July 02, 2005

Saturday puzzles

Presumably the hordes will be expressing specific praise of Sherry O. Blackard's Sat. NYT over at the NYT forum starting right about now. Fun puzzle! SVENGALI filled itself in at 1A, and the rest of the puzzle followed from there (with a little hopping around necessary); POTATOES was the last to fall.

There's no NYS puzzle on weekends, of course, so I set myself a time limit of 10 minutes for both the LAT and CrosSynergy puzzles. They were both far easier than the SOB NYT—my time was 7:57.

On Saturdays, I've taken to doing the Saturday Stumper (Creators Syndicate). Today's was by Stan Newman himself, and I'd heard it was fearsome. I set an ambitious goal of 10:00, but didn't finish until 10:51 had elapsed. (How many seconds can I subtract from that finishing time to reflect the time spent arguing with my kid?) If you're looking to kill more time than usual this weekend on crosswords, print out Stan's puzzle and bring an eraser. I do have one major nit, though, with 38A. If you haven't done the Stumper but intend to, stop reading now!

The clue for 38A is "Splenda alternative." Splenda, of course, is a trade name for the artificial sweetener sucralose. Five letters? I confidently filled in EQUAL. But no. It turns out what Stan's got there is OLEAN. The fat substitute. Now, if I were to sweeten some iced tea (which I generally wouldn't—the Southern concept of "sweet tea" horrifies me) and felt like avoiding sugar but the restaurant was out of Splenda, I might go with Equal or Sweet'N Low (swear to god that's how the Sweet'N Low folks handle the typography), but I really doubt I'd reach for butter, oleo, or Olean. There was that time I tried the hot buttered tea at the Tibet Café, but that's not an experience I'll be repeating. Splenda and Olean are both in the Frankensteinian non-foodstuff category, but they could scarcely be considered alternatives to one another.

Aside from that one nit, the rest of the puzzle was packed with fairly clued and fresh entries. So go enjoy the pain if you haven't tackled the Stumper already!