April 01, 2006


Bob Klahn seems to specialize in late-week difficulty, so it's a treat to see his byline on a Sunday NYT. Of course, he brought along plenty of that difficulty, making the treat even better (unless you're too stymied to enjoy it). "Take Five" means, of course, that a V (Roman numeral 5) has been removed to make each theme entry, like ENDING MACHINE for "Guillotine?" Clever cluing, like "Mistress of the spirit world?" for ALEWIFE, "Was an Orly arrival?" for FLEW IN, "Ring count" for ONE TO TEN,
"Lose track?" for DERAIL, "Frost lines" for POEM, and "Hustler’s hangout?" for DISCO. Zippy fill, like ILL TELL, CODE RED, MA AND PA, and MEECE (as a goofy plural of "mouse"). I'm always pleased to wield the remnants of my German language knowledge, as in "When Schweine fly!" (NIE means "never"). And I knew that people speak Catalan in ANDORRA because I'd just seen a similar clue today in Peter Gordon's new book. I actually would've been about a minute faster if not for a typo ("tenuous" is not SHALY, of course, but SHAKY, which I should have picked up on quickly instead of assuming that LASHMIRI was a word. D'oh.)

Updated: The Puzzle Brothers Dave and Bob Mackey have today's LA Times puzzle, "OO-EE," where OO is changed to EE to make theme entries like NEEDLE CASSEROLE and SNEEZE ALARM. Plenty of fresh longer entries, like MGM LION, SAD EYES, NY GIANTS, and ALIEN RACE. (Interestingly, that LION crosses LAMBS, but two days into April rather than at the beginning or end of March.) I got snagged by the crossing of BILBO (clued as the arguably obscure "old-time alternative to ankle chains"—ouch!—rather than, say, "hobbit who turned eleventy-one") and RBS. (Somebody want to give me a list of all the football positions and their abbreviations?)

Timothy Powell's Washington Post puzzle, "Scrambled Headlines," provides a little anagram action for the morning. • Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon strew body parts all over their LA Weekly grid. • Mel Rosen's Newsday puzzle features songs with birds in the title.

Bob Klahn also puts in themeless time today, with the CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge. Tons of snappy multiword phrases in the long entries, plus one obscure old word apparently derived from Anglo-Saxon (SNATH, a scythe handle),

NYT 10:22
LAT 9:02
LA Weekly 7:57
Newsday 7:28
WaPo 7:05
CS 6:41