September 16, 2006

Sunday, 9/17

NYT 11:52
WaPo 10:30
LAT 8:52
BG 7:54
CS 5:23

What Brendan Emmett Quigley does and does not do with his Sunday NYT crossword, "Missing Persons": challenge and delight on the one hand, and disappoint and cut us some slack on the other hand. (If you haven't done it yet and you usually do it online, you might consider solving this one on paper.) The puzzle was a good 20% to 30% harder than most, owing to the BEQ/Shortz cluing, the interesting BEQ fill, and the polished theme. Me, I can't think of a single alternate for any of the theme entries—can you? As for that theme, I bet it's a little easier to find the pertinent [Missing from __-Down] clues on a hard copy, where you can scan all the clues at a glance. For me, the hardest theme entry to parse was BATTLE OF BIN; eventually I found the [Missing from 37-Across] clue, worked that section, found RITA, and saw that she'd been extracted from B[RITA]IN. Actually, TOGA SPRINGS confused me, too, until I found the SARA that precedes it. The others, of course, are MY FAVORITE MART[IAN], BOT[TOM] OF THE BARREL, C[ANNE]D LAUGHTER, LISTENS TO AD[VIC]E, (my personal favorite) THE S[CARL]ET LETTER, and BATTING A[VERA]GE. It was nice to have that gimme with [Memory trace], wasn't it? After ENGRAM stumped so many people on Tuesday, we now see that Will was just giving us all a leg up on the Sunday puzzle. Favorite fill and clues included [Flipper?] for SPATULA (would've been easier without the question mark), PIZARRO, SPENGLER, IT'S A SIGN, IRON-ONS, RAZOR-SHARP, and [Little sucker] for MINIVAC. The obscure (to me, anyway) name of the day is Jack NARZ, a game show host from the days of quiz show scandals. A Sunday puzzle sprinkled with Friday/Saturday toughness is just the thing to follow a Saturday puzzle blessed with a Thursday-style rebus, isn't it?