This is Mark Diehl's 36th NYT puzzle but we haven't heard from him in over a year and it's only his second since May, 2004. Welcome back. He has a penchant for innovative grid design so I'm very happy to see his name return to the byline.
The Saturday, August 9 puzzle (answers) continues his high standards. The word count of 64 is very low. Only ETE and maybe NEON verge on overly common answers, but they both have great clues: "French quarter", and "element of Times Square." The puzzle starts at 1 Across with a wonderful debut. "One looking for a kiss" is a FROG PRINCE. It ain't easy bein' green. Believe it or not, KNEESIES ("under-the-table-action) is not a debut. I bet that answer made you smile when you figured it out.
Speaking of word count, I can finally answer the often-asked question: which puzzles have the highest and lowest word counts? The answers are here. Check out the thumbnail views. Low word-count puzzles tend to be pretty.
Do you think Saturday puzzle constructors secretly enjoy causing us pain? According to his cruciverb biography, Mr. Diehl is a dentist with Veterans Affairs. But wait, maybe he's ok after all. After talking about his wife and three daughters under interests, he goes on to mention "mentoring dental residents" and "life in general." I like that.
A short post today, I'm afraid, but the main message is that I like everything about this crossword. Make more, Mr. Diehl. And now rinse.