Tuesday, 6/30/09

NYT 1:38 ... LAT 2:11 ... CS 1:49 ... ND 1:32 ... BT 3:21 ... TO 2:43

Well, I spoke too soon about having an internet connection... The wireless signal at home is probably coming from a ways away, so it goes in and out. Better than nothing!

Monday, 6/29/09

NYT 1:45 ... LAT 1:58 ... CS 2:02 ... ND 1:35 ... BEQ 3:08

OK, solving on the bus wasn't too bad. Sometimes I think Paula G. gets special treatment because she works for Mr. Shortz, but today's is an amazing (and Oryx-worthy)Monday puzzle.

update: Hey, good news everyone! My host (or her neighbor) has wifi, so I may be keeping up with the puzzles/blogs after all. I was expecting only to have internet at work, where I don't get much laptop time.

Sweet proper names in PB2's CS offering - KIEV, PEABO, WALSTON, WENDT - and of course SWEET CHARITY (starring Christina Applegate). Kinda disliked the LAT puzzle, despite PIANISTS and MOLTEN LAVA... lots of awkward fill everywhere and a marquee themer I've never heard of. Norris went super-sized (again!) for that?

I also have to mention the Sunday Newsday puzzle... The title "Back and Forth: some alternate spellings" didn't exactly spell out the theme, which I finally realized was simply phrases with alternating vowels and consonants. I liked it fine, because Fred Piscop always brings smooth 'n' lively fill, but I would have liked a little more spoon-feeding from my Newsday puzzle. I wonder if I was just being dumb, or if there were thousands of confused solvers around the country yesterday wondering what they were missing.

Sunday, 6/28/09

NYT 5:38 ... LAT 4:07 ... MR 4:58 ... BG 5:41 ... ND 3:52 ... CS 2:01 ... Spiral (p) 6:40

I'm blogging on a bus! Greyhound screwed us over ("us" being the lucky artists taking an eight-hour bus ride to New Hampshire), so the eight-hour trip is turning into eleven, but we're on a swank, wifi-enabled C&J bus for awhile. Anyone ever make the NYT applet top ten while riding on a bus? I'm about to try.

Saturday, 6/27/09

NYT 4:03 ... LAT 2:51 ... CS 2:00 ... ND 4:20

Funny coincidence - the friend whose wedding I'm going to tonight was in the same college class as Stella Daily, who cowrote the wedding-themed CrosSynergy puzzle. (...And is also getting married today!)

I'd hoped to write a little more this week, about Dean Olsher, vowelless crosswords, and such, but time ran out on me. Haven't had any time to work on my puzzle idea either, so that'll have to wait a couple weeks. See you on the other side...

Friday, 6/26/09

NYT 4:08 ... LAT 2:41 ... CS 1:42 ... ND 2:21 ... CHE 3:02 ... WSJ 4:25 ... BEQ 5:08 ... MGWC n/a

Thursday, 6/25/09

NYT 2:34 ... LAT 2:37 ... CS 1:46 ... ND 1:51

Great theme in the NYT (though I feel like it's been done better before?). Shoulda been at least 15 seconds faster, because I abandoned the SW corner with two empty squares, and it took me too long when I came back over there to finish. 50-Down was the problem, crosswordese with an odd enough clue to throw me.

Apparently this is post #200. How many with actual content, Blogger?

Wednesday, 6/24/09

NYT 3:09 ... LAT 1:45 ... CS 1:55 ... ND 1:36 ... BEQ (p) ~12:00

Tuesday, 6/23/09

NYT 2:01 ... LAT 2:01 ... CS 1:49 ... ND 1:42 ... BT 3:04 ... TO 3:37

This Sunday I'll be leaving town for two weeks to do a show in New Hampshire. Actual blogging will be sparse(r than usual), but I should be able to solve the puzzles and post times.

Tuesday update: I don't understand the Newsday theme. And to finish Matt Jones's excellent Onion puzzle, I had to play guess-the-[[spoiler]] in box 43.

Monday, 6/22/09

NYT 1:38 ... LAT 1:42 ... CS 1:56 ... ND 1:27 ... JON 2:17 ... BEQ 2:34

The NYT applet froze up five seconds into the solve, so I started over in Across Lite. (My computer's fault, not the applet's.) So my "real" time would be 5-10 seconds slower.

Sunday, 6/21/09

NYT 8:05 ... LAT 4:21 ... MR 4:49 ... BG 6:07 ... ND 3:51 ... CS 3:49 ... Acrostic ~7:00

Gotta admit, I was disappointed that the Ginsberg/Muller NYT theme wasn't gimmicky, but I liked it. Lost a minute finding my error (ALES for ADES). The NYT Acrostic seemed unusually easy, and Hex's BG puzzle was unusually hard, not just because of all the cross-referenced theme clues.

