Friday, October 30, 2020

Friday, October 30, 2020, Trenton Charlson


Not that it's all about time, but mine is a little slow because I had to finish the puzzle while attending a virtual retirement party. Trying to do two things at once has never been my strength! 

Thanks to those in favor (the AYES), support from over a doorway (LINTEL), and "unprincipled" behavior (AMORAL), I was able to make short work of the southwest, even though I didn't know NERUDA or ELEANOR from the clues. A little bit of MEAD didn't hurt, either. 

The last corner to fall was the south east. Eventually, I was able to dig SILEX out of dusty brain cupboard, which gave me the lovely looking XEROXES, which, in turn,  made it possible for me to get KEANE ("Margaret ___, artist known for painting subjects with big eyes") and JASONFOX ("10-year-old boy of comics with glasses and blond hair"), neither of whom was familiar to me. 

It took longer for me to get DESADE ("'Philosophy in the Bedroom' writner, 1795") than it should have, not because I'm an DeSade expert, but the combination of the date and the title should have clicked sooner. I was also duped for an unnecessarily long time by "Half of Italy" (MEZZO). Derp. 


In between the first and the last, I enjoyed some unusual fill and some fun clues. I liked NODRAMA (Obama), NAZARENE, NATTERS, BRISK, and AMULET. DEITIES looks okay when written horizontally, but it sure looked weird as a Down entry. I liked the clue, "Fine example?" for LATEFEE

I thought the plural of ROOTBEERS for "Floats are often made with them" was a little odd, and while I did get the answer to "Dip for a French dip" (JUS), and I do know what "jus" is, I don't really get the clue, but on the whole, GOODJOB!


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Thursday, October 29, 2020, Kurt Weller


I had an idea of penning my analysis sans symbols barred by 71A's square fillings - a very challenging mission which I quickly gave up on. According to the revealer, the answer NOTNOW, "if read in four pieces" was an aid in solving several clues. I managed to solve the puzzle even though I only partially understood the directive. It all seems so clear in hindsight, but in the race to solve the puzzle as fast as I could (it is my review week), I glossed over the "four pieces" part and understood it as NOT the letters in the word NOW. That was close enough for me to figure out the clues that weren't making sense to me alongside the entries I already had. I did wonder about 12D, though. The clue is "Wrought". Solving it my way, the clue should have been transformed to "rugh", but I could see from the grid that the answer was supposed to be COARSE, so I ignored the problem, finished the puzzle, and mentioned it to Horace. He spelled out the correct reading of 'No T, No W' for me and the fog lifted. It's a clever twist. 

I enjoyed the fact that the revealer didn't reveal exactly which clues needed to be modified, although, it became pretty clear to me after my first passes: the empty squares in my grid were a pretty good indication of where to look. :) I only just realized as I reviewed the puzzle for this review that one of the C/APs that made no sense to me was one of the trick clues: 2D: "Wariest animal" which is apt once you decode it to 'aries animal' (RAM). Apt!


And speaking of PEGASUS, we have a nice HAUL from ancient times with SPARTA, AVE, ARES, and AMO down there in the underworld - with a shout out up high for the HELOTS

Elsewhere in the puzzle I enjoyed "Place in office" (INSTALL), the beautifully misleading "Like all prime numbers besides one" (ODD), and "Sound off?" (MUTE). Fill-wise, I liked DOWSE and SCATHE, though one doesn't often see it as a present tense verb: I scathe, you scathe, we scathe ....

Well, amici, that's my REPORT. Vale.  


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Wednesday, October 28, 2020, Peter Gordon

 23:11, FWOE

It's not Sunday, but I found today's NYT crossword puzzle to be a little like "Men in their 40's," TRICKY COMPLICATEDAND disappointing. That last bit is an addition of my own, caused by the FWOE. Most of the puzzle went very smoothly, but I got into stuck in a right FOGBOW in the northwest corner. There was so much I didn't know, including the quote itself - which I was not expecting to start with two adjectives in a row, that's for sure! I also didn't know REMORA, KVELLED, or YETIS, although the last is quite amusing. But it was 4D: "N.Y.S.E. listing: Abbr." that hit me where it HURT. I couldn't figure out what the clue was going for. I guessed COmP (instead of CORP) and ended up with IMAmET at 18A. The latter didn't seem totally impossible, although upon reflection, I was probably confusing it with the word for lodgings for Mosque leaders. :)

So, yes, to get back to theme, which isn't so much a theme as the second half of a quote attributed to a character named Carrie Bradshaw in the show "Sex and the City." I mention this in case, you, like me, dear reader, somehow missed that boat. Here's the quote in full: "Men in their 40s are like the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle TRICKY COMPLICATEDAND YOURENEVER REALLYSURE YOUGOTHERIGHTANSWER." I can't say I really 'get' the quote, but maybe the ANSWER part makes more sense in the context of the show.  


