Thursday, 4/30/09

NYT 2:35 ... LAT 2:26 ... CS 2:09 ... ND 1:50

Feeling much better today... Great puzzles all around too. There's a mistake in the Newsday puzzle, where a couple of letters in 21D were changed (presumably last-minute), but the edited clues didn't make it into the online file.

Wednesday, 4/29/09

NYT 2:34 ... LAT 1:37 ... CS 1:50 ... ND 1:40 ... BEQ 3:26

Could have been 15 seconds faster on the NYT, because I had STAND AND at the beginning of the central 15, expecting DELIVER to show up, and didn't look at it again until the applet rejected me. (My erroneous Down was ERN - obviously not an eyebrow-raiser...) Even though it's timely with 9 to 5 now in Broadway previews, two days in a row with short theme answers is pretty lame. I can imagine how the LA solvers felt! Speaking of which, I was really on Doug's wavelength for the LAT, which seems to be my Wednesday record, for what that's worth. ($0.00)

morning update... last night I felt great, today I feel like I have swine flu. (No fever, but I was pretty worried, having spent much of yesterday in Queens.) In other news, C.C. interviewed Doug today, and in other-other news, I may have my first crossword testing/proofing gig (if I don't keel over).

Tuesday, 4/28/09

NYT 2:42 ... LAT 1:50 ... CS 1:48 ... ND 1:41 ... BT 2:34 ... TO 2:37

Monday, 4/27/09

NYT (p) 2:50 ... LAT 1:42 ... CS 1:39 ... ND 1:22 ... JON 5:37 ... BEQ 2:48

Solved the NYT last night at my aunt and uncle's house. I printed out copies for my mom and myself, and she finished in maybe 8 minutes! I had never seen the word HUMUS - or so I thought, because it was in a Sunday puzzle last year. Still, not a Monday word (even though Mom and aunt knew it immediately). And not a great showing for me, but I wasn't "warmed up" at all.

Holy crap, Matt Jones, nice 16x16 themeless featuring huge Longoesque white spaces! The fill's not bad at all, especially in the crazy center chunk. Spent a minute finishing the top section because WCT, LUXO, and ASHA were total unknowns and I couldn't figure out CRUISE from -R-I-E.

Sunday, 4/26/09

NYT 9:15 ... LAT 4:52 ... BG 4:54 ... MR 4:48 ... ND 4:00 ... LATB 3:47 ... CS 2:09 ... Acrostic 9:16

Trip Payne is my favorite constructor, so seeing him in the NYT is always great, but several dozen rebus squares? Bonus! (Ooh, and record-setting!) 56-Down was co-founded by Michael Colton, who joined Tyler Hinman to commentate on the Crosswords West/L.A. tournament yesterday.

Rich Norris's Sunday Challenge seems easier than his usual offering. Check out Shirley Soloway's Newsday puzzle - it's got a fun wordplay theme that I haven't seen before. Sylvia Bursztyn's theme is also pretty clever, though much easier.

Saturday, 4/25/09

NYT 4:26 ... LAT 4:06 ... CS 1:52 ... ND 9:45

Again, the other puzzles beat me up before a quick NYT solve. On Doug's Stumper, I was staring at mostly blank space with about two patches filled until the 5-minute mark, but after a couple of guesses it came together. Strangely, I had more fun staring at empty boxes in last week's unpopular puzzle.

Friday, 4/24/09

NYT 3:09 ... LAT 3:25 ... CS 1:41 ... ND 2:15 ... CHE 3:07 ... WSJ 6:19 ... BEQ 4:35 ... MGWC 7:25*

Had some trouble spots with the LAT and CHE, but surprisingly not with the NYT.

afternoon update: Not fully on my game with the rest of the puzzles, especially BEQ's... Gaffney's contest crossword is fantastic (and hard!). According to Alex's tool I have a wrong letter somewhere, but I can't find it, and anyway I think I've got the metapuzzle figured out.

Thursday, 4/23/09

NYT 2:55 ... LAT 2:21 ... CS 1:54 ... ND 1:56

Wednesday, 4/22/09

NYT 1:57 ... LAT 1:36 ... CS 1:41 ... ND 2:01 ... BEQ 2:44

Hmm, the applet isn't loading. Hmm, the Across Lite version isn't working either. Hmm, doesn't NYT Digital have someone in charge of this? Oh, she was recently fired?

Glad I checked Wordplay (despite the risk of spoilers) and found Jim's Across Lite puzzle before printing Amy's PDF. Obviously, I haven't yet confirmed my solution is correct, but nothing was questionable. I quickly realized that there would be a picture of a boat, and the answers referencing it would be parts of said boat. Clever idea, but I didn't like it much - it's basically a 78-word, Tuesday-level themeless with six unclued entries. Actually, that sounds kinda fun...

