June 08, 2007

Saturday, 6/9

LAT 4:59
NYT 4:39
Newsday (untimed)
CS 3:20

(updated at 8:15 a.m. Saturday)

Well, my copy of Henry Hook's Terribly Twisted Crosswords arrived this afternoon. I haven't had a chance to start it, but did note that there are 21 different puzzle types in the book, all variety crosswords with nonstandard grids. This is going to be good fun!

Speaking of variety grids, Trip Payne's got a few of those at his new puzzle site, Triple Play Puzzles. So far, he has posted about 20 of his own puzzles, including themed and (oversized!) themeless crosswords, cryptics, variety crosswords, and crisscrosses. I haven't had a chance to dig into every section yet, but of course I headed straight for the large themeless puzzles weeks ago. Trip also includes a page with all his puzzle books—holy cow, there are a lot!—including descriptions of the books and Amazon links to buy 'em.

I've added a link to Trip's page in the sidebar to the right, along with two new blogs. Madness--Crossword and Otherwise is where Linda G., one of my guest bloggers last month, writes about the NYT crossword each day. For another look at the NY Sun crossword, check out Robert Loy's Green Genius.

I'm invariably pleased to see Karen Tracey's byline on a themeless crossword, and the 68-word Saturday NYT this weekend is no exception. Karen tends to include lots of what I like best: pop culture, Scrabbly letters, fun phrases or words, and geographic oddities. This NYT puzzle doesn't quiz us on any exotic foreign cities, but it's got Karen's other hallmarks. To wit: ERIC IDLE (clued as [Author of "The Greedy Bastard Diary: A Comic Tour of America"]), Nick NOLTE, Phoebe CATES of Princess Caraboo (not clued as Kevin Kline's wife!), and LEVI Stubbs of the Four Tops round out the pop-cult allotment. JEZEBELS and FOXGLOVE help us consume our daily RDA of Scrabbliness. There's just a fresh vibe from entries like G-FORCE (tricky consecutive consonants), EGGHEADS, and SLIPSHOD. Karen also makes us learn (or know) a little astronomy and pharmacy—ALBEDO is a [Measure of reflected light], Friedrich BESSEL is that German astronomer, FOXGLOVE gives us the heart drug digitalis, and Valium's generic name is DIAZEPAM. Favorite clues: the vague [Ready] for PRIME (a verb in both instances); [Complex component] for NEUROSIS; [Arabic name that means "servant of God"] for ABDUL (see Paula Abdul dance with a toon here); [President who claimed to be a voodoo priest] for Haiti's DUVALIER; [Colt handler] for GUNSMITH; [Extreme bovarism] for EGOMANIA; and the "huh?" clue of [Hindu drink of immortality] for the "huh?" answer of AMRITA. P.S. You pop-culture HATERS can simmer down—Karen also gives us two answers from the world of opera (ELSA, LA BOHEME) and two from Greek mythology (OCEANUS, IOLE).


Quick takes: Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy puzzle has a cute theme and a couple lovely long fill entries. Robert Wolfe's themeless LA Times puzzle was a little tougher than the NYT and a little less for for me (low pop-culture quotient, which many of you like!). Daniel Stark's Newsday Saturday Stumper seemed fairly easy (got a phone call midway through, so who knows how long it took?) for a Stumper.