July 28, 2007

Saturday, 7/28

Newsday 5:58
LAT 5:08
NYT 4:49
CS 3:19

We went to the family fun fair at a nearby park this evening, and watched E.T. after sundown beneath the stars...and clouds...and jets flying east from O'Hare. It was Ben's first time seeing it, though I'm not sure how much he actually watched. I think he and his buddies were conferring much of the time. Anyway, the movie ended at 10:45, and by the time the kid was asleep and I'd had a snack, what do you know? It's past midnight, and the crossword awaits.

Long-time readers may recall my fear and loathing of centipedes. During the course of solving Manny Nosowsky's Saturday New York Times puzzle, what did I behold but a teeny centipede zipping across the wall to my left. Horrors! And the little bugger shot behind something so I could not rid myself of the distraction. So back to the puzzle (clock ticking), solving away—and there it is again, straight ahead! Fortunately, it had nowhere close to hide and could not escape my wrath. I think I deserve a medal for contending with nature's leggy fury whilst solving a crossword.

My favorite clues in the NYT puzzle: [Mike Brady of "The Brady Bunch," e.g.] for STEPDAD (though of course he was living with three boys of his own); [Common site of archaeological remains] for BOG (as in well-preserved ancient bodies unearthed in bogs); [Class struggles?] for LESSONS; [Carnegie Mellon athletes] for TARTANS (this I did not know); [Young members of a convocation] for EAGLETS; and [Guide feature?] for SILENT U. The [Bristol Cream ingredient] is OLOROSO; sherry, ick. Favorite entries: HAD DIBS; THE EDGE of U2; the Potsieesque SIT ON IT; BARGE IN; ELEANOR Roosevelt; NOW WHAT, and STINKER.

Daniel Stark's Newsday Saturday Stumper contains 72 words, so there's plenty of flexibility for Scrabbly fill, and yet the grid is loaded with words like INTENTS and DESIRED and NEATENS (and precious few phrases—I counted three, vs. 18 in the NYT crossword). The clues were fine, but I do appreciate twisty question-marked clues that can amuse me. I also like having stacks of 8- to 11-letter entries with some surprises, some fresh phrases and unusual letter patterns.

By the way, I'm attending the BlogHer conference on Saturday, so I'll be tardy for the Sunday puzzle.