October 30, 2006

Tuesday, 10/31

CS 5:15
Onion 4:53
NYS 4:31
Tausig 4:29
LAT 2:54
NYT 2:52

(post updated 9:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday)

Happy Halloween! For about the eighth year in a row, I don't have a costume. Last time I dressed up for the holiday, I was a cloud. Do you know how hard it is to make pillow stuffing stay attached to a sweatshirt? And sewing the lightning bolts on my pants was a hassle, too. But my son's all set with a store-bought costume.

Patrick Blindauer's racking up the credits with two puzzles for the day: a solo outing in the NYT and a joint production with Tony Orbach in the Sun (if you haven't been able to download the Sun puzzle, try using the .zip file for 10/31 here). In the NYT puzzle, the black squares in the middle look like a jack-o'-lantern. In particular, a pumpkin carved to look vampirical—in the hard-copy newspaper, the black squares bracketing 52-Across are rendered as triangular fangs. The theme entries (three 15's) are all clued as [Dracula's least favorite (something)?]. Good fill to boot—TEE TIME, EVIL-EYED, EUREKA, ESCARGOT.

The Blindauer/Orbach Sun puzzle, "Catching Some Z's," doesn't have a Halloween theme. It converts an S sound into a Z sound, as in BRUISE WILLIS. Speaking of catching some Z's, this ending of daylight saving time means it feels like it's way past my bedtime, and I'm falling asleep mid-sentence. Good puzzle...and good night.


Either I'm off my stride, or Bob Klahn's Halloween-themed CrosSynergy puzzle has an awful lot of tricky clues. Given the byline, I'd say there's a 75% chance it's the clues. If you like to work harder than usual on a Tuesday puzzle, check this one out.

Ben Tausig, who edits the Onion A.V. Club crosswords, is also in the stable of Onion constructors. Judging from the theme, Ben may be feeling creatively tapped out (do the puzzle and you'll see what I'm getting at—it's not a slam on Ben!).

Meanwhile, Ben's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "Cultural Learnings for Make Benefit American Crossword Solver," pays tribute to the Sacha Baron Cohen movie, Borat, which is being released this Friday. But the theme requires knowledge of geography more than the entertainment business, so it's educational (I pieced two of theme entries together with the help of crossings and learned a bit) as well as fun. And the clues! They're great. [Late August?] might put you in mind of the dog days, but the answer's playwright AUGUST Wilson. That's just one example of the goodies in this most enjoyable puzzle.