December 27, 2006

Thursday, 12/28

LAT 4:58
NYT 4:34
NYS 3:43
CS 3:36

Aren't Karen Tracey's themeless puzzles a ton of fun? Her Themeless Thursday in the Sun is no exception. (Spoilers down yonder.)

Ed Early's NYT puzzle had a quote theme combined with a themeless vibe—just 72 words (with 40 black squares shaping the left/right symmetry), including two corners with stacked 9-letter entries (like the quaint KNEE PANTS) and tough bits like [Gearwheel tooth cutter] for HOB. The quote is from James Russell Lowell; you can read his bio at Wikipedia and many of his other quotes (but not this one) at Wikiquote. I liked C PLUS ([A little better than average]), the consonant-dense TWELFTHS, the [Outfielder's cry] I GOT IT, FLASHCARD, and NEVERMORE with a non-Poe clue. I do enjoy twisty Thursday gimmicks, but there's also something to be said for a Thursday puzzle that smacks of Friday fill and clues.

Karen's Sun puzzle had many of her trademarks—two interesting long answers crossing in the middle (SCHADENFREUDE, which I love, and JOHN QUINCY ADAMS), Scrabbly letters (the great BLOWZY, plus SHORTZ crossing DR KATZ), exotic geography (MONROVIA and GABONESE), 70 words in a sprawling grid, lively phrases (I THEE WED, JURY-RIGS, GO NUDE), and pop culture (BREE, LAA-LAA, HAL ASHBY). Hey, you know what I'd like to see? A book of Karen Tracey puzzles. I'm sure I wouldn't be the only buyer.