August 08, 2006


NYS 4:25
LAT 4:25
CS 4:09
Tausig 4:06
NYT 3:37

All right, I'll be giving short shrift to Wednesday's puzzles because I'm short on time. Anyone ever have the NYT applet go partway crazy on them and hide the numbers in the grid within whatever entry's space you click on? The numbers do come back, but it's a pesky little bug, that.

Maxwell H.D. Johnson Jr.'s NYT puzzle is solid with its five theme entries. But I couldn't help trying to find noted cinematic BATON WIELDER Ellen Ripstein in the grid. (She's not there, alas.)

Patrick Blindauer's Sun puzzle, "Aw, Shucks," converts the "ah" sound to "aw" in the themers. It took plenty of talking in my head to sound them out. (Patrick, was the inspiration just random sound change, or do you know someone who talks like this?) My progress was impeded by deciding that ED**** had to be ED AMES rather than ED WYNN—d'oh...

Both of these puzzles had a dental twist—Patrick included DENTIST ("One who might get to the root of the problem?") and the NYT puzzle had ENAMEL ("Plaque collector?"). Given how common dental anxiety is, perhaps it's wise for the clues to be playful?


Lynn Lempel pops up again with today's LA Times puzzle. The theme is fairly straightforward—five phrases/words that end with different spellings of the "urd" sound. The fill's good and the theme works, but it's Lynn's clue-writing that makes me a regular customer.

In Ben Tausig's Chicago Reader puzzle, "All That and a Bag of Chips," he contrives punny definitions for sandwich names, such as "Backup point guard?" for SIX FOOT SUB. Good fill and clues, including ZEITGEIST, "One who stops at first base" for PRUDE, MUBARAK (rather than the more common entry HOSNI), and "Can't touch this" for THIRD RAIL.

Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy puzzle has a quip and, sandwiched between two rows of theme entries, the name Robert COOTE. "Who?" I asked myself. "Is this someone I should know?" Turns out he was in a lot of old movies I never saw and appears in crosswords about once every five years. He thus rates a half-assed inclusion in my memory banks.