September 22, 2005

I love Fridays

Levi Denham's Friday NYT is wonderfully colloquial. FAKE IDS? Sorry, kid—AINT GONNA HAPPEN. I MEAN IT. Those DARK GLASSES will MAKE CERTAIN that you can SECRETE yourself. PERSIAN CATS link to Catwoman, the ANTIHEROINE. Then there's HIS HOLINESS, the IRISH POTATO. Got a METEORITE CRATER? Just put an AREA RUG over it. Fantastic themeless puzzle! And if you squint at the grid, its eddying design may even make you a little dizzy.

Added: Looking at the puzzle again, I notice an awful lot of 3-letter entries, most of them not English words. Granted, it's difficult to stack up 11-letter entries without generating a lot of 3-letter entries, and I'd hate to sacrifice any of these 11's just because the crossing 3's were iffy—but entries like OIE, NES, RGS, INA, CRS, FIS, and SWE don't enhance the solving experience.

Meanwhile, over in the Sun, we've got Byron Walden's Weekend Warrior, featuring the BA***ZIT* mini-theme with BAKED ZITI and BARRY ZITO. Some wicked/clever clues, such as "They were bound to land" for SERFS, "Pulls out of school?" for REELS IN, "Opt out of the local union?" for ELOPE, "Cuban employee" for MAV, and "Deuce or trey, so to speak," for BASKET. KENT had a Simpsons clue (and got me started in the grid), but HOMER didn't. My favorite entries included A LA MAISON, ONE POTATO, LL COOL J, book LEARNIN', and VOODOO (which forced four crossing entries to end in an O. The Swiss actress IRENE JACOB may be a little on the obscure side (she was in Kieslowski's Red, White, Blue trilogy as well as "The Double Life of Veronique"), but if you do a Google image search, you'll see that she's quite pretty and frequently naked. I believe my solving time was my fastest ever for one of Byron's themelesses—have I finally cracked the code to his puzzles, or did it seem easy to you, too?


Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy, "Break the Bank," has 63 theme squares. That seems like a lot; is it? Kudos for working in OATBRAN instead of merely OAT or BRAN, and for a new (I think) OREO clue: "bicolor bite."

In this weekend's puzzle, "Get a Grip," Merl Reagle tries to put the squeeze on solvers, but it's not too hard to elude his grasp. This one's a classic, pun-riddled Reagle creation. BRAIN TWEEZERS? THE VISE SQUAD? Goofy but good. The puzzle is further enhanced by fill like SCENE TWO, STUTZ and KLUTZ, SEE YOU and ITS ME. I could've done without the second Roman-numeral division problem, though; isn't one of these enough in a single puzzle?

WSJ 9:18
Reagle 7:52
LAT 5:44
NYS 5:34
NYT 5:06
CS 4:01