September 07, 2006

Friday the 8th

NYS 6:57 (sort of)
NYT 5:59
LAT 4:06
CS 4:00

WSJ 8:39
Reagle 6:56

I liked David Bunker's themeless NYT puzzle, and found Patrick Blindauer's Sun puzzle to be a challenge (and also liked it).

Hey, does anyone know why the Chronicle of Higher Education crosswords haven't been available online since August 11? I always feel frightfully clever when I polish off one of the CHE puzzles, so I've been missing them.

The NYT crossword boasts plenty of high-Scrabble-count letters—two per entry, a few times (SQUARE JAW up top, EQUINOXES and ZINC OXIDE at the base). The clues I liked best included [It's frustrating not to get it] for PUNCHLINE, [Stretch for the stars?] for LIMO, [Mars to mars, e.g.] for ANNÉE, [Season openers?] (why the question mark?) for EQUINOXES, and [Were running mates] for ELOPED. I wasn't familiar with CAIRNED as an adjective, but Google shows that hikers mark trails with stone cairns and use the word. Here's a picture of the [Soldier armed with a spear], PIKEMAN, and here is DALI's Lobster Telephone is here (what's the difference between art and schlock?). I did get messed up for a while by the [Cryptozoological topic], plugging in SETI instead of YETI, which completely mucked up the formation of MY LAI.

First up for Patrick Bl.'s Sun puzzle ("Not for Cardinal Fans"), confession time. I stopped the timer when I filled in the grid, and figured Across Lite just didn't like the way I'd entered the rebus entries. No, that was just fine—it was having SCANS instead of SPANS for [Goes over] that was the hitch. (I've never heard of the Mets player Todd PRATT, so for all I knew, he was CRATT...) Anyhoo, Patrick plants five ordinal (not cardinal) numbers into the grid rebus-style, with FIRST, THIRD, and FIFTH placed in long entries and SECOND and FOURTH in short entries near the NE and SW corners of the grid. Good to see BABKA with a "Seinfeld" clue ("Cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka!") and Weird Al Yankovic's EAT IT—it's always nice to be rewarded for pop-culture consumption. Thanks, Patrick!


In Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle, the extra-long clue at 22-Across reads [Paul's crossword credo? (Note: To mark Paul's turning 64 this year, every theme answer in this puzzle is a Beatle song on which Paul sang lead)]. Somehow, Merl included two songs I don't recognize (!). Try not to sing or hum too much while you're doing the puzzle, eh?

Harvey Estes tries something "Somewhat Different" in his fun Wall Street Journal crossword. Looking back over the completed puzzle, I really like the set of theme entries. Elsewhere in the grid, Harvey includes the Mexican city, JALAPA, which I had never heard of; turns out it's also spelled Xalapa, and jalapeño peppers get their name from Jalapa.

I enjoyed the theme in Manny Nosowsky's LA Times puzzle. Presumably most of his solvers won't have already done his April 21 NYT, and they'll delight in the [Refrain from piracy?] clue. Those who have already seen it will find it much easier to figure out the second time!

Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy puzzle has an unusual sort of theme I don't recall seeing before.