July 10, 2005

A slow weekend

It's been a slow weekend—the Saturday and Sunday NYT puzzles seemed longer, harder, and more sloggy than they are most weekends. Sunday seemed to take everyone a little longer, but plenty of people found Saturday to be easier than usual. First, I started the puzzle at ten past the hour, and geek that I am, I'd really wanted to start the moment the puzzle was released. So I was already under the gun when a motorcyclist paused outside my window and gunned his engine for an unholy amount of time (why, it had to be over 30 seconds!). Eventually I had but one square left to fill: the P intersection between the Latin abbreviation SPQR and the lyricist YIP Harburg. I'd never heard of either term, not once. I began trying random letters, clicking "Done," and finding out I was wrong; lather, rinse, and repeat. During the wild-ass guess process, my husband and son came home sans house keys; their pounding on the door (and the fact that I actually had to get up and let them in) was every bit as distracting as the motorcycle. Allow me to express my gratitude that in his infinite wisdom, ACPT founder WIll Shortz has not made motorcycle sounds a part of the tournament solving experience. That, and the flying of paper airplanes over one's head—also very distracting, I assure you.

The hubbub about the ATONALITY clue at the NYT forum is beyond me. I'm not even quite sure what "key" and "tone" really mean, so I'm with the masses who said "ATONALITY fits and has something to do with music."

Con Pederson's Sunday puzzle took about 30% longer than average, thanks to those AR-to-RA theme entries and the overall challenge of the fill. The only advantage to solving a puzzle an hour late in the applet is that you can see the usual suspects' finishing times—when the fastest (real) time was Byron Walden's 11:15, I knew I could expect to spend a few extra minutes on the puzzle without feeling dense.

This morning I tackled Lynn Lempel's LAT puzzle—I can't really say what her style is exactly, but I do seem to enjoy all of her puzzles. I'm glad she publishes as often as she does. I also did Rich Norris's CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge, salivating at the prospect of a knotty themeless from Rich. Alas, I needed only 4:14 to complete it. I haven't cracked open Rich's A-to-Z Crosswords book yet, but I sure hope it's packed with his most devious work.

This week, I've been supplementing the daily puzzles by plowing through Henry Hook's Hard To Solve Word Puzzles, published in 2000. (Sterling Publishing, where are the hyphens in that title? Tsk.) These are the same types of puzzles Henry had in Twisted Crosswords (2003), but I think Twisted is harder. Either Henry upped the challenge for the second book, or I've just gotten smarter in the last couple months. Which is it?

OKAY, I'M BORED. LET'S HAVE ANOTHER CONTEST! I don't have any prizes to offer other than bragging rights. And I don't have any great contest ideas. What sounds like fun to you?