January 16, 2006

Monday ennui

Sarah Keller's letter-change puzzle in the NYT provides both NUT N HONEY and NITPICKER, which lead me to offer a minor cereal-related nit about the clue for OAT BRAN, "healthful cereal grain." Bran is strictly the fibrous outer layer of a grain, and not the grain itself, isn't it? In any event, I liked the grid because of all the non-theme 7- and 8-letter entries; early-week puzzles are typically more stingy with longish entries.

The "Lila Cherry" (really Rich Norris) LA Times puzzle had a cute basketball-position theme. Seeing TACO clued as "snack in a shell" here (or, in many other puzzles, "Sonora snack," "Tex-Mex snack," "Mexican munchie," etc.) makes me ask: How many of you eat tacos as a snack, and how many consider them a meal? Cheetos are a snack; tacos are lunch. (Yes, some crosswords have clued TACO as "salsa-topped entrée" or "meal in a shell"—but the snack/munchie clues appear to predominate.)

Hey, look at that: Jeffrey (Jangler) Harris's "Play Things" puzzle in the Sun includes TACOS, too. Good clue for it: "Tostada relatives." The PUCK/BALL/BIRDIE theme didn't excite me terribly, but I liked the seldom-seen entries such as GET BACK and the fun WACKOS and DIMWIT.

Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy puzzle, "To-Do Items," may be John ASHCROFT's cruciverbal debut. Now, I don't mind seeing Janet RENO pop up in crosswords, but I could do without Ashcroft, even if he does have an impressive 8 letters in his name.

NYS 3:40
LAT 3:14
NYT 2:56
CS 2:49