Tuesday, 4/21/09

NYT 1:32 ... LAT 1:50 ... CS 1:32 ... ND 1:32 ... BT 2:40 ... TO 2:06

Today's NYT might be the fastest I've ever nailed a theme. After the first 4 Downs went in I had TINK-, and when TINKERSHORTSTOP fit, I was like, "No way, all three names-plus-positions are 15 letters?" So I went and filled in the other 15s lickety-split, and started solving at the bottom right to confirm COMBO.

Alex reminded me that I didn't answer the clue I posted: John (words) and Paul (music), six letters ending in S. Answer in the comments!

Monday, 4/20/09

NYT 1:43 ... LAT 1:37 ... CS 1:50 ... ND 1:42 ... JON 3:07 ... BEQ 2:26

Sunday, 4/19/09

NYT 5:50 ... LAT 4:19 ... MR 4:46 ... BG 4:22 ... ND 3:46 ... LATB 4:56 ... CS 3:12

It's been a while since I finished a Sunday puzzle without figuring out the theme, but that's what happened with the NYT. Was the Sunday Challenge a bit harder than usual, or was I just not in the usual groove with Martin Ashwood-Smith? Maybe both?

By the way, I got absolutely nowhere with the first puzzle in Justin's Metacross Contest... well, I filled the crossword, but couldn't arrange the colored squares into anything useful.

Late edit: The Diagramless turned out to be the same one I solved Friday night at the ACPT. It was still fun the second time around!

Saturday, 4/18/09

NYT 6:20 ... LAT 2:25 ... CS 1:35 ... ND 8:15

Friday, 4/17/09

NYT 3:00 ... LAT 2:47 ... CS 2:51 ... ND 1:46 ... CHE 2:03 ... WSJ 4:24 ... BEQ 2:55 ... MGWC 3:44

Thursday, 4/16/09

NYT 2:31 ... LAT 1:47 ... CS 1:32 ... ND 1:33

Hey, if you weren't aware, Justin Smith is starting a "MetaCross Contest" today. I haven't spent much time at Justin's Puzzles because they're too hard... or rather, I have no idea how to solve those kinds of brainteasers. But crosswords I understand! So I encourage you all to kick my ass in Justin's contest.

Wednesday, 4/15/09

NYT (p) 2:51 ... LAT 2:19 ... CS 1:53 ... ND 1:43 ... BEQ 3:50

NYT was Puzzle 4 at the BCPT.

Check out the great interview with Dan Naddor at Crossword Corner! Amazing that he didn't start submitting until 2006, but will be over 100 published puzzles soon. He hasn't ruled out submitting to the NYT, it's just that he's gotten into quite a groove with Rich Norris...

Tuesday, 4/14/09

NYT (p) 3:07 ... LAT 1:29 ... CS 1:47 ... ND 1:19 ... BT 3:02 ... TO 2:11

The NYT was Puzzle 3 at the BCPT. I got kinda stuck near the corner of ATEDIRT (which I couldn't parse until the whole answer appeared) and DISSIDENT (which I wrote, erased, and re-wrote).

Yesterday (technically today as I write this, but it says "Tuesday" up top), I solved this old CS puzzle on paper in 1:49. [See below for visual "proof".] It felt like a record pace halfway through, but I managed not to choke! Long answers helped - there were about a dozen clues I didn't even see. Two of my personal fastest puzzles now are by Martin Ashwood-Smith, two by Peter Gordon. They're smooth!

Monday, 4/13/09

NYT 1:34 ... LAT 1:38 ... CS 1:44 ... ND 1:27 ... JON 2:09 ... BEQ 3:01

Personal record in the NYT applet, thanks to Natan Last's wide-open Monday puzzle.

Was on a record pace in the Jonesin', but ran into three consecutive answers I've never heard of near the bottom, including two themes. Well, 2.3 things I've never heard of, because "EEESTEVEZ" could be inferred.

Sunday, 4/12/09

NYT 4:57 ... LAT 3:49 ... BG 6:29 ... MR 6:44 ... ND 4:00 ... LATB 5:09 ... CS 1:49 ... Acrostic 17:16

The Hex and Reagle puzzles both gave me some trouble. Apparently I don't know very many Beatles songs! Fortunately, Eric Berlin's excellent NYT got me smiling, both at the fun fill and at my solving time.

In ten years, Nancy Salomon has apparently never made a Sunday Challenge for CrosSynergy. Her 72-worder today is extremely smooth, of course, but way easy.

I've officially started solving cryptic crosswords! It took less than a half-hour to finish the first two puzzles in 101 Cryptic Crosswords (and grok all the clues), so it hasn't been too scary. I'm missing some obvious cue words, and solving "backwards" often (guessing the answer off of crossings and a definition word), but I suspect that pretty soon I'll be looking for recommendations on the next difficulty level...

Got my new World's Most Ornery Crosswords collection! Unlike the copy I tossed in the BCPT prize pool, this one doesn't have the fancy fold-out design for accessing the Easy clues. But it's easy enough to tear out the Easy clue pages.

Nice synergy with today's Boston Globe: Ornery #2 by Cox/Rathvon contains what may be my favorite clue of all time: [John (words) and Paul (music)]. Six letters ending in S...

