May 04, 2006

Order is restored to the universe

Surely there will be no carping about the Friday NYT, by Manny Nosowsky? It's themeless, so there are no theme irregularities to trouble anyone. I suppose some might complain that many of the clues require the solver to think sideways, but that's a problem with the solver, not the puzzle. Today's semi-obscure fruit is LOQUATS ("Japanese plums"); who knows what produce tomorrow will bring. I was mighty proud of myself for quickly figuring out that 15 Across, "four times what's left," was THREE SCORE (60 is 4 x 15). That entry was bracketed by two other 10s containing the letter Q (QUINTUPLET, "unexpected birth"; ROMANESQUE, "pre-Gothic style"). All the 10s in this puzzle were great, particularly A RARE BREED, SPORTS PAGE, TINKER TOYS, DIRTY JOKES, and AFTER A SORT. "Eco location" is a devious clue for ITALY. Anyone else plug in MEGA instead of SEED for "start of something big"? The trademark Manny medical entry is LIGATE (do CORPSMEN LIGATE as well as PATCH?). Another recent puzzle clued BEERY in relation to the old actor Wallace Beery; I prefer the hipper "like the bar scene" clue here. In sum, this puzzle's exactly what I'm looking for in a Friday NYT.

In the Sun, David Kahn's "Follow Directions" puzzle works you over in a circuitous fashion. There are four interlocking 15s, each clued with a word in the grid that is paired with a direction word in the grid. E.g., "NCAA hoops conference" clues BIG and EAST together, and BIG is itself the clue for TOM HANKS PICTURE. This beast (and it is a beast because so many of the clues are tough) is intricately constructed: NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, and WEST all appear in the center of the appropriate sides of the grid, and the four 3-letter words that partner with them are placed symmetrically around the center square (shout-out to Paul Lynde!) and parallel to their partner direction entries. I did three or four other David Kahn puzzles this week (in the X-treme X-words book), so it's been a delightfully challenging week.


Martin Ashwood-Smith dresses up the CrosSynergy puzzle ("Dress Code") with FATS WALLER, the SPIDER WOMAN, and SAGITTARIUS in addition to a set of clothes.

I generally dislike quip puzzles, but on occasion they do entertain me. Kudos to the Bruce Venzke/Stella Daily team for bringing these words of wisdom to my attention: "Hard work pays off in the future, but laziness pays off now." Anyone know who's credited with originating this quote?

Cathy Millhauser's Wall Street Journal puzzle, "McJobs," was fun and filled with tasty bits like ATTACK DOG and STRESS OUT. (Okay, so those particular entries don't sound fun. But the puzzle's good...)

In his "Everyday Palindromes" crossword, Merl Reagle serves up 15 delicious little palindromes. Hurrah for palindromes!

NYS 8:12
NYT 6:44
LAT 4:03
CS 2:40

WSJ 7:33
Reagle 7:06