January 14, 2006


Richard Silvestri cooked up a tough-looking puzzle ("E-Tail") for the Sunday NYT, starting near the upper left with the new entry LENINITE and clues mentioning Livonia and chrism, continuing to the top center with another new entry, HEMIC (which never crops up in my medical editing) crossing INO.* Rich ups the ante on the challenge by sometimes adding the E to the first word of a theme entry and sometimes to the last. (I like PROSE AND CONS and EITHER ORE best.) Ha! I just noticed an Across clue I hadn't read (hi, En!) while filling in the puzzle: "Go from worse to bad?" is a great clue for IMPROVE. (Oddly enough, IMPROVE has a mere three prior appearances in the Cruciverb database, all with straightforward clues.)

*For those of you Googling because you're stuck on these, let me make it easy for you: "Early Russian Communist" = LENINITE, "Modern-day inhabitants of old Livonia" = LATVIANS, "Apply chrism" = ANOINT, "Blood-related" = HEMIC, and "She rescued Odysseus" = INO. (This is my random act of kindness for the day.)


In Henry Hook's LA Weekly puzzle, "Id Est," the theme entries incorporate an extra EST; i.e., TAKING A NAP morphs into TAKING ANAPEST, and who doesn't appreciate wordplay involving literary terms? Henry also tosses in SMALL A ("One of three in Alabama?"), further expanding a category of crossword entries I like (LONG I, LONG O, SILENT H, SOFT C, HARD G).

It's all about the Benjamins: in honor of Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday on January 17, we have Patrick Jordan's homage in the Washington Post and Vic Fleming and Bonnie Gentry's in the LA Times. There's a particularly clever clue in Vic and Bonnie's puzzle: "Browning gadget" had me thinking of rifles rather than TOASTER.

Rich Norris's CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge had a number of interesting longer entries—the new IM KIDDING and HOTFOOT IT, for example—but I'd argue that APNEAL isn't a word. Not only is it missing from my Stedman's Medical Dictionary, but it garners a mere 811 Google hits. ("Apneic" is the accepted adjectival form of "apnea.") What's more: I haven't bought a copy of the Random House Unabridged Dictionary yet, but apparently "apneal" is listed there ahead of "apneic." Can't blame a non-medical person for believing the big ol' dictionary of choice for crossword folks, but I've got a bone to pick with the RHUD for making things up. Their lexicographers should know better than to do that!

LAT 9:22
LAW Hook 9:12
NYT 8:56
WaPo 7:35
CS 4:10