Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday, October 17, 2017, Jeff Chen


Today's theme targeted a bunch of saps. We get PIGEON, CHUMP, SUCKER, and MARK at the start of three common expressions, and one name. Chump and Sucker are great sounding words, even though one wouldn't want to hear them applied personally.

It seemed a little LOCA to have the revealer be the people who target mugs (CONMEN) rather than the mugs themselves. I also thought it was a little odd to have the revealer as a down, while the theme answers were all acrosses. Have we had that before? Also, does UCONN count as theme material?

I raise my isinglass to 1A Flaky mineral (MICA) and give it a solid a B+.  Other nice fill I draw your ATTN to includes SPORE (15A), GENT (16A), VOODOO (10D), EROICA (11D), ANTONYMS (4D), LIPSYNC (5D), USURPS (45D), and UNDEROOS (37D) because wearing Underoos is fun.

My least favorite today is IBANKER (Pro at building financial worth, slangily). Other entries I had a slight AVERsion to include APCALC (9D), OAS (53D), and BNEG (54D).

Don't take any wooden nickels.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017, Jennifer Nutt


There were plenty of good fish in this sea. Today we found ORCA "swimming" in four substantial theme answers. I especially liked LIQUORCABINET, but RADIATORCAP is also tops. With a KILLERWHALE every where you look, Elizabeth II had better forget about NESSie and watch herself around the fountains at WINDSORCASTLE.

And speaking of Elizabeth, it was nice that Elizabeth I, last of the TUDORS, could cross paths with her old haunt again, even it is in only in puzzledom. ASCOT and ERMINE elsewhere in the puzzle added to the royal ambiance. There was also quite a bit of SWEET, OLDE timey fill including FIB, MOXIE, AGUE, and BIER, while SLAW, BONGO, and POPS kept it hip. I enjoyed a number of other answers, too, like CODEWORDS, FILET, and TOKEN.


In the department of clues that could use some AID, I'll ENTER MSDEGREE (Common grad sch. credential). Its partner, GRE, notwithstanding, most of the rest of the three-letter answers were AOK.

But, to go out on a high note, I will now belt out the chorus of BALI Ha'i. Good times.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday, October 15, 2017, John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins

Wise Move

OHHI. Frannie here, back to reporting on her own puzzle solving experience.

Today's puzzle title was an apt description of the trick of the theme answers. Apt! The "y" at the end of the first word of a common expression moved to the end of the second word to create new expressions like JUICEPARTIES (Social gatherings where fruit drinks are served?) instead of juicy parts and COUNTFAIRIES (Take attendance in a magical forest?) instead of county fairs. GROCERSTORIES (Things swapped at a convention of supermarket owners?) was my favorite. The clue for 23A (Interns at a cemetery?) caused me to notice that interns and inters differ by only one letter. Weird.

I have two top entries today: 55A Sounded sheepish? BLEATED - ha! And, 62A Routine problem, for short - with no question mark! - OCD.

Other good fill included:
41A. Work at, as a trade (PLY)
105A Euphoric *and* GIDDY - both nice words
88D. Spacious and splendid (PALATIAL)

In other puzzle solving news, I finally looked up SDS (New Left org.), which has appeared in a number of puzzles recently, and which I entered each time without any idea what this new group was up to. Well, dear readers, I've been parsing the clues all wrong. Turns out, new modifies Left. Who knew?

94D Ones holding down things? (EIDERS) had me confused for a long time, despite the fact that my favorite bird is the common eider for it's down-producing abilities. Nice twisty clue.

100D Early record label turned out to be EDISON, and, as chance would have it, I visited my second cousin this afternoon and he showed me two cases full of early Edison cylinder recordings. Art really does imitate life.

I was able to drop in NEON at 122A (Fifth-most abundant element in the universe) because I just learned that fact when I was reading about noble gases, featured in the puzzle on October 10, 2017. Thank you Mr. MacLachlan.

SPLURGE and MINTY are both great words. And who doesn't like a CHEEZIT?


