August 20, 2005

True confessions

Okay, I admit it. There's an explanation for that quicker-than-usual time for a tougher-than-usual puzzle, Byron Walden's "The Mamas and the Papas." I did it in unedited form a couple months ago, so I already knew how the theme worked and had the added advantage of prior exposure to the more wicked fill. It's not totally cheating, though. Remember, I'm the person who bought the same Henry Hook book under two different titles and had to be told that the puzzles were identical even though I'd done half of them a second time. Give me two months and it practically becomes a new puzzle! (Just not quite as challenging the second time around.) I hadn't timed myself on the last go-round with "Mamas and Papas," but it was probably in the 10- to 15-minute range (i.e., longer than most Sunday NYTs for me).

As you'd expect, there are some hall-of-fame clues, like "face trouble" for ACNE and "tube top honors" for EMMYS. And there's a good amount of trivia to be learned within this puzzle, both informative (ADELAIDE is the "City of Churches") and entertaining (MRT "played Santa with Nancy Reagan in his lap").

Back in June, I predicted that this puzzle would be greeted with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and perhaps accusations of Saturday-level incursions into Sunday. That reliably fast solvers like makrausse and hoffmanspa spent over 20 minutes on this indicates that Will Shortz thought a Saturday-level challenge on a Sunday was a capital idea. I, for one, want to see more puzzles in this vein. So please, everybody tell Will how much they enjoyed the wailing and the gnashing of teeth, and beg for more.