Saturday, 4/11/09

NYT 4:01 ... LAT 3:28 ... ND 3:18 ... CS 1:40

My fastest Saturday Stumper by far, due to a large number of fact- and pop-culture-based clues. Without crossings I knew 14-, 15-, 16-, 18-, 51- and 60- Across, and the Q was enough for me to slap down LIQUOR CABINET. Wonder if others will find this the easiest themeless of the day...

The NYT was similarly quick because of some good guesses, and because, well, Karen M. Tracey's Scrabbliness is predictable even though it's awesome. For instance, I guessed TELEXES with no crossings and happily confirmed it with YAKETY SAX. I could go on but my gf is ready for brunch. I'll just say: CRES is not a musical score abbr. unless you're willing to go var....

Friday, 4/10/09

NYT 4:06 ... LAT 2:47 ... CS 1:55 ... ND 2:35 ... CHE 2:13 ... WSJ 4:53 ... BEQ 2:33 ... MGWCC 3:44

Thursday, 4/9/09

NYT 2:33 ... LAT 2:22 ... CS 2:02 ... ND 1:55

Yay, another double-Blindauer day! ...even though the CS puzzle is basically the same "double" theme as ACPT Puzzle 4. I'm guessing PB2 and Tony Orbach originally made their NYT puzzle for Peter Gordon, but fortunately Will Shortz was able to give it a good home.

Wednesday, 4/8/09

NYT 2:20 ... LAT 2:12 ... CS 1:41 ... ND 1:38 ... BEQ 2:58

C.C. interviewed me for Crossword Corner, an excellent blog that used to cover the defunct Tribune Media Services syndicate, and now covers the LAT crossword.

Tuesday, 4/7/09

NYT (p) 2:23 ... LAT 1:51 ... CS 1:44 ... ND 1:29 ... BT 2:52 ... TO 2:58

Again, solved Joon's excellent NYT up at Harvard. I'm not going to do a whole post on the BCPT - there's not much to add that wasn't covered in Joon's recap and R&B's podcast...

There's only one thing to say about Doug Peterson's CS puzzle: 48-Down.

Monday, 4/6/09

NYT (p) 2:08 ... LAT 2:00 ... CS 2:05 ... ND 1:42 ... JON 2:07 ... BEQ 3:09

Solved the NYT at the Boston Crossword Puzzle Tournament... Fabulous fill in Lynn Lempel's CS... Got a bit stuck in the SW of BEQ's funny meta-themed puzzle.

Sunday, 4/5/09

NYT (p) 8:16 ... LAT 4:17 ... MR (p) 7:29 ... BG (p) 6:45 ... ND 4:16 ... LATB 5:00 ... CS 4:16 ... Pathfinder ~10min

Heading to Boston for the day tomorrow! Joon and I will finally meet, and I hope to fake-win the tournament. In that I won't compete, but I'll solve along and compare times with the Bostonians. Props to Ryan and Brian for giving me a lift! I suppose I'll have a recap here at some point.

Pathfinder! Love this variety and have actually solved a few recently. This one came together pretty quickly (didn't use the stopwatch), with easier clues than the ones in Twisted Crosswords. I remember the first one of Hook's I tried took three or four stabs to finish because of the different kind of logic involved.

Saturday, 4/4/09

NYT 4:11 ... LAT 2:25 ... CS 1:35 ... ND 6:01

Friday, 4/3/09

NYT 3:53 ... LAT 2:20 ... CS 2:11 ... ND 2:01 ... CHE 2:15 ... WSJ 5:43 ... BEQ 3:19 ... MGWC 2:31

Thursday, 4/2/09

NYT 2:00 ... LAT 2:08 ... CS 1:55 ... ND 2:10

Yes, the Newsday puzzle took me longer than the others! I couldn't make much headway in the top half (for some reason, [Pipeline place] starting with AL didn't ring any bells) and had to solve bottom-up. Actual time was about 2:00 but I had to find a typo.

On the NYT, wish I'd gotten the cursor up to DONE! just a second sooner, but I'll take it. Damn, seven theme answers and ten Xs. Now to watch today's Jeopardy!!

Like the real crossword bloggers, I was contacted by Puzzlewright Press about their new Twitter feed. I'm resisting Twitter, but I'll put up a permanent link to the free daily puzzle. Check it out! I'd be more excited if there weren't any sudoku involved, but man, when a sample Vwllss goes up...

Hey, remember a few days ago when I was salivating over GAMES The World's Most Ornery Crosswords, Volume 1? It arrived today, in near-mint condition. Thirty-two 25x25 crosswords (not all themeless, it appears), by the best in the biz, edited by Will Shortz. There's a neat fold-out-and-over design to accomodate the Easy clues, though I imagine they'll stay un-folded. Whoa, I just saw Merl Reagle has a triple stack of 25s in one puzzle. Anyway, the fact that the puzzles are from 1977-1992 only makes it more fun. Sadly, like the Variety Crosswords, there doesn't appear to be a Volume 2. And now it's really time to stop buying puzzle books for a while...