Saturday, 6/20/09

NYT 6:43 ... LAT 2:18 ... CS 1:55 ... ND 5:24 ... TM 3:20

Thanks Todd McClary for another fun bonus puzzle... and for the music/theater bent to the clues! Huge problems with the NW of Brad Wilber's NYT, not knowing LEMAT (seen it before) or TENIERS (???), and with such hard clues for the stacked Acrosses. Love ya Brad, but "Was I snoring?" is not a cross-worthy phrase - I spent minutes trying to think of an actual phrase ending in SNORING.

Friday, 6/19/09

NYT 4:35 ... LAT 1:50 ... CS 1:35 ... ND 2:02 ... WSJ 5:03 ... BEQ 2:40 ... MGWC 3:55

Got home Thursday afternoon, exhausted from a fun couple of days away (and a not-so-fun drive back in lousy weather), and with no energy to start catching up on crosswords. The only puzzles I did on the trip were a vowelless Tuesday before bed, and the Boston Globe's on Wednesday morning. The Globe's was by Carl Cranby, with no editor listed. So I hoped it might be at least the Newsday puzzle as I set in to solve it -- no such luck, as some terrible/bizarre clues betrayed the hand of Timothy Parker. How unfortunate that such a major newspaper, which even runs its own Sunday puzzle, uses one of the crap syndicated puzzles every day! Maybe there's another one in another section, I didn't look too hard...

update: Lots of long gimmes in today's themelesses by BEQ and DLW. Also set a LAT Friday record, and on a Daily/Venzke offering, which usually isn't on my wavelength. It helped that I had just done all the Wed. and Thu. puzzles, so the brain was all warmed up...

Thursday, 6/18/09

NYT 3:07 ... LAT 2:17 ... CS 1:49 ... ND 1:33

Wednesday, 6/17/09

NYT 2:09 ... LAT 1:53 ... CS 1:35 ... ND 1:31 ... BEQ 3:21

Tuesday, 6/16/09

NYT 2:06 ... LAT 1:29 ... CS 1:53 ... ND 1:37 ... BT 4:46 ... TO 2:34

Second day in a row I got a bit bollixed up on the NYT applet, but whatever, I'm going on a road trip! Heading to Maine ("Land of Cimmets") tomorrow to see a couple friends co-star in one of the best musicals of the last 25 years. Hey, I'm not working, why not take a road trip! Next update will be on Thursday... maybe Friday. (This is why I don't seek a readership here!)

Meanwhile, I did get the Vowelless book, have solved about 2.5 puzzles so far and will report back anon. I also spent an hour-plus with Puzzle Masterpieces today, which I hadn't touched for a couple months. They're just too good. I'm going to take two years to finish that thing, not just one. And speaking of Sterling Publishing and their penchant for awesome, PB2 tipped me off to some of their exciting (to me) upcoming projects... And I'll pass that info along just as soon as I see if it's OK to share it! (It's a sequel and a reprint series that I'm excited about, so nothing groundbreaking. I also heard about various sudoku hybrids...)

I've also spent the last week working on the puzzle idea that's going to get me published in the NYT. The key theme entry is an old idea that I wanted to build around, but never came up with anything clever enough, until a different, gimmickier way of approaching it occurred to me. Aha! It's that feeling Doug Peterson gets twice a day! Anyway, I'll be in touch with you all sooner or later for advice... :)

Monday, 6/15/09

NYT 2:07 ... LAT 1:40 ... CS 1:51 ... ND 1:37 ... JON 2:22 ... BEQ 3:12

Today (Sunday), I did some Downs-only solving, first a few CS puzzles and then a couple old LAT Saturdays. Good times! And today (Monday), I'll finally get my hands on Vowelless Crosswords.

Sunday, 6/14/09

NYT (p) 8:11 ... LAT 5:07 ... ND 3:56 ... MR (p) 8:13 ... MR 6/7* 5:37 ... MR 6/14* 5:26 ... BG (p) 8:42 ... CS 2:34 ... Cryptic (p) 14:35

I did a bunch of puzzles on paper today for the first time in months. Good for the soul! Also solved, without too much difficulty, a few variety cryptics from a variety of crossword books. Definitely getting the hang of the cryptics, but not yet fully addicted.

update: Haven't the vaguest idea which of Merl's puzzles are appearing where, so I did (what seem to be) the syndicated puzzles at Merl's site on the good old CC applet.

Saturday, 6/13/09

NYT 3:44 ... LAT 3:18 ... CS 1:59 ... ND 5:05

Friday, 6/12/09

NYT 3:05 ... LAT 2:14 ... CS 1:59 ... ND 2:21 ... CHE 2:15 ... WSJ 5:32 ... BEQ 3:14 ... MGWC 2:28

Thursday, 6/11/09

NYT 2:58 ... LAT 2:50 ... CS 1:51 ... ND 1:42

Cool non-traditional grid by Alex Boisvert in the NYT! I saw that Orange had posted a warning about the applet, so I used Across Lite, and checked out the grid for a few seconds before starting the clock. I remember reading a discussion about this idea on the cruciverb Crossword Fiend forum... how fun to see it in final form.

