosses the 15th theme entry, B-GIRL, in the center (the 15 starred clues all split like that—e.g., V-NECK, eBAY, T. REX). Given the relatively small footprint of the theme, there was plenty of room in the grid for expanses of white space, with an intriguing and lively batch of longer entries: APERITIFS, aptly, is opposite TIES ONE ON (while appetizers and aperitifs both precede a meal, I just now satisfied my curiosity about their etymologies—they're unrelated); I also liked STRIKE ONE, WHAT IS IT?!?, WHEATIES, THE STICKS, ERECTOR SET, CARRIES ON, AFTERTASTE (though I swear to you that Diet Coke sweetened with Nutrasweet does not have an aftertaste like old saccharin-sweetened pop did), and KICKSTAND. In addition to being 1,000 years, MILLENNIUM is also defined as "a hoped-for period of joy, serenity, prosperity, and justice." My favorite clue, because it kept me guessing and led to a fun word, was [Pats on the back?]. With all the pat-related clues for OLEO, BURPS made for a refreshing twist.


Great batch of crosswords today! Nothing struck me as too hard, but I enjoyed all of these.

If you thought Rich Norris's Saturday NYT was too tough, his themeless CrosSynergy puzzle offers a more easy-going challenge.

Jesse Goldberg's Washington Post puzzle, "Washroom Woes," is not about constipation. Rather, in four 21-letter entries and one 19, five bathroom items whine about their woes—cute, actually. My favorite clue was [Item in a chest] for...LUNG.

Henry Hook's Boston Globe crossword ("Who R U?") features an ennead of noted people whose names start with RU-. One of the theme people, ["Rose-Marie" composer] RUDOLF FRIML, was unfamiliar to me—Rose-Marie was a 1924 operetta. Several other words came out of left field—REAVE is an archaic word meaning [Plunder]; [Waltons creator Earl] HAMNER, Jr.; and [Postiches] are TOUPEES or wigs.

It took me until near the end to grasp the theme in Patrick Jordan's LA Times syndicated puzzle, "Bug Infestation." The word "infestation" had me looking for hidden arthropods embedded within the theme entries. Eventually I figured out that each of the eight theme entries ended with words that could be followed by "bug," such as OYSTER BED (bedbug) and LEADING LADY (ladybug).