October 16, 2006

Tuesday, 10/17

Onion 4:53
CS 4:30
NYS 4:26
Tausig 3:47
LAT 3:03
NYT 2:39

First up, a theme-creation contest challenge. The title of Merl Reagle's latest Sunday puzzle was "Snacks on a Plane." Lee Glickstein suspects there's at least one puzzle in the works with the fill SNACKS ON A PLANE (14), clued something like [Peanuts and pretzels, perhaps?]. The contest is to come up with a matching 14-letter entry and clue. What's the theme scheme? That's up to you. Extra acclaim for a whole set of theme entries and clues. (The prize? Uh, modest bragging rights. I'm fresh out of extra puzzle books these days.) So if you're clever enough to think of a direction to take that theme, jot it down in the comments.

Moving right along to Tuesday's puzzles, Alan Arbesfeld's NYT features a theme that...has six entries, none of them hard to figure out. With six theme entries each containing an X, plus some modestly Scrabbly names like ZORA Neale Hurston (author of one of my favorite novels), and XENA and KEANU (I do enjoy pop culture), I suppose we have to make allowances for old crossword stalwarts like ATKA, EERO, YSER, ITER, and ATRI (and it's not as if the stalwarts slow down a solver who learned those words years ago).

The Sun puzzle by Jack McInturff, "T for Tuesday," slowed me down much more. I'm not sure why. Did you find this one to be significantly tougher than the NYT? Must be the clues. Interestingly, all of the theme entries tack a T onto the beginning of a phrase that starts with a B, so something like T-TOP-NOTCH wouldn't fit the theme so well. T-BOZ SCAGGS could've worked, though it involves names rather than nouns.


Either Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy puzzle is more challenging than one would expect on a Tuesday (and when the byline says Klahn, that's often the case), or I just couldn't tune into the right wavelength.

Today's LA Times puzzle (with six entries in a basic type of theme) is by David Levinson Wilk, whose Really Clever Crosswords book lives in my car, along with Rich Norris's A-to-Z Crosswords (lots of themelesses), to fill the time when my son's in after-school activities. Yesterday afternoon, I left both puzzle books in the car and instead read Ken Jennings' Brainiac, in which I was startled to find a couple typos. But it's entertaining and moves fast.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "The Brew Crew," puts a cold one at the end of three of the theme entries and at the beginning of the fourth one.

This week's Onion AV Club crossword is Matt Jones's "The World's Worst Scratch 'n Sniff Collection." What put an unpleasant smell in my nose was a deadly crossing of two cartoon characters I didn't know—one from a show that aired on Saturday mornings while I was in college and one a supporting character on Futurama, which I watched for about a year. (Hmph.) So handy to use Across Lite, so I could key in random letters until chancing upon the correct one and generating the Happy Pencil.