March 04, 2007

Monday, 3/5

Sunday WaPo 9:32
LAT 3:10
NYS 3:02
CS 2:51
NYT 2:41

(post updated at 11:10 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Monday—Happy Casimir Pulaski Day, everyone!)

Fred Piscop's NYT crossword has plenty of names of entities both real and fictional, and I'm fond of names in crossword puzzles. But wow, talk about a mess, huh? This puzzle is filthy, what with the theme entries beginning with DIRT, GREASE, GRUNGE, and MUD. There's no telling what sort of muck PORKY, the DEER, and the STEED might EMIT, what ROTTEN matter might SEEP out of them and need to be shoveled up with the SPADE. Fortunately, this grid also DETERGES the mess with PRIDE. GRUNGE ROCKER and GREASE MONKEY make for a terrific pair of theme entries. I like the old-school golf club name, CLEEK; for a list of other old names for clubs, see here.


Sunday's Washington Post puzzle wasn't available online yesterday, but the constructor, Dave Sullivan (a.k.a. "Evad") sent me his pre-edited copy of the puzzle to tide me over until the official version was posted (it's available via Puzzle Pointers now). The second time through the puzzle, I discovered that I still liked the "Kinda Sorta" theme—which can be summed up by the last theme entry, SEVERELY PUNISH, as in pun-ish. (The final clue is What Marx Brothers movies do?], but it was originally along the lines of [How someone having trouble with the puzzle might describe it?], which sort of defines the theme in a way the Marx clue doesn't.) [Kudos for a bathroom renovation?] is LAV-ISH PRAISE, and [Ruing the effects of 8 quarts of beer?] is FEELING PECK-ISH. But the final version lacks the zesty Dave flavor I appreciated in the original draft—LEMONY and GORILLA were clued with reference to pop culture's LEMONY Snicket and Magilla GORILLA rather than as [Like some sodas] and [Silverback, e.g.]. UNCLE SAM was originally clued as [One all Americans relate to?], but now is [Patriotic pointer]. So the comparison supports my running observation: I definitely prefer pop culture and question-marked clues and think they enhance a crossword's entertainment value (for me, anyway). I suppose they objectively increase the difficulty level of a puzzle, but then, my personal preference is for more difficult puzzles.


Okay, I'm back from a late lunch beneath the Bean with friends from out of town the continent and see that this week's Sun puzzles were posted while I was away. As Michael noted in the comments a few minutes ago (writing about the Monday Sun while I was solving it, as it happens), Kevan Choset and Perry Choset's "Non-Square Meal" was surprisingly easy for a Sun puzzle. Technically, an EVERYTHING BAGEL will include POPPY seed and SESAME seed, but that doesn't diminish the theme's tastiness. Lots of first names in the grid (plus TYLER, which doubles as both a first and last name). I like the currency of the clue for POSSE, [Entourage]. Most previous clues have referenced the Wild West, and a few others have cited rappers or NBA players. Good to see a clue that reflects the broader usage POSSE has now. (For example, I'm working on gathering a posse around me at Stamford.)