August 04, 2007

Sunday, 8/5

NYT 10:32 (but go ahead and subtract a couple minutes for the Dreaded Typo Search)
LAT 8:45
BG 7:18
WaPo 7:10
Reagle 6:24
CS 3:22

(updated at 12:20 and 7:40 p.m. Sunday)

The Sunday New York Times crossword this weekend was constructed by Caroline Leong, and I think she's a newcomer. Congrats if this is indeed a debut! I loved the "Winging It" theme, in which each of the six long theme entries takes the form bird/birds/birds—the first bird doubles as a person or character's last name, the second doubles as a verb, and the third doubles as a plural noun. Florence NIGHTINGALE HAWKS LARKS, Steve MARTIN PARROTS COOTS, and Christopher WREN SWALLOWS RAILS. From literature and movies, Atticus FINCH DUCKS CUCKOOS and Captain Jack SPARROW GULLS CARDINALS. The Arthurian magician MERLIN ROOKS BOOBIES. I was familiar with all of these birds but the merlin, a "smallish falcon." I like crosswords that are heavy on geography (hello, ALASKANS!), plants and trees (SYCAMORES), colloquial phrases (ASK FOR ME, GET UGLY), pop culture (ERICA, PETULA, POTSIE)...and birds. I like birds, so this theme was captivating. (My husband has an abiding mistrust of all birds, though.) I found the most mysterious spot in the grid to be CORDED, [Like some tires]. This Business Week article gave me some idea of what that means. My dratted typo involved keying in PERC instead of PARC for 16-Down, and the crossing was an actress's first name, so eyeballing the crossing didn't make me see the typo. [Actress Wood of "Diamonds Are Forever"] is LANA Wood, but there are Lena Woods out there, too, so either name was plausible.


We're off to the Simpsons movie this afternoon, so I don't have much puzzle time right now.

The online Boston Globe crossword, "Flare Affair" by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, included a couple unfamiliar words. (There are also two incorrect squares in the solution grid—should be TOLKIEN, not TOLKEIN, to get the correct crossing answers.) NATES = medical terminology for buttocks, but I've never seen the word before. PRATO = town of Tuscany, home base for the slow food movement.

Eric Berlin's LA Times syndicated crossword, "Sing Sing," sparkles. The theme entries begin with one-word TONY-WINNING MUSICALS (not all of which I'm familiar with). I can't put my finger on exactly why I enjoyed the puzzle—just the overall gestalt of the clues and fill, I suppose. One example: [J and No] as a clue for DRS.

Martin Ashwood-Smith's themeless CrosSynergy puzzle's fairly easy. Bonus points for including my screen name in ORANGE MARMALADE, of course.

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle is called "No Threes, No Fours," and it's themeless. The Notepad says this: NOTE: I recently overheard a solver complaining about seeing the same three- and four-letter words over and over in his daily puzzle, and I thought, y'know, it's summer ... maybe the threes and fours should take a vacation. So here's a themeless challenger in which every answer is at least five letters long. (By the way, reigning crossword champ Tyler Hinman, who's just 22 years old, solved it in 6 minutes, 32 seconds. Aren't you just thrilled to know THAT.) Yes, Merl. Yes, I am. I edged Tyler out by 8 seconds—though if he did it on paper and not online, then I didn't actually finish faster than Tyler. Hooray for a Sunday-sized themeless crossword! And hooray for a puzzle that's blissfully free of the see-'em-all-the-time short words! (My cousin, a crossword newbie, quickly tired of the Dell Easy Crosswords publications because she realized she was seeing those same words over and over and over again. But now she uses "eke" in conversation, so it wasn't a total loss.)

Gotta run—will get to the Washington Post puzzle later on.

Later on:

Fairly easy Washington Post crossword by John Halverson, called "Face the Music." The theme involves music genres tacked onto the beginning of words that begin with the same sequence of letters; e.g., DISCO DISCORD, RAP RAPACITY, and new crossword stalwart EMO in EMO EMOLLIENT. Favorite entries: FACE TIME, clued as [Business meetings, e.g.]; DOT-TO-DOT puzzles; the horribly bearded ZZ TOP; and the TAB KEY.