There was some fill that didn't RESONATE with me:
1A M.I.T. Sloan grad, often (MBA) - gets my vote for Most Boring Acronym.
29D Over-and-above (ADDED) - brought nothing to the table.
32D Diminutive suffixes ETTES - brought massive sufferage.
40D Some feet (IAMBI) - a fine, question mark-less clue, but iambI? IDARESAY that terminal I is not what solvers wanted to see there.
47A. Have-not (NEEDER) - groan.
112A Homie (MAINMAN) - not a constructor's best friend.
83A Nozzles into blast furnaces (TUYERES) - I think you'd have to be a real SMARTPANTIES to get that one.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday, October 14, 2017, Sam Ezersky

For today's review, I submit live commentary from our esteemed Colum Amory as he solves the puzzle in person across the table from me. It's as faithful a recording as I could make because I can't type as fast as he can solve.

1D, I entered AXEL. I think I've got 1D wrong already. Unlikely that a TV Series title starts with an X.  It might be LUTZ. I want 1A to end with LAB. 7D - I want it to be stayedin but it won't fit.

Prime minister between Barak and Olmert was SHARON. Impolite sound might be a snort. Base 10 = LOGARITHM. So, not snort. Must be SLURP.

"Real name of Green Hornet. Don't know it. What you're solving informally (24A) XWORD. Person known as the Jezebel of Jazz. Lovely epithet but I don't know who that is. Longest song on Dark Side of the Moon, not Time and not Money. Don't know it. 36D is Next GEN. 39A Tough is THUG. Atmosphere is AURA. It must be ANITA, but ANITA who? Question after an interruption. WHERE/WASI. USANDTHEM is the name of the of the song. So the source of the whirlwind quote is HOSEA. Jesus (interjected by Frannie). 14D Slams. I don't know. I put the S in. Why not?

I'm stuck over there so I'm moving to another area. I think it's a hidden capital. Lab wear must be SMOCK (I love that word - Frannie). Warner BROS - we do not like that. Many a B school applicant. ECONMAJOR. CA's wife helped out with that one. Like snow en Argentina. I want it to be rare, but that's not right. It must be a Spanish word. CLIMBS for Shins. I like that actually (I don't, says Frannie). Klondike product. Something TACO. Oh yes, CHOCOTACO. Idol group: MOB. TYRABANKS must be the one who popularized smizing. What does that even mean? No one knows. Oh, snow en Argentina is BLANCA. IC door . Oooh, magICDOOR. Fires (up). Don't know. I'll put the S in. I think MRS. Woodrow Wilson is EDITH. So, it is PEPS. Maybe. Browsers aids. CACHES. Weird. It does aid you according to Horace. Quickens things up. AMOCO must be Exxon competitor. So it's DODO for Dum dum. I don't like it. Nero, by all accounts. Aggh. I'm stuck again. DNF suggests HF. Like a paperclip. I want to say BENT. Maybe it is. Maybe it's BOZO instead of DODO. ATTICDOOR. OK. Knock over is AMAZE. Oh EGOMANIAC for Nero. See ya is PEACE. I like that a lot. SACHS I've never hear of him. Goldman Sachs? suggests HF. Colum's wife helped with SUMOMATCH. ATEST not again. I hate that. MAGUS. You dropped that right in? Well I had the US. ANITA I still don't know who it is. ODAY. Ate in. ATEATHOME. China arrangement TEASET. I liked that one. They're not generic: NAMEBRANDS. That one is quietly nice. I'm stuck in this top right corner. Over. It's not agape. Oh. AGAIN. And PANS for slams. That makes sense. Symbol of the National Audubon Society is EGRET, right? Abandon plans in modern slang. Bail? I don't know. Wizard of Oz farm hand might be Pete. Might be Gene. Maybe EGRETS wrong. I'm going to take EGRET out. Place where analysis is done. Therapy? Half an 1990 telecom merger. Might by NYNEX. That would be something. Oh, it's UGLYBETTY. It is EGRET. LEFTBRAIN. It is LUTZ of all things. TRAPQUEEN never heard of it. 17:12.

