September 01, 2007

Sunday, 9/2

LAT 9:40
PI 8:52
NYT 8:23
WaPo 7:57
BG 7:12

CS 3:06

I might not get a chance to track down the other Sunday puzzles before the time comes to pack up and head to the airport, so this may be a one-puzzle entry.

At last! My ego, bruised by Friday's Paula Gamache crossword and bludgeoned by Karen Tracey's puzzle on Saturday, has been salved by Lee Glickstein and Nancy Salomon's Sunday New York Times crossword, "Put It in Writing." The theme entries were accessible—each phrase is a book/story/other written entity with an IT dropped into it, so the gripping Randy Shilts book, And the Band Played On, becomes AND THE BANDIT PLAYED ON. The most awesomest book/record/TV special of my childhood, Free To Be You and Me, goes vampirical with FREE TO BITE YOU AND ME. (Nostalgics, did you know you can get the Marlo Thomas extravaganza on DVD now? Holy jumping catfish, was Harry Belafonte ever a fine-looking man back in the '70s. And Michael Jackson, such a cute kid.)

Things I liked: TABASCO clued a little harder as [Mexican state east of Veracruz]; [Crumb catchers, often] for BEARDS (ewww!); [Warning signal, once] for ALARUM (what is it about ALARUM that I find so charming? It's got, what, a little Monty Burns vibe to it?); [Triangular kerchief] for FICHU (because it's one of those silly archaic clothing accessories known to two groups: romance novel fans and regular crossword solvers; and because it sounds like both a sneeze and something to catch a sneeze in); ["Just because"] for "NO REASON"; [Money maker] for MINT ("Shake your money maker!" "What, this here device for pressing coins?"); [Mexican Indians] for OTOMIS (because it was one of those deadly obscure answers in a Saturday puzzle a couple years ago, but now it has a hint of familiarity about it); [Piddling] for PICAYUNE (a word I should work into conversation more often); the extra hint in [Saucy dance] for SALSA; [Copycat] for EPIGONE (here's a great Kundera quote using the word); [Goes downhill] for WORSENS (not slaloms); [One way to live transsexually] for AS A MAN; [Peevish] for TETCHY (another word I should use more: "The Saturday puzzle let me feeling a mite tetchy"); [Japanese band] for OBI; [Putting all the poker chips in the pot, maybe] for BLUFF; [United places] for TERMINALS; [Hunter of literature] for Hunter S. THOMPSON; [One whose work may suit you] for CLOTHIER; and [Study in multiplication and division] for AMOEBA.

Things I wasn't crazy about: ORAL LAW ([Some unwritten rules]); the return of OLEO, which I think has been blissfully absent from the Times and Sun puzzles for weeks now; and the applet glitch that rendered the clue for TELL-ALL as [Expos?] rather than [Exposé]. As to the latter, I did leave a note for applet master Peter Ritmeester at the Times' Play Against the Clock forum asking for a fix.

The summary for this puzzle: 35-Across, [Kind of boost]: EGO. Although obviously the ego is not a kind of boost, just as a sea is not a kind of anemone (that's the classic example used at the NYT Today's Puzzle forum). Does anyone have an explanation for why the [Kind of...] clues aren't all switched to fill-in-the-blank clues to eliminate this particular inelegance? [___ boost] would be a perfectly fine clue for EGO.


Cox and Rathvon's Boston Globe puzzle, "New Word Order," was pretty easy—once you had a portion of a theme entry, you could often fill in the rest of it. My favorite of the flip-flopped splits was GOON RAN RANGOON. The theme offers just a hint of cryptic-crossword wordplay.

Feels like it's been a while since we've seen Will Johnston's byline atop a CrosSynergy puzzle. His themeless "Sunday Challenge" was perhaps the easiest themeless I've ever done—the seven long entries were clued pretty accessibly, and once you fill in those, the puzzle's half done. Favorite clue: [Use just one setting?] for EAT ALONE.

I'm falling asleep on the syndicated LA Times crossword by Robert Doll. Long day, traveling, a seat beside a jet engine—it's time for bed. More puzzles/blogging tomorrow!

Updated again:

Okay, I finished that LA Times puzzle, "Job Transfers." Solving moves a lot more swiftly when one is well-rested! The theme entries include homophones within job titles—KNIGHT WATCHMAN, MAIL MODEL at the post office, etc.

Pamela Amick Klawitter's Washington Post puzzle, "Breakfast Club," breaks FAST apart and fills it with other letters: FALCON CREST, for example.

Updated finally on Monday night:

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer offering, "Puzzle with a Twist," starts the theme clearly with BOB LEMON and HARRY LIME and goes on to include a whopping 14 more theme entries (including SLIMEBALL and LITTLE MONSTERS) that contain the letter sequences LEMON or LIME. Straightforward enough, if a little tart. And zesty. One name I'd never seen before: the L. Frank Baum character Queen ZIXI of Ix.