September 23, 2005


Ah, so the NYS Weekend Warrior was really just practice to ease everyone into the process of wrestling with Byron Walden's Saturday NYT, which took me about 65% longer than the NYS puzzle. Byron seems to relish including obscure scientific names and terms in his Saturday puzzles; SELENIC certainly fits in that category. Plenty of curveballs, like tacking on the state's abbreviation after the college town's name in 4D, or getting you to think of male models' names rather than GQ TYPE. I think more of the challenge rested in deciphering really fairly straightforward clues for oddball entries (e.g., BAD PASTS), rather than in making sense out of really wicked clues. Although I concede that there certainly were plenty of clues that tended to lead solvers down the wrong path—like "blow up" for GET ANGRY (no enlargements here) or "didn't shuffle" for STRODE (didja start out by filling in -ED at the end of that one?). Not to mention clever clues like "Nice cop" for GENDARME, and "Looking for big bucks?" for IN HEAT. Of the 62 entries, only eight of them had 3 letters. Great job, Byron and Will!


Joe DiPietro's LAT has a few entries that have got to be brand-new—AT THE MET, LAST MAY, and I CANT GO NOW. Others that don't appear in the Cruciverb database are IRON CITY, GET A LOAD OF, and CAR KEYS. The clues shoot for the same exalted level as the fill: "Sugary and spicy, maybe" for GIRLISH, "Brown is one" for IVY, "Initial representation?" for MIDDLE NAME, "Putting letters in boxes?" for SOLVING (ha!), and "Tough-sounding yarn?" for CREWEL (groan).

Henry Hook's LA Weekly puzzle, "Purrfection," offers up a cat-related quip from Garrison Keillor. THESPIS ("Father of Greek tragedy"), PATCO, HOOHA, HOPS TO IT are among the interesting answers. My favorite clues include "Moo goo gai pan pain" for WOK, "Bow almost to the floor?" for SHOELACE, and "Mezza dozzina" for SEI. Best clue/entry combo: "His career 'tanked' in 1988" for MIKE DUKAKIS (extra bonus for three K's not even needed for crossing theme entries).

WaPo 10:12
LAW/BG 9:41
NYT 8:59
LAT 6:08
Stumper 4:34
CS 3:38