Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday, March 18, 2018, Daniel Raymon


Quite a cute little theme today, wherein the K sound in a phrase (or person's name) is replaced with the QU sound: trenchcoat :: TRENCHQUOTE (39A: "There are no athiests in foxholes"?) and peachy keen :: PEACHYQUEEN (105A: Monarch who's fine and dandy?). Pretty good. I was not familiar with Kerry Washington, so QUERYWASHINGTON (24A: Interrogate a founding father) didn't mean much to me. And speaking of presidents, I had to look up the president with the initials RWR (9D: Presidential inits.). It's Ronald Wilson Reagan. I'm pretty sure you could have waterboarded me forever and I still couldn't have come up with his middle name.


And one more thing about presidents, I didn't know Charles de Gaulle was born in LILLE, but it's nice to learn. We spent a few days in LILLE a while ago and found it to be a fun and interesting town. I recommend it.

MARACAIBO (56A: Largest lake in South America) is something that I will try to commit to memory. I enjoyed answers like QUAHOGS, BROADAX, AEOLIAN (100D: Kind of harp), PENANCE, APATHY, and PLANETS. On the other side of the quoin we have REDYE, ANNOYER, CEE, ETHNO, IED, RARER, ISE, and ERY. Perhaps a little more of this than usual on a Sunday, but still, the theme was funnish, so I guess it's all good.

I'm not sure if Colum is back yet, but if he is, he might have a little more to say.

Less than a week left before the ACPT! If you're not attending this year, you can still play along in real time by solving online. Frannie and I did this before we started going to Stamford, and it's really quite fun. More info here.


- Horace

I don't really have much to add. On the whole, I thought the theme was well worked out, and the Q words in the down direction were reasonable. My favorite was QUAHOGS, and second was 107D: The so-called "Flying Kangaroo" (QANTAS). I was not expecting an airline, but rather an Australian acrobat.

My favorite clue is 75D: Things with colons inside them (URLS). So much better than "abdomens" or some such thing.

Anyway, no errors today, and perhaps I will mirror that performance next weekend. HOPESO!

- Colum

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saturday, March 17, 2018, Roland Huget

0:20:53 (paper)

Top o' the mornin' to ya! It's Horace here, one day early, to fill in for Mr. Amory, who is out of range today. On his behalf, I will note that this puzzle was very segmented, with five separate solving zones, some of which - for me - fell quite a bit faster than others.


I dropped in MALLCOP at 1A (Official on a Segway, maybe), and then got LITRE (4D: Petrol measure) and CLEO (5D: Role for Liz in '63), which led to ENERO (19A: When Día de los Reyes is celebrated), and ETAILER (15A: Merchant with tiny shopping carts) (meh), and that was that. VERE (23A: Edward Fairfax ____, "Billy Budd" captain) was a complete unknown, but it just had to be. (See also: RENE (47A: ____ Belbenoît, noted escapee from Devil's Island), STARR (28D: Edwin with the 1970 #1 hit "War"), and LOUELLA (36D: Parsons of old Hollywood gossip).)

Luckily, I was listening to a lot of k.d. lang in the 1990's, so CONSTANTCRAVING was a gimme with those first three letters. Unluckily, I tried "raw sienna" (yes, I know, it's "burnt sienna" and "raw umber"...) at 34A: Reddish orange (TANGERINE), which really fouled up that middle section. As did my decision to leave elCID in place for far too long!

In the SW corner, I was really hoping that 35D: Where drones return (AIRBASE) was talking about bees instead of weapons, but oh well.

The right side was much harder for me than the left. I knew I knew the word CAPSTAN (8A: Rotating part of a tape recorder), but it took several crosses before I could dredge it up. (If you ask me, everything about cassette tapes should be forgotten!) And all I could think of was "orecchiete" for 16A: Another name for an ear shell (ABALONE). And speaking of Italian food, did you notice that "spumONI" fit in at 12D: Trattoria dessert (TORTONI)? Hmph.

NOTIT (22A: Playground declaration) brought a smile, as did the tricky KNESSET (40D: Mideast diet). Ever since being burned by that alternate definition of "diet" in a puzzle many years ago, I've been able to think of it when necessary. In stark contrast to my recurring inability to correctly understand the kind of clue used in SILENTT (59A: Depot's terminus?). Every. Single. Time. They get me!

Overall, a fun, somewhat challenging solve. Now it's time for a Guinness! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

- Horace

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018, Robyn Weintraub

6:13 (FWOE)

One-third of my Thursday time! But with a silly error. I guessed ETa, thinking even as I did it that it might be a D, but I never checked back. I wondered about ARRIa. Ah well. At the tournament, I'd have 45 seconds to take a look over and see if I made a mistake, right?

Meanwhile, this puzzle was right on my wavelength in so many different ways. My first answer was 2D: Genetic disorder carried by Queen Victoria (HEMOPHILIA). I recently read a biography of Tsar Nicholas, who was married to Victoria's granddaughter, Alexandra. Their son had hemophilia, which is a horrible disease, by the way. But a gimme for me nonetheless.

SONDHEIM was another immediate gimme, as was CHEVRE (drooling right now...) and LIVER. That whole corner fell in under 30 seconds. 1D: School card (CLASSCLOWN) is going on the list of great clues. I don't think we've added anything to that list for quite some time. [Turns out it was just last week. D'oh!]

Meanwhile, 20D: Mozart title (HERR) is also very good, and I smiled but was not at all fooled by 36A: Port authority? (WINEMAKER).

