June 15, 2006


Alan Olschwang's NYT is a work of art. A triple stack of 15-letter entries in the middle, two more 15's spanning the top and bottom of the grid, and a vertical 15 crossing the other five 15's. If that weren't enough, the triple stack is also joined to the other horizontal 15's by six 8- and 9-letter entries (including ORTHODOXY and BOOMERANG). Some of the 15's are great, too—particularly ON THE RAZOR'S EDGE and CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR. I have a nougat-based nit about my favorite candy bar, formerly called MARS BARS; in 2000, the American Mars Bar was renamed the Snickers Almond, and what's sold in other countries under that name equates to our Milky Way bar (no delicious almonds). I wasn't hip to DOG ROSES. HE HE is clued "Schemer's syllables"; presumably it's meant to be pronounced "heh heh," but far too many people use it in lieu of "hee hee" in online writing (I deplore it). IUD has only two appearances in the Cruciverb database, both from the NYT; I'm surprised it's not used more often. Yesterday's OXPECKER is followed up by today's SPERM whale; if only the IUD and SPERM clues had referenced each other ("It keeps 22-Across from attaining its goal").

David Liben-Nowell's Friday Sun puzzle, "Not So Sharp," knocked me down because I have no musical training beyond whacking the xylophone and triangle in grade-school music class. The presence of only three squares for the answer to "Recently" tipped me off that it was a rebus puzzle (O[F LAT]E, and eventually I figured out that all the rebus squares held [FLAT]. But I don't know the order and name of ALL THE BLACK KEYS on a piano, and the central 15 was an utter mystery to me—the something MAJOR SCALE? The crossing clues happened to be tricky, too—"Red head?" for INFRA, "Diamond trade overseer?" for SELIG, "Small note" for ONE, "Didn't carry properly, perhaps" for MISADDED, "Pound of flesh?" for THROB, "One-year prison term, in slang" for ACE. I suppose those of you who do understand musical nomenclature didn't find this crossword so challenging?


I liked the other three 15x15's I did—Annemarie Brethauer's June 16 Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, "Add Litteram" (great theme, literate fill and clues) Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Hit Parade," and Jack McInturff's LA Times puzzle.

Great Wall Street Journal puzzle from Patrick Berry—the theme has to do with Rev. Spooner. Merl Reagle's punfest was also fun.

NYS 9:34
NYT 5:55
CS 4:36
6/16 CHE 4:11
LAT 3:45

Reagle 8:14
WSJ [untimed]