October 19, 2005

If I had to come up with more 12- to 13-letter theme entries containing IFI (and following the same pronunciation) for Manny Nosowsky's Thursday NYT, I don't think I'd be able to. I especially liked SOFT MUSIC clued as "romantic notes" (took me a while to realize it wasn't about love letters), EQUALIZER, and the geography vibe of Quai D'ORSAY, TAMILS, Finger LAKES, MIAMIAN, and OSTEND. But where's the trademark medical terminology? (I miss it.) The entry FACE WEST was maybe a little iffy. And then there were the two related crude slang terms lurking near each other in the puzzle (clued innocuously, of course)—not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just a wee bit surprising.

I figured out the TIPTOP rebus in Jay Leatherman's NYS puzzle fairly quickly, with the Z in 2D's ZANE pointing toward ZZTOP in 1A. The rebus made for some cute pairings: ZZTOP and TIPSY, plus TIP O'NEILL and CARROT TOP (who may well never have been mentioned in the same breath before; you know, I once rode in a hotel elevator with Carrot Top, but I never met Tip O'Neill). This puzzle had a lot of oddball rarities, like ZARF and EFFENDI, along with oddball longer entries like RAILWAY CAR, PLANT A TREE, and GINGER NUT.


Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Six World Leaders," had a nice flow to it. Over in the LA Times, I liked Alan Olschwang's theme idea (entries ending in muscles, e.g. LATS, ABS) better than the execution, maybe because the first theme entry, TAXI SQUADS, was a football term that was unfamiliar to me. And then there was F SCOTT clued as "contemporary of Stephen Vincent" rather with Zelda or Fitzgerald or Jay Gatsby; wha?

If you don't share my distaste for crapplets (my preferred term for the various non-NYT solving applets), try Crossword Fiend regular Dave Mackey's quip puzzle in today's USA Today.

NYS 5:32
LAT 4:46
NYT 4:15
CS 3:22