August 06, 2005

A slew of Saturday puzzles

Frank Longo's Sat. NYT is close to perfect. Packed with entries and clues we haven't seen often (if ever) before, with long entries sandwiched together like extremely intricate Oreos, seasoned with a smattering of wee obscurities (such as HOB, "rounded quoits peg") to hone our cruciverbal skills.

The former dental editor in me would be remiss if I didn't express appreciation for 1A, ORALHEALTH, the shout-out to dentists as more than the meanies they are rumored to be. That's just one of the 14 10-letter entries, which include FUZZBUSTER, JEANEDIXON, AMBERALERT, BEEFNOODLE, and, goodness me, GOODNESSME. I never think of LAVAROCKS as "volcanic spew," but rather as those homely brown rocks overused in landscaping. (Do the rocks get spewed out of volcanos in that very color?)

Joe DiPietro's LAT puzzle was challenging, but didn't have the same oomph as the Longo. (Not many puzzles do.)

The Saturday Stumper by "Anna Stiga" (Stan Newman) was easier than other Stumpers in recent memory. Lots of trivia: Did you know the Romans called Portugal Lusitania? I didn't. I accidentally printed out the Friday Creators Syndicate puzzle by Doug Peterson; typically I do only the Saturday Stumper each week. The theme, "Right to Left," entailed swapping out the letter R for an L (e.g., "Bozo's valuables?" = CLOWNJEWELS). Cute, but easy.

NYT 6:19
LAT 6:12
CHE 7/15 5:49
Sat. Stumper 5:26
Fri. Creators Synd. 3:39
CS 3:25

In the category of Sunday-size puzzles, my favorite this week (not counting tomorrow's NYT and LAT, which I've not seen yet) is the WaPo by Harvey Estes. The theme, "Apostrophe Atrophy," seemed a bit Reaglesque. Favorite entries/clues included "Oscar's place" for TRASHCAN, RIOTACT, PORKPIE, and MEACULPA. The theme entries paint humorous pictures: "Slow creatures act impatiently?" = SNAILSPACE. (Can you see them in the waiting room, oozing back and forth?) "Authors play on the line?" = WRITERSBLOCK. (Do you see the novelists in their football gear?) "Mick and mates warm up in the bullpen?" = STONESTHROW. (I hear Mick and Keith's arms snapping.)

WaPo 9:00
PI 8:34
LA Weekly 8:02