August 17, 2006


NYS 8:29
NYT 5:38
LAT 5:23
8/4 CHE 4:26
CS 3:06

WSJ 9:34
Reagle 8:36

Karen Tracey's Weekend Warrior posed a meaty challenge. I only got one of the long entries (two pairs of 15's crossed by a vertical 13) without a fight, and many of the clues for shorter answers left me agape in dimness. "Greek 'the'" was a total mystery until the crossings revealed it to be HOI, as in hoi polloi (d'oh). "First of all" called for a noun (ADAM), which isn't where my brain was heading. Did I know DECONTROL was a verb? I'm not sure I did. And "Toad in the hole, e.g." is a PUB GAME but also the name for a couple food dishes. No shortage of challenging clues in this puzzle, that's for sure. How do you know when you've done too many crossword puzzles? When you see a clue like "Castle with many steps" and instantly think, "Do I need five or six letters? It's either Irene or her husband VERNON." I'm usually delighted to be stymied by a good crossword, and this one took me twice as long as some themeless puzzles (like the CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge, most weeks—hey, esteemed CrosSynergy people, how about toughening up those Sunday clues?). Dee-licious!

Joe DiPietro's NYT puzzle has a theme, A HOUSE DIVIDED: in the other theme entries, a type of house embedded within a phrase is divided among the words in the phrase; e.g., WASH ASHORE. Now, the fill includes SOOPA ("Tiptop, in hip-hop"), and that spelling is not given in the online Urban Dictionary; there is, however, a Wikipedia article about a rap group that uses the word, but the article has the most erratic spelling and grammar I've ever seen in a Wikipedia entry. That's neither here nor there. Joe's puzzle also includes a lot of phrases that Jangler probably won't like, and I'm not sure how I feel about entries like HATED TO GO and ON LOOKOUT. I do like TAKE THAT, though, and don't recall knowing that RAVIOLI (yum!) meant "'little turnips' literally."


Cute theme in Timothy Powell's LA Times puzzle. I couldn't help noticing other words in the fill that seemed to have lost their first letter—ATE LESS from DATELESS, ALLOTS for BALLOTS, and plenty of shorter words. Did you know that TAI is also a Japanese food fish? Called the tai snapper, it's actually a type of sea bream.

Jack McInturff's Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle from August 4 is educational, as the CHE crossword often is.

Today's Wall Street Journal puzzle, "Stressed Out," comes from Jeffrey Harris and Todd McClary. It took me a while to realize that the theme entries didn't entail spelling changes, but rather, altered pronunciation of the base phrases with the stress put on a different syllable. Top-notch puzzle, with fantastic fill and cluing.

The highlight of Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle, "Oxymoronically Speaking," is the central trio, SERIOUSLY/YOU NEED TO/LIGHTEN UP.