I very much enjoyed the rest of the puzzle. Several snappy C/AP's jumped out at me even as I solved including "Smart, in a way" (HURT), "Sicken with sweetness (CLOY), "A barb might cause it to deflate" (EGO), "Senate rebuke" (ETTU), "Careful effort" (PAINS), "Go (for)" (RETAIL), and my favorite, "Lyon king" (ROI) - ha! And who doesn't love the word FLOUT

In short tricky, complicated and fun!


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Tuesday, October 27, 2020, Luci Bresette and David Steinberg


Maybe I've spent too much time recently playing Spelling Bee, but today's theme answers reminded me of the game a little bit (emphasis added for emphasis). Each theme clue contains a phrase in all capitals and each corresponding answer uses all and only the letters in that phrase to form answers that are apt vis-a-vis the original phrase. Apt! Is there a word for this particular ILK of letter permutations? I don't know of one, but maybe an example will enrich my anemic prose: 15A: "Apt phrase that uses just the letters of U.S. CAPITOL (POLITICSASUSUAL). Another one, TRAININGSEMINAR drawn from MASTERING was the most apt. I was less sure about the aptness of GETTINGMARRIED for "GRAND TIME" but I suppose everyone's mileage will vary on that front. :)

I think we can all agree, though, that solving the rest of the puzzle was fun. The clues are well-written and entertaining. Here are some of my favorites:

"Hershey's foiled confection" (KISS)

"Help with a holdup" (ABET)

"Sleep disrupter in a fairy tale" (PEA)

"Mascara target" (LASH)


It was nice to see our old friend EEL again, this time decked out in style with the clue "Sinuous fish." And I enjoy the fact that "Candy heart sentiment" (LUV) is common enough to make it a crossword entry. 💖

The puzzle also showcased some classic clue tricks. There were a few nicely ambiguous clues like "Things you might open with a click" (PENS). "Hitch, say" (KNOT), and my favorite, "Feed the kitty" (ANTE). There was also fun with capitals in "Dolphin's home" (MIAMI) and "Lightning Bolt" (USAIN), not to mention a straight up pair of matching clues that get good marks: "Grade upgrade" (PLUS) and "Grade downgrade" (MINUS). 

Fill-wise, I liked TABLELINEN, REALM, and KAPUT. I also like HENCE ("Beginning to a logical conclusion"), but I prefer it as another kind of conclusion in the phrase "get thee" 


Monday, October 26, 2020

Monday, October 26, 2020, Eric Bornstein


Today's theme revealer, "Apt command to an 18-, 28- or 47-Across" (GETCRACKING), applies as aptly to this reviewer as it does to the others in the puzzle: CODEBREAKER, STANDUPCOMIC, and CHIROPRACTOR. I liked the clue for chiropractor (Health professional who has your back?), but my favorite answer is STANDUPCOMIC. I wish wise cracking was the kind of cracking I had to get to, but my job is to crack wise about this puzzle. I'll DRY my best. 

But first, perhaps you are wondering why the theme's exhortation to 'get cracking' is also apt for this reviewer. Well, I'll tell you. Mondays are the one day of the week when I have MUCHACHO to do - one might even say toochacho. In an effort to broaden my horizons during the COVID timez, I signed myself up for an online Chinese class. As chance would have it, the class meets every Monday evening for an hour and a half (without a SPACER!). The fabulous folks behind Boswords 2020 Fall Themeless League also chose Monday night for their festivities. To top it off, Mondays are my one day a week in the office, which requires a focus on on-site activities and materials not to mention DASHES to the office and back. So yeah, Mondays aren't EASY and if I'm EVA going to get this review written, I better apply some ELBA grease!


One might occasionally think of the Monday puzzle as a TRAINER of sorts for the more challenging puzzles later in the week, and as such, I think this one is a MODEL. In addition to the entertaining - and apt! - theme, I SEE solid-but-not-stodgy C/A pairs like "Home made of hides" (TEPEE) and "Headings in a playbill" (ACTS) without a lot that one has to DIGAT. It also contains fun fill like NEXUS, HOODLUM, SKEE, and my favorite, BITTEREND. So, high MARX from this reviewer for a solid Monday puzzle!



Sunday, October 25, 2020

Sunday, October 25, 2020, Peter A. Collins


A Sunday puzzle full of holiday pun! Er, I mean fun. The imagined lines from reviews of a Halloween play were all quite good, I thought. My favorite might have been "... Frankenstein had ____" (AVARIETYOFPARTS). Heh. But "... the skeleton gave a ____" (BAREBONESRENDITION) was also quite nice. 


My favorite part was not the theme, however, it was 21D: "Apt thing to wear during allergy season?" (ASHOE). This clue made me laugh out loud, and it is the first to make me go back into our "Favorite clues" list for quite some time. Really, it MADE my morning. Colum was right yesterday about ABCD (