September 02, 2005

The Saturday NYT by Bob Peoples—what can I say? I felt like a beginner trying to decipher the language and methods of crossword puzzles for the first time. My mystery entries were OTOMIS and EXIM. And TUBBS. And my mystery clues? Oh, so many. I'm just glad I read PAULA Danziger's youth fiction when I was a kid; that and ALDOUS were practically my only gimmes. After 30 minutes, only six people have posted times on the applet; but look, there's Byron Walden making everyone else look bad by finishing in a ridiculous 7:08.

To salvage your ego, you could coast through the LA Weekly puzzle by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, "Self-Denial." The hard part for me was identifying the theme. Between the title and the theme entries, YOURS and TRULY = "what this puzzle's grid is missing," I eventually noticed what I had failed to detect while I did the puzzle, namely that a word I have used four times in this sentence doesn't show up anywhere in the grid. A feat of construction, to be sure—but is the coolness of that feat lessened or heightened by the fact that the puzzle could be completed without noticing it?

For another breather, head over to the Saturday LAT themeless by Vic Fleming. The cluing is much more accessible than what Bob Peoples and Will Shortz hurled at us tonight. Thank you for causing no pain, Vic!

Updated with two more:

This morning, I warmed up with Harvey Estes' light CrosSynergy puzzle, then moved on to the Newsday Saturday Stumper by Stan Newman. The Stumper was one of the toughest in recent memory—most weeks, it might have qualified as the week's hardest puzzle—but it was still more pliable than the Peoples NYT. (Victory to the Peoples!)

NYT 13:43
Newsday 10:55
LAW 7:27
LAT 4:28
CS 3:02