January 04, 2006


Brilliant Thursday Sun puzzle ("One Step at a Time") by Pete Muller, featuring a vertical WORD LADDER along with four rebus squares containing the steps in a word ladder (in which one letter at a time is changed, yielding a new word). Even the symmetrical locations of the rebus squares didn't speed things up much for me, and the NE corner slaughtered me. I should have jettisoned PYREX (which I had in place of SILEX) much sooner, since 8A appeared to be AMOEBAS and not something ending with a P. It didn't help that I'd never heard of Green Day's drummer, TRE COOL. But I'm most disappointed in myself for failing to get the LAVE rung despite having watched "[LAVE]RNE and Shirley" for years. Speaking of Green Day, have you ever encountered the color "mermaid," which purportedly is similar to SAGE GREEN? (Peter Gordon claims it's supported by his dictionary, which has provided him with oddball color clues in the past.) This puzzle has a number of not-in-Cruciverb entries: A CAPPELLA and DOULA, in addition to TRE COOL and SAGE GREEN. Well done, if vexing.

The timed applet wouldn't load Vic Fleming's NYT for me, so I defected to Across Lite. (Grr.) Anyway...the puzzle features a classic Oscar Wilde quote that breaks down nicely into 15/12/15-letter chunks, supplemented by the author's first and last names at the beginning and end of the puzzle. Favorite clue: "Banks on a runway" for TYRA. Edited after reading Lee's comment: D'oh! Okay, so it didn't break down into 15/12/15, it was 16/12/16. Eh, who counts?)


Unless I miscounted, David Kahn packed 82 theme squares into the LA Times puzzle. I've seen a similar theme at least once before, but I daresay previous versions of this theme weren't as elegantly executed or as thorough. I won't add any spoilers because I know some of you don't normally do the LAT puzzle—you should do this one.

Raymond Hamel's CrosSynergy puzzle has two corners of nice 8-letter entries.

NYS 8:33 (nope, no typo there)
NYT 4:45
LAT 3:38
CS 3:07