May 11, 2007

Saturday, 5/12

NYT 6:49
LAT 4:38
Stumper 4:14
4/27 CHE 4:58
TPP #1 3:26
TPP #2 4:46
CS 2:26

Hi everyone, Al Sanders here, the last of the week’s guest bloggers. I’m definitely pretty nervous after the outstanding job that everyone has done this week, so go easy on me. Evad will have the picture-filled blogging to himself, but I’ll do my best to add plenty of interesting links. I’d just like to say I think it’s amazing the community that Am… er, Orange has built here. The discussion has been as lively and interesting as ever in her absence, and I’m sure she’s very proud of this site, as she should be. I’d just like to say thanks for having the chance to be part of it.

Now, what are those TPP times up there? Just a teaser for what is a very big day in cruciverbial cyberspace. Today marks the premiere a major new site, run by my Wordplay co-star and constructor extraordinaire, Trip Payne. The site is called Triple Play Puzzles and contains 20 mostly new puzzles of all types, with new puzzles to be added periodically. Add it to your favorites list today. I’ll post times for two of his puzzles each day, but I won’t spoil them so folks have time to get over there and solve them.

OK, enough introduction, let's talk about puzzles.

I must admit that I’m a living example of Will Shortz’ quote that speed solving crosswords is like chugging a glass of fine wine. One of the downsides of never solving without a stopwatch going is that I tend to miss some of the finer aspects of each construction. So, I’m not that used to expounding in detail on what makes a puzzle great. If I miss something about a puzzle that you think really stood out, by all means please add a comment pointing that out.

I love Saturdays, with three great themelesses to do: NYT, LAT, and Saturday Stumper.

I certainly wasn’t confident enough to do today’s NYT in GLUESTICK like Jon Stewart in a certain movie. Now that Rich Norris is a full-time editor, we don’t get to see as much of his work on the constructor side, but he’s a favorite from way back. This puzzle certainly didn’t disappoint. Every entry was smooth as could be. The four triple stack corners of 8’s and 9’s were all well executed. My favorite was the SW with VERSATILE, ICE SKATER, and DO-GOODERS.

I loved the entry SONG AND DANCE clued as “Evasive Tactic”. I’ve certainly heard of politicking, but I don’t think I’ve seen POLITICK in it’s infinitive form before. And EPISODEI for “Series opener” threw me for quite a while.

I worked this one from the bottom up again, just like Friday. I got ALUMNA, ALLS, and CAESURA pretty quickly, but TRALA for “Air part” stumped me to the very end. What a great clue. I also wasn’t familiar with DEBRA Wilson, a fresh change from the more common Winger or Messing. There’s plenty more to talk about on this one, so comment away!

On the editing side, Rich gives us another nice Themeless from Mark Milhet in the LAT. This one features a bold slash of 8’s and 9’s diagonally across the middle. Loved the clue “red alerts” for STOPSIGNS. I hadn’t heard of SQUILL before. And tell me you didn’t fall right into the deliberate trap at 3D, entering PROPHET instead of the intended POPSTAR for "Joel or John"! I certainly did.

The Saturday Stumper wasn’t too tough today. Dan Stark tends to have some of the easier Saturday Newsdays. Stan has a much different style for making his tough themelesses, relying more on stacks of 7’s, one word entries and terse cluing. I still find them enjoyable, though.

The CHE puzzle may be of interest to those who raised their eyebrows at GLUON. And another Wordplay co-star (geez, how many times will he gratuitously mention that movie?), Patrick Jordan, has a nice “no idea what the theme is until the last entry pulls them all together” CrosSynergy puzzle.

Man, all this linking took way longer than I thought. I better get this posted before you think I’ve gone AWOL. Have a nice weekend, everyone!