Wednesday, 6/10/09

NYT 2:46 ... LAT 2:20 ... CS 2:16 ... ND 1:27 ... BEQ 3:19

If I had thought about what number Hank Aaron wore, I might have seen the central entry sooner, and not tried FIFTY-FOUR elsewhere. Obama, again, Mr. Shortz? This couldn't have waited until the Super Bowl??

Tuesday, 6/9/09

NYT 1:48 ... LAT 1:43 ... CS 2:33 ... ND 1:37 ... BT 3:37 ... TO 4:24

Check out Todd McClary's Tony Awards-inspired crossword, posted yesterday morning!

Monday, 6/8/09

NYT 2:04 ... LAT 1:49 ... CS 1:56 ... ND 1:37 ... JON 3:04 ... BEQ 3:21

Oops, I forgot to post after solving the NYT last night. Tony Awards excitement, dontcha know! Lost about 10 seconds for a typo, and had two clues that I don't know at all (for NAS and YOST) - rare on a Monday.

Sunday, 6/7/09

NYT 8:52 ... LAT 4:30 ... MR 5:54 ... BG 4:16 ... ND 3:44 ... CS 2:43 ... Acrostic 9:05

Allllmost finished the NYT in about 7 minutes, but the central rebus circle eluded me until I realized why the circles were placed in that pattern -- and what belongs in the middle. To that point I wasn't on to the "shifty business", just coming up with the ordinal numbers where they fit... I think I had a "B" for "back" where "R" belongs, until I finished the rest of the grid and concentrated on what I was missing with the rebus. Hey, I don't drive stick.

Glad to hear via cruciverb-l that Sylvia Burzstyn is on a hiatus, and we'll be getting her Sunday LAT puzzle back soon...

Saturday, 6/6/09

NYT 2:48 ... LAT 2:58 ... CS 1:51 ... ND 9:10

Congrats Doug for having the NYT and LAT on the same day! Is that the first time you've turned that particular double play? Guess I was a little more on the NYT wavelength, that's my best Saturday time in the applet. I usually solve Newsday before the other two themelesses, but I took one look at the "S.N." puzzle and saved it for last so I wouldn't be too frustrated. Not nearly as cool as his last grid, and less fair clues as well.

Friday, 6/5/09

NYT 4:22 ... LAT 2:40 ... CS 1:53 ... ND 2:04 ... WSJ 5:38 ... BEQ 9:28 ... MGWC ~3:00

Cool design by Martin Ashwood-Smith in the NYT. His 10-Minute Crosswords book has the most aesthetically pleasing empty puzzles of any in my library. Flip through it at Barnes & Noble - gorgeous grids. Today's had some great clues too, which I don't usually notice speed-solving.

Nice Newsday by Sandy Fein - a Klahnian grid, in that the theme is simple and minimal, but the fill is wide-open and interesting. I LOLed at seeing the "first Ghanaian president" clue... his last name is in BEQ's Diagramless Crosswords, and I found it the most obscure/random entry in the whole book. Thanks BEQ, because I knew his first name today.

Also thanks BEQ for publishing a Trippy "Something Different" today!

Thursday, 6/4/09

NYT 2:34 ... LAT 2:22 ... CS 1:53 ... ND 1:47

Of all the days for me not to do the puzzles in a timely fashion! Doug and PB2 bring me easy puzzles, Dan Naddor has his weekly wide-open (yet theme-crammed) LAT, and Krozel/Collins have a baseball-related gimmick in the NYT. Geniuses all.

Wednesday, 6/3/09

NYT 2:10 ... LAT 1:58 ... CS 1:48 ... ND 1:43 ... BEQ 2:47

Finally caught up with the weekend puzzles. Meanwhile my computer is behaving again, but I still need to figure out what's wrong with it.

Tuesday, 6/2/09

NYT 2:35 ... LAT 1:46 ... CS 1:34 ... ND 1:47 ... BT 2:43 ... TO 2:50

"Finishing" time on the NYT was 1:55ish, but it was a mistake, and not a typo. ONKEY for INKEY - I did see the crossing clue but didn't think about it, obviously.

My crazy month is almost over... brother graduates from college today, I've moved into the new apartment, and my computer has decided to celebrate by acting up again.

Monday, 6/1/09

NYT 1:50 ... LAT 1:37 ... CS 1:42 ... ND 1:16 ... JON 2:31 ... BEQ 3:46

Love Conan O'Brien, love John Farmer, loved the Monday NYT.