January 17, 2006

Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m.

I liked the AM+ theme in Gary Steinmehl's Sun puzzle, "The Morning Before," but heavens to Murgatroyd! That top middle section killed me. A something-CALF, something-GOU tea (I should have remembered that one), artist Julian something-IE, and a mysterious "Belgian horticulturist of note"? Eventually I pieced it together, but...ouch. I hadn't heard of Julian OPIE, but check out the link to see his artwork. A BULL CALF is not only a young male of the bovine variety, it's also "a stupid fellow." And here's a nice write-up of CONGOU and other teas. The horticulturist is Louis Augustin Guillaume BOSC, the pear's namesake. (Elsewhere in the puzzle, we have "HEC Ramsey"—for those who have forgotten seeing the name twice in a week last spring, this was a 1970s TV Western starring Richard Boone—and I still say, "Who? What? Huh?")

Sheldon Benardo's NYT is a great example of a Wednesday puzzle (though maybe a tad easier than expected). The DIS+name theme is fun, and at the moment I can't think of any other possibilities for the theme—there aren't any famous people named Turb, Parate, Cern, or Pose, are there? The fill includes a few interesting words, like SCRUM and KNESSET, but the bulk of the puzzle is straightforward words with precious little in the way of compromises. AMINE's rather obscure outside of crosswords, but the grid's filled with words like CLIPS, DARE, EASE, and VAIN—and I'll take those over HEC any day. (OPIE also appears here, but not as "artist Julian." Anyone think "Mayberry moppet" will show up in the LAT or CS puzzle?)

NYS 6:17
LAT 4:30
NYT 3:11
CS 3:03