Post solve commentary:
LEFTBRAIN, I'm happy with that, although it's probably not actually true. NAMEBRANDS is very good. TEASET I liked a lot. A Fetty Wap # 2 hit from 2015 is pretty far out there for knowledge expectation. The puzzle is Scrabble-y(tm) - a bunch of x's and z's and a j. BAJAN is my least favorite. ELECT (Give a seat) was excellent. OVER is a tough one. Above and ended both fit, but are not right. HOSEA and REID are both tough. Some liked Pit-y party (BBQ) and some didn't. All agreed on not liking REUNES.

A good solid puzzle.

~Submitted by Frannie.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017, Zhouqin Burnikel


I thought this one played pretty easy for a Friday, as you can tell from my time. Perhaps IMALONE in this, but I doubt it.  When I got to 23A (They're seen going south in the fall) I didn't enter GEESE right away because I thought it was too obvious and I must be missing something, but I wasn't. A number of other clues also seemed like gimmies, such as 65A What a laryngitis sufferer may do (WHISPER), 39D Like milk you shouldn't cry over (SPILT),  6D Big no-no at a T.S.A. checkpoint (KNIFE), and 33D Awesome (GREAT). I thought that adding (in two senses) to Person in a trailer at 28A (ACTOR) added some fun, but it practically gave the answer away.

Another possible reason for the relatively easy solve is that there while there is a lot of not what we normally call crosswordese in the grid, there is a bit of familiar fill like EULER, TENOR, OREIDA, and SINEW.


Enough with the LOWS. My favorite of the six long answers was WENTBERSERK. It was a nice twist to have Egyptian charm turn out to be SCARAB - a thing not normally associated with charm. In this vein, we find the very nice 48A Opposite of downs (SIPS). Other fine clues were Port vessel (CASK), Not standing, in a way (ADHOC), 43A Things worth waiting for (TIPS) - ha! I also liked both Blather and HOTAIR (47D), although I really don't. 


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017, Alex Eaton-Salners

FWOA (finished with one assist)

Today's theme really tested my metal. As it happened, my mined wasn't quite up to the feet. At 9D I had SCOUTs___ for a long spice, but I could not come up with OATH, possibly because I never was a Scout. I might have gotten to OATH if I had been able to get 43A. Wring. Coming up with the homonym ring was no problem, but for some reason I couldn't pick up on ring as in phone. I circled around and around other types of rings with no success. Insufficient cranial DEXTERITY after last night's late night on the town. I finally asked Horace what it was so I could finish the puzzle and get going on the revue. Dough!

The theme is clever, unusual as far as my experience goes, and includes some good material. My favorite is MOBILIZED for Mustard (16A). I also liked Lodes for Loads ALOT, GLIMMER for Re/ray, and Flea/flee/ESCAPE.

Among the downs, there was also some nice fill. I liked BISTRE in particular. You don't see that word every day. And ETTU (Classical rebuke). 15D. One for whom work is play? (ACTOR) and 54D. Priest from on high? (LAMA) were cute.

Today' theme reminded me of a story I read when studying language and linguistics in my salad days. It's called "Ladle Rat Rotten Hut" by H. L. Chace. I recommend it.

English Language

It was a tall order to make all the across answers floe, so it's not surprising that some theme material wasn't so grate, or did it? I thought the synonymity of sum answers was a little off including Cents/sense/IDEA, Bate/bait/TRAP, Hoes/hose/TUBE, and Chute/shoot/DART. And, perhaps because I do like RYES, I found the clue Lickers a bit off putting. :)

I was also troubled by DRYROTS at 23D. I'm not sure if that's meant to be a plural noun or a verb. That tree dry rots every year. We must find a way to stop the dry rots.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wednesday, October 11, 2017, David J. Kahn


The puzzle theme features an acceptable round-up of synonyms for OK (WELL, JAKE, FINE, FAIR) in a circular formation at the center of the grid. At the edges, we find some supporting characters including DOCHOLLIDAY and IKECLANTON who people the GUNFIGHTAT THEOKCORRAL.

I liked the fill words WILLOWY, GONAVY, MONIKER, and MIMOSA. Huygens probably likes MAKEOUT, despite the clue, Detect.

There are a few entries in the SNARLER category today. My least favorite answer was SALUTER (Private, often, 22D). I didn't know ARB (Wall St. trader), and I will try to forget it again as soon as I can. I am giving 1A. MACAO a D.

Are we allowed to say BANANA Republic?