March 22, 2008

Sunday, 3/23

NYT about 9:00
BG about 9:00
WaPo about 8:45
Going Too Far 8:21
PI 7:24
LAT 6:29
CS 3:27

You know what? I have a typo or error somewhere in my New York Times crossword, and I don't feel like looking for it. (Oh, wait, there it is! YUURE for YOURE. My applet time says 20:18, but that's a lie. A lie, I say!) It's late, I just got back home after eight days of spring break, the bathroom was painted while we were away so we had to clean up and re-equip the bathroom, and nobody's gone shopping for Easter Bunny stuff yet. So a grid the applet won't accept is fine with me. "Common Interests," by Robert W. Harris, has eight phrases that are directly associated with half the clue and sort of punnily connected to the other half. For example, the common interests of [Electrical engineers and news anchors?] are CURRENT EVENTS. The order of the two clue parts seems random, rather than sticking with straightforward first, punny second. I like the 7x7 corners in the upper left and lower right, lots of white space. (Edited to add: According to Jim, this is Harris's debut. Congrats!)

I solved the Across Lite Boston Globe crossword, "What's My Line," on the plane, with the laptop on my husband's tray table because the yob in front of me opted to recline his seat into my airspace (I am morally opposed to reclined seatbacks when it's not sleepy-time), getting a sideways crick in my back. What does that have to do with the puzzle? Nothing. The 12 theme entries hinge on the clues—each clue is a "___ line" phrase, split into separate words pointing toward a phrase that might be such a line. Baseline becomes [Base line?], which is WHO'S ON FIRST. An assembly line becomes [Assembly line?], or INSERT A INTO B.

Mel Rosen's Washington Post puzzle, "Roommates," slaps together two "___ room" words, ditches the "room" part, and reclues accordingly. Elbow room and a storeroom join forces as ELBOW STORE, [Where to buy pasta?], for example. Wiggle room and work room contribute to WIGGLE WORK, having to do with belly-dancing. These and eight other theme entries take up plenty of grid space. Actor Armand ASSANTE is in the puzzle; in strip poker, is it possible to have an ass ante?


Easy themeless offering from Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily in the CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge." Two triple-stacks of 15-letter phrases amid lots of 3- and 4-letter words that are mostly not too tough to figure out, and once you've filled in one or two of the 15s, you've got a lot of footholds to charge through the rest of the puzzle.

Also in the easy vein, the syndicated LA Times crossword, "Strike Effects," by David Kwong and Kevan Choset. Each theme entry is a TV show's title with a letter removed, changing one word into another. For example, [Show about a castaway's wrath?] is THE LONE ANGER (The Lone Ranger). The Down answer in the bottom right corner is WRITERS, [Recent strikers who literally account for today's missing theme letters]. That's right: The first theme show is missing a W (DESIGNING OMEN), the second an R (FAMILY MATTES), the third an I (MARRED WITH CHILDREN), and so on through T, E, R, and S. I like the play on the multiple meanings of strike—the union members were on strike, and the letters are struck out.

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle, "IQ Test," assembles a batch of phrases that contain IQ, such as THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE and UNIQUELY QUALIFIED. Lots of theme entries, some of 'em long, many of them intersecting to make a lattice through the grid. The theme itself isn't particularly entertaining, though I do like to see a bunch of Qs in the grid, but I admire the way the theme entries interconnect.

Updated again:

This weekend's second Sunday puzzle in the NYT is Eric Berlin's latest "Going Too Far" puzzle. The clues aren't so hard and answers aren't at all obscure, but it takes a while to fill the grid because you're not sure of the length of each entry until you get some of those gray squares filled in by entries that "go too far." I didn't try piecing together the quote (which occupies the gray squares) until the end, when I needed the final letter to tell me the first letter of the [___ Canal, joining Lake Huron with Lake Ontario]. The quote ends with a T, so it's the TRENT Canal. Hey, Eric, put aside your Puzzling World of Winston Breen sequel and make 60 more "Going Too Far" puzzles for a book, will ya? I'd like that.

The quote in the "Going Too Far" puzzle includes the word MAGIC, which spurs me to recommend the engrossing March 17 New Yorker article by Adam Gopnik on magic, what it tells us about how we think, and magicians. I'm not into magic, but loved the article. (Except for where Gopnik uses "regime" where he ought to've used "regimen." Pet peeve.) Here's the abstract of the article, which you'll need to dig up in the printed magazine.