February 09, 2006

I love Fridays

Valentine's Day is coming up next Tuesday, so why not celebrate early with Henry Hook's Sun cardiac-themed puzzle, "Without Missing a Beat"? This puzzle duped me into thinking it contained a [HEART] rebus in 1-Down, rather than a deleted [HEAR], and this definitely slowed me down. A lot. Eventually, I pieced it together, with the help of TOILEINING and the obvious removal of [TTRA]. Between the challenging clues (or were they challenging? maybe it was just the tricky gimmick) and the innovative [HEAR][TTRA][NSPL][ANTS] mechanism, this was a deliciously knotty puzzle. (Peter Gordon, can you get Henry to pony up some more killers for us? To paraphrase cheesy valentines, the two of you make beautiful music together.) For those of you who got bogged down at the crossing of "Quintana ___" (it's ROO, not RIO) and "Piece of baloney?" (CROCK), here's the Wikipedia entry on the Mexican state of Quintana Roo (constructors, check out the list of other Mexican states at the end of that page); some of the college kids there are attending the cutely monikered UQRoo.

Harvey Estes is back in the NYT, just three weeks after his previous Friday puzzle (the one with the complete sentence in the triple stack—AL AND TIPPER GORE/CAME TO THE RESCUE/ONE WAY OR ANOTHER). This time, it's a 70-worder with two triple stacks and a central 15 bound together by two vertical 15's. (Is it just me, or does assembling a construction like that seem like a formidable task?) For me, the highlights of Harvey's puzzles are the clues. Now, it may well be that Will Shortz is responsible for these ones, but they sound Harveyesque to me: "Light show?" for SITUATION COMEDY, "Bit of shrink rap?" for I SEE, "Rest of the afternoon" for SIESTA, "Casual states?" for SEZ, "Match maker?" for SETS, and "Hogan's hero?" for CROCODILE DUNDEE.


Patrick Berry's WSJ puzzle, "Latinized Names," is the first to take advantage of hip cluing for ENNIS ("Heath's 'Brokeback Mountain' role"). It's just a tad fresher than "bandleader Skinnay" (who?), "1940's-50's Phillies star Del" (who?), "Texas town" (where?), or "capital of County Clare" (you don't say). Cute theme, if a little groan-inducing.

Speaking of groan-inducing, then there's Merl Reagle's "Horsing Around" puzzle from the Philadelphia Inquirer. MUZZLE TOV! (Oy.)

NYS 14:30 (ouch)
NYT 5:17
LAT 5:30
1/27 CHE 4:54
CS 3:33

WSJ 9:03
Reagle (oops—forgot to start the timer)