July 13, 2005

I hate it when people call Wednesday "hump day"

...but I like Wednesdays for being the last easy day before the puzzles start to ratchet up in difficulty. If the first three days of the week are like the straightaways on the Tour de France, Thursday's a level 1 climb, Friday's between level 1 and 2, and Saturday's a level 2 climb. (Sunday is the easy ride into the heart of Paris on the last day of the Tour.) Best of all are the occasional puzzles that represent a level 3 climb, but they sure are hard to come by.

Manny's NYT was cute, and his fill seemed more fun to pronounce than most: viz. POPSQUEAK, POTATO, SWAP, SWATH, SMACK, QUITO, KAPUT, TOPEKA. I read somewhere that comedians know certain letter sounds are inherently more funny than others—wonder if Manny was consciously aiming for that effect.

I did my daily three-fer this morning and jotted down my finishing time for each puzzle along the way. I gave myself a limit of 10:30 for all three, and beat it with 10:02. The NYS was the toughest (4:57).

I enjoyed Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy (3:47) entitled "Looking Sharp." Mel had a baker's dozen of entries starting with O, which is odd and outre. ODOR and RUMP were stacked to scatological comic effect. JUJU made a welcome appearance. I was disappointed to see the clue "bread spread," but delighted to find that in a puzzle filled with O words, the spread in question was JAM rather than the dreaded OLEO. JUJU, JAM, and YAMS were all squeezed into a fun little corner.

Dave Mackey's LAT was easy (3:18), what with the Susan Lucciesque film directors providing ample help with the crossings. This is the same Dave Mackey who responded to yesterday's post (in which I said I might have trouble with a centipede/millipede theme) by sending me a 17x17 centipede/millipede crossword complete with the theme entry SCAREDAMYREYNALDO. I had thought I shouldn't tackle the puzzle without first having a beer, but did it without benefit of anesthesia. This was a mistake. While the puzzle was hard and it might have been tough to finish under the influence, instead the creepy crawlies crept directly into my subconscious, like an earwig into the ear canal. I awoke this morning in thrall to a dream featuring a hot tub filled with a giant stick bug, violent catfish, and an oversized mancing fish that turned out to be a fake one concocted by my sister to scare me. I'll be screwed if Will Shortz goes with an entomology-themed puzzle at the next ACPT. (Um, thanks, Dave, I guess. That was really thoughtful of you...or is it thoughtless?)