But seriously, that's not even all. There's a Monty Python reference (KINGARTHUR), an astronomy/Greek mythology reference (CHARON), an acknowledgement of Joe BIDEN's awesomeness.

I have absolutely no complaints except that it was too easy.

- Colum

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thursday, March 15, 2018, Joe DiPietro


I had an incredible amount of difficulty with the NW corner today. Nothing would go in. Stared at it for at least five minutes before getting KEYIN. I'll argue that NUTLIKE is completely out there, while SUPE is rough. And why is 2D: Gut feeling? answered by KNOT? Do people get a knot in their gut? I would never have thought of that. On the other hand, I do appreciate POTTY mouth. I'd wanted mOTor for a while.

So... I guess it's THEIDES of March, huh? In honor, there are four phrases in the long down answers that begin with "I'd". I don't love IDTAKETHAT, which sounds a bit ad hoc. The other three are very strong, with my favorite being IDRATHERNOT.

It was odd to come across ACAIBERRY in the full form, rather than the partial we typically find in the puzzle. I tried TAXevadER at first, which also slowed me down. There were multiple occasions in solving this puzzle where I wondered if a rebus was in play, but sadly no.

How excellent was it that ENSUE crosses ANTECEDE? Not that I'm particularly fond of either answer.

Maybe next weekend I'll drown my sorrows with Horace and Frannie at the ACPT BARSCENE.

- Colum

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Jeff Chen


Mr. Chen has whipped up a quick MARINARA sauce in today's very Wednesday seeming puzzle. I am appreciative that the circles are actually necessary in this puzzle. I wouldn't have been able to find the string of letters I needed to anagram to each ingredient otherwise. As it is, I find onion, tomato, garlic, and herbs in each theme answer.


The theme answers themselves are at least acceptable. HOTOATMEAL feels a little ad hoc, but BARBERSHOP, ZEROINON, and ARTIFICIALGRASS are all strong.

I was slowed by entering MONamour for 5D: "My darling," in France (MONCHERI). Either is reasonable, I think. There are a number of very nice longer answers, such as AEROSMITH, ARGONAUT, and MCHAMMER.

I also very much liked 13A: Pioneering text adventure game (ZORK). I still remember working my way through those games with a good deal of nostalgia.

I imagine some will say that adding "disparagingly" to the clue at 63A will not excuse the use of the word CRETIN in the puzzle. It certainly has a negative connotation, separate from the medical sense of a person deformed by a congenital thyroid deficiency. My initial reaction was that it's a longstanding English word, but then I thought how I'd feel seeing a racist epithet in the grid. OKFINE, I'll join my voice to the chorus.

But maybe we can just all share some SUDS in the SAUNA and acknowledge all the ways Mr. Chen has neatly put in words that end in _SP (TSP, ISP, ASPS).

- Colum

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tuesday, March 13, 2018, Carl Worth


How do you get rid of ENNUI? In my life, you do the NYT xword every day! One thing I would not do however, is POKE a turtle that's withdrawn into its shell. Leave the poor animal alone, say I!

Anyway, like Horace said yesterday, what will they think of next? This a very well executed theme. The revealer, KEYWEST, says it all. The left half of each theme answer phrase (that is the part towards the west of the puzzle) is a standard computer keyboard key.

The four phrases are excellent. My favorite is definitely ESCAPEROOM. I did one of these at the mall for my birthday in 2017. It was not the greatest example, I'm told. For her birthday, Cece and her friends tried one of the really hard local examples, and nearly made it out in one hour. Although I'm hardly a Metallica fan, ENTERSANDMAN is my second favorite theme answer.

There's some Scrabbly goodness in the SE corner, where JAKARTA and ZAPPA cross each other. On the downside, I don't like that ORONO comes after MAINE, so the connection is backwards as you solve. But I do like ADAM symmetrically across from ABEL, and the dual "Zap, in a way" clues are nice as well.

And we're done. SNORT!

- Colum

Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018, John R. O'Brien


Hey, it's Colum again, a new week, and that much closer to ACPT. I am very pleased to have made it under four minutes while solving on paper. I think my training is paying off!

I had one major hiccup: 38D: "Allow me" (ICANHELP). I tried ICANdoit, which I think is closer to the correct interpretation of the quoted phrase, but that cuts no beans when it doesn't fit with the crosses. I looked at 50A: "Star Wars Episode IV" subtitle, where I had ANEWD___ and thought: "There's no way that's 'A New Deal', is there?" Nope, ANEWHOPE, as any redblooded self-respecting American knows.

Before I get to the good stuff, I'm just going to acknowledge three answers whose spelling I was unsure about as I entered them. The first is HADJI. I never know if it's going to be DJ or JJ. Then there was 11D: Blood-related (HEMAL). Yuck. That's just not a real term at all, speaketh the physician. Finally, there is DECA. I just left the third letter blank until I saw the ___K in the crossing answer, and figured it had to be C.

The theme today has to do with ONE EYEd things. SAMMYDAVISJR lost his left eye in a car accident. POLYPHEMUS lost his single eye to Odysseus. The JACKOFSPADES is a classic one-eyed Jack, but does he really not have another eye out of sight? And finally...

Nobody knows how he lost an eye
1A: Parts missing from the Venus de Milo (ARMS) starts the puzzle off with a bang. I also liked GLORIA and SEEGER, and COZEN is a great word as well.

- Colum