April 12, 2007

Friday, 4/13

NYS 6:37
NYT 4:57
3/30 CHE 4:35
LAT 3:57
CS 2:55

WSJ 12:17
Reagle tba

(updated at 9:05 a.m. Friday)

Oy! It's Friday the 13th! And my kid's got the day off school, so we'll see if I actually find the time to do all those other Friday puzzles when it's actually Friday. Wish me luck!

The Friday NYT is a 66-worder by Patrick Berry with batches of 8-letter words crossing 7-letter ones that cross 15-letter entries. Very good fill in which words play with one another, resonating. To wit: BUDDHA (of Four Noble Truths fame) and PEACENIK are IN ECSTASY because of a TRIPLE WORD SCORE, while ISRAEL spins a DREIDEL—and that's just the top of the puzzle. SODA is a [Gin fizz ingredient]. What kind? SLOE gin, PRITHEE. The drink SLOSHES because he DANDLES a baby on his knee. The clues are terrific, too: [It might wind up in the kitchen] for EGG TIMER. [Country where Taki-Taki is spoken] is SURINAME, though the Wikipedia article doesn't list it with the slew of languages spoken in that diverse land. (Ah, it's the same as Sranantongo.) The Scrabble TRIPLE WORD SCORE has a tricksy clue, [Red square], and so does DREIDEL, [Top of the holiday season?]. [Any number from 1 to 12] is GRADE (meaning a grade in school, as in 1st or 12th grade). [Impressionists exaggerate them] refers to performers who do impressions, not French painters; they play up TICS. The OFF SEASON [is no time for playing games]. [Like some complex feelings] is OEDIPAL. You can read up here on the black ALDER [(winterberry plant)]; gotta love a botanical article that mentions the Rialto at Venice, pendulous catkins, Norse mythology, and rheumatism in Newfoundland. Here is a picture of Cate Blanchett playing Veronica GUERIN, opposite Colin Farrell. You know what? I really enjoyed this crossword. Very few super-easy clues, plenty of clever clues, and a passel of words and phrases that bump up pleasantly against one another. Some themeless grids are just boring, but this one's got zing to it.

Oh, pooh. I finished writing all about Patrick Berry's fabulous NYT puzzle, opened up the Sun Weekend Warrior...and it's another themeless by the same guy. It was tougher, and I liked it, but it seemed a little drier than the other one. Favorite pieces: [Stick in the medicine cabinet] gets me every time: it's Q-TIP. The movie in the RUSS Meyer clue was written by Meyer; it was Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens that Roger Ebert scripted. Liked the citation of The Aristocrats in the SARAH clue. [Noise heard after someone crashes, maybe] is SNORE. Two fur-bearing animals cross each other, STOAT and OTTERS. I had no idea that HAN SOLO [gets frozen in carbonite] (and please, don't enlighten me with which movie that happened in. I am okay with this sort of ignorance). A MASTER is an [Original document]. Who doesn't love [Enigmatology topic] as a clue for CROSSWORDS? [Pitching technique] is HARD SELL rather than anything having to do with baseball. The clue for John TESH is ["Roundball Rock" composer]; I don't watch much NBA action on TV, so I didn't know the music (which you can hear via a Java music player at that Wikipedia page)—but my husband recognized it immediately and thought I was on the ESPN site.


Pancho Harrison's LA Times puzzle has an excellent theme involving puns on the names of four pop stars of the '80s and beyond. The crossword is further enlivened by fill such as SLURPEE, PEEP HOLE, LA STRADA, and GAMBOL, and clues like [Touching sport?] for EPEE, [Sumac with a wide range] for YMA (both of these rescuing otherwise boring entries), and [Folding line] for I'M OUT.

Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy crossword assembles a group of nearly ubiquitous items these days—DVD extra features.

Patrick Berry (again!) constructed the March 30th Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, with a theme of EPONYMS. I knotted myself up in the upper right corner by having ****L**L from two theme entries and deciding that [In a line?] should be PARALLEL, and that second A convinced me that GUAVA was the green fruit. And then nothing else fit! Turned out to be FAMILIAL and OLIVE...

Took me a while to see the theme in the Wall Street Journal puzzle by "Colin Gale" (anagram of Mike Shenk's school paper), "Tax Increases." The title is timely, but a little skewed. Yes, tax time is taxing and it's trying, but thinking about income taxes doesn't send one straight to TRY. Each theme entry has a TRY tacked on somewhere, so a faux pas becomes FAUX PASTRY, a plastic doughnut.