May 11, 2006

Festive Friday

The word of the day is SAW, which shows up as a clue (for CLICHE) in David Quarfoot's NYT and an answer (to "thriller with the tagline, 'Every puzzle has its pieces'") in Patrick Berry's Sun Weekend Warrior. The English language is so well-suited to crossword puzzles because of this richness. An adage, a tool, a creepy movie, past tense of a common verb—saw is all those things.

I did the Berry puzzle right after the Quarfoot, and there was another overlap, sort of. The NYT had EDSEL, and then there was a 5-letter "infamous Ford" in the Sun puzzle—turned out to be PINTO, but I had EDSEL on the brain.

Quarfoot's puzzle contains some PAIRED entries, like OFF/CAMERA and I BEFORE E/EXCEPT AFTER C ("or when sounded as A, as in neighbor and weigh"—hey, that doesn't address either or heist), and the ABCS and RRR. I don't recall ever hearing LAMS used to mean "thrashes," but the dictionary bears that out. I like the parallel construction of FDA APPROVAL and VIP TREATMENT, REDD FOXX, and DOMO ARIGATO (which has bad-Styx-song connotations for my generation). The trickiest clue, for me, was "spoilers, at times" for NANAS.

The highlight of Berry's Weekend Warrior has got to be FAHRVERGNUGEN, which is German for driving pleasure (not to be confused with the knock-off car stickers that say Fukengrüven). The clue "20th-century Christian" for DIOR amused me. EUGLENA took me way back to high-school or junior-high biology. The flagellum! (Who remembers which protozoan was ringed with cilia?)


Quick hits: Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy puzzle has a great theme, executed better than most insert-two-letters themes; Patrick also had a nice triplet of UV RAYS, TV ADS, and OK SIGN. • Patrick Berry's May 5 Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, "Learning by Example," is fun. • As for Ed Early's May 12 CHE ("Absolute Values"), has Lindsay LOHAN ever kept company with references to "Pagliacci," Philip Roth, Kant's philosophy, and the Volsunga saga before? • Great Wall Street Journal puzzle by Patrick Berry, "Name Brands." Of the three Berry puzzles in this post, this one's my favorite. It's a gestalt thing: good theme, good clues, good fill, all swirling together into a great crossword. • Merl Reagle's "Occupational Hazards" included the clue, "great movie for puzzle fans, The Last of ___." The answer is SHEILA, which I never saw; the movie's synopsis is here.

NYS 5:45
NYT 4:38
5/12 CHE 4:05
CS 3:51
5/5 CHE 3:42
LAT 3:40

WSJ 8:04
Reagle 7:43