May 28, 2007

Monday, 5/28

NYT 2:13
LAT 2:29
CS 3:07
Newsday 2:17

Hi everyone, Al here one more time. I don't think I was supposed to do the blog tonight, but it looks like Amy didn't get a chance to post, so I thought I'd post a very quick entry for Monday, just so folks have a place to comment. Amy, feel free to supercede this with your own post tomorrow if you like. No Sun today, due to the Memorial Day holiday, so just three puzzles to talk about.

NY Times, John Underwood

This was a perfect Monday puzzle. A very tight theme, with three 15-letter entries starting with Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral and then the fourth entry being the game in which "Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral?" is asked, Twenty Questions, which conveniently has 15 letters as well! The puzzle was thus very tightly constrained, with the theme entries having to come in a particular order, and yet the rest of the puzzle has solid Monday level fill without a clunker in the grid. Very impressive construction. By the way, have you seen those 20Q handheld games? They're truly amazing how often they guess right. You can find the same engine online here. I just tried 20Q Movies and picked one of my favorite movies, Annie Hall, and it got it! In college we sometimes played 20,000 Questions where you would come up with the most ridiculous scenario possible and everyone would have as many questions as they liked to come up with it. One time I came up with "Queen Elizabeth winning the Kentucky Derby riding backward on Secretariat" and people were able to get it.

LAT, David W. Cromer

Another excellent Monday puzzle, with tons of theme, and a very clever one at that. In the center of the puzzle we have BOOK ENDS (placed in two entries) and in four other theme entries are phrases that start with "Bookends", that is words that can end a phrase that starts with book. So, a bookrack leads to RACK OF LAMB, a bookmark gives us MARK HAMILL, etc. On top of all that, we have ten vertical 7's slicing through the puzzle. All that and Monday simplicity, too! Well done.

CrosSynergy, "Up Front", Randy Ross

This was a little tougher than the other two, with the best theme of the bunch, although very easy to get from the title. Too bad I didn't look at the title before starting to solve, it would have helped me. Randy takes three common phrases and alters them by adding "UP" to the front. So, Right Reverend becomes UPRIGHT REVEREND, "set the stage" becomes UPSET THE STAGE, and scale drawings becomes UPSCALE DRAWINGS. Not quite as many theme squares as the other two, but 4 great vertical stacks at the corners to compensate.

Three very strong Monday efforts today, so bring on those comments. Happy Memorial Day!