July 14, 2006


Newsday 6:30
NYT 5:35
LAT 4:34
CS 3:32
and also Byron Walden's NYT diagramless

Swish! Patrick Berry's NYT puzzle hits nothing but net with just 56 words, a wide-open white-space extravaganza packed with common letters, but not-so-common clues. The toughest clue, for me, was "Two-seaters or four-seaters, e.g.?" for MAITRE DS, and I really should have grasped that "Life at a grocery store" was the CEREAL and not the magazine. My favorite section of this puzzle isn't the quadrant with the Q and J in it—it's the corner where APOLOGIA, WATERLOO, and LITERATI are stacked up, all ending in atypical vowels crossing TAOIST (which, for all I knew, could have been MAOIST—turns out Chuang-tzu was a Chinese philosopher about 2,500 years ago). Is it just me, or do you agree that the REDSTART's breast and tail (avian T&A?) is more orange than red? (I say the robin's "red breast" is orange, too, and ketchup is red-orange. Who's with me?) I know all about France's Cesar film awards and Britain's BAFTAs, but how many Americans know the Canadians have the GENIES? AQUAVIT can be flavored with caraway, or dill (blech), or fennel (yecch), or grains of paradise (huh?) Chaucer's SUMMONER's Tale includes mention of friars flying out of Satan's arse. (The Farrelly brothers have got nothing on Chaucer.) I ventured into Google to look for a picture of a Prince ALBERT frock coat, but came across the Wikipedia entry on the NSFW Prince Albert piercing (hint: it's not in the can).

Merle Baker's Newsday Saturday Stumper took a little longer than the Berry puzzle. There are some great entries (GO AWRY, the verb pair SHINNY and JIMMY, and "something on one's agenda," AX TO GRIND), some obscure ones (Ethiopia's Lake TANA, ARCTICS as "waterproof overshoes"), and the acquired-taste RR STA.

Cute theme in Raymond Hamel's CrosSynergy creation, "One for All."

Barry Silk, who just had last Saturday's NYT, has today's LA Times themeless. It's on the easy side as themeless puzzles go, but I liked it. My eyes tricked me into thinking the clue for TITO was "20th-century Ethiopian leader for over 30 years," but no. I see now it says European; yes, that makes much more sense! That's just one of about a dozen geography-related entries; YO-YO MA is tied to the Silk Road, ICE is clued as "Cap material?" and Sweden, France, Israel, Germany, the Adriatic, South Africa, the Philippines, Hawaii, and ARABIA all get their due.

This weekend's NYT second Sunday puzzle is a diagramless crossword by Byron Walden. I printed the blank grid out and solved it (great clues, interesting fill)—and later looked at it in Across Lite with the black squares added in, the better to appreciate the visual oomph of the pattern.