August 25, 2006


NYT 8:02
Newsday [untimed, but it seemed fast]
LAT 4:11
CS 3:56

Just got back from the They Might Be Giants concert at the Lincoln Park Zoo. I don't believe they played "Can You Find It," the song about the hidden H that's used in the Wordplay soundtrack. We lucked out in that the thunderstorms that threatened never materialized, but it was a mighty muggy evening—can you say a dewpoint of 72°? Tyler Hinman can back me up on that—he was somewhere in the crowd as well.

So, my story is that my brain was too sodden by (a) the humidity, (b) a long day, and (c) Sam Adams to find Henry Hook's wavelength on the Saturday NYT. I made so many wrong turns in this puzzle, it was hard to dig my way out of the mess. Specifically, who knew that "Japan's largest lake" was BIWA? (Wikipedia says it's also the world's third oldest lake, after Baikal and Tanganyika.) HOTEL MAN felt odd, but check out what hotels offered before the "Hotel Man of the Half Century" revolutionized things. There were a few traps that solvers could fall into: "Long-running TV show featuring match-makers" is CONCENTRATION, but The Dating Game has just as many letters. And "Going around and around" is SWIRLY, but SPIRAL shares three letters. I'm so sleepy that it took me a while to figure out how MOUSSE is "Lock holder?" (Mousse holds a hairstyle.) You know what was kinda neat? STRESS TESTS is one of those entries that has shown up too much in the bottom row of crosswords, since its letters are all commonly found at the end of English words. In this puzzle, Henry plunked the entry right at 1-Across, and saved the bottom row for TEXAS HOLD'EM and its less common ending letters. (Grr for the poker clue that eluded me—"Activity during which the blinds are never lowered.") Okay, I'm falling asleep here—