June 08, 2006


Manny Nosowsky's NYT whomped me with a tricky crossing that really shouldn't have been tricky—the spot where the Latin TEMPORE crosses LIRE, "Bygone coins." I finally looked up what I should have learned years ago: The current Turkish and Maltese currency is the lira, which was also the currency of Italy, San Marino, and Vatican City before the euro came along; the plural of lira is lire or liras. There. Now that I've written it down, I'll never forget it. But anyone else who has been troubled by this, feel free to disregard this lesson. Great puzzle-solving experience, apart from that minute and a half I spent looking for that LIRA/LIRE error. THAT'S OK. Lire/lira has just been my BUGBEAR. But ALLELUIA! I've got it down now and need not BLEAT about it. No SWEAT ("Worry beads?"). I don't know if LESS FAT and DONUT belong in the same puzzle—call me OLD-FASHIONED. And ONE MORE THING: if I had an OUNCE OF SENSE, I wouldn't have felt like a C STUDENT with this puzzle. Manny's medical clue of the week is "Spot for a shot" for ARM. I learned that the ABC Powers that negotiated between the US and Mexico in 1914 were Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. The grid's nifty, too—a pinwheel centered on stacked 12- and 15-letter entries.

Another great Sun themeless from Karen Tracey. Two 15's crossed by a Scrabbly 13 (DOCTOR ZHIVAGO), surrounded by HANS BLIX and YITZHAK Rabin, HARRUMPH and ZOOKS, RASSLE and HOPS TO, LOCOWEED and TV ROOM. Sorry I don't have anything insightful to say about Karen's puzzle, other than that I liked it a lot—it's been a long week and my mind is resting now.

The July issue of Esquire arrived in the mail today. For the first time ever, a page in a major magazine (not counting Games) mentioned four people I've met: Will Shortz, Patrick Creadon, Merl Reagle, and Morgan Spurlock. And Wordplay gets a nice plug:

A Puzzle Piece
"An amiable portrait of New York Times crossword-puzzle editor Will Shortz, Wordplay follows the template established by little-doc-that-could Spellbound—endearing eccentrics, competitive climax. It's every bit as charming, to, even if director Patrick Creadon spends too much time on crossword-loving celebs like Jon Stewart. You'll wish for more of ace puzzle constructor Merl Reagle, a bearish dude given to such offhand, anagrammatic observations as...well, solve the puzzle below to find out."

The puzzle is an acrostic by Mike D'Angelo: "While driving around his neighborhood, puzzle master Merl Reagle spots a sign and observes..." [solve the acrostic or fill in my favorite Merl quote in Wordplay from memory].


If you like puns, you're in luck today: Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle, Joy Andrews' Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, and Donna S. Levin's LA Times puzzle all have pun-based themes.

NYT 6:17
NYS 5:06
LAT 4:24
6/9 CHE 4:23
CS 2:58

Reagle 9:10
WSJ [untimed]