January 03, 2006


If you haven't done Ben Tausig's "Subscription Descriptions" yet, consider going to the Voice website and solving online or downloading the Word version—the Across Lite version posted this afternoon appears not to be the final one. Never mind—I hear the AL file's been replaced.

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Sun puzzle, "Put a Finger on It," pays homage to the QWERTY keyboard and demonstrates the most straightforward manner of accomplishing a pangrammatic crossword. (Though it must've been tricky to arrange the fill around something like ZXCVBNM.) The clues I liked best were "Dead waters?" for STYX, "Shuffle, e.g." for IPOD, and "Moving direction?" for SHOO. This puzzle also marks the second day in a row of Sun puzzles containing TIP JAR. Yesterday, new and exciting; today, old hat.

John "Popeye" Minarcik and Nancy Salomon's TALE OF TWO CITIES theme occupies an impressive 60 squares of the Wednesday NYT. It's one of those themes that makes the solver rely heavily on the crossings, so it ups the challenge a bit. I'm a little disappointed, though—I'd have hoped that pathologist Popeye would have tied OOZE and ITCH together in a clinically relevant fashion, and maybe found a way to work a PUSTULE or LESION into the grid somewhere.

Returning to the Tausig puzzle—in addition to some seldom-seen entries like KVETCHES and METS FAN, Ben's got the great clue, "Went platinum, perhaps, but probably not gold" (for DYED).

Looking ahead to the rest of this week's Sun puzzles, I will say that the Thursday puzzle killed me (particularly the NE corner), but Byron Walden's excellent Weekend Warrior did not, even though it's rumored to be leaving solvers feeling battered.

NYS 4:45
NYT 4:19 (Would you believe I typed a bracket and a 3 in this grid? I just could not type tonight! I blame the Sun puzzle for jinxing my keyboard.)
Tausig 3:57
LAT 3:53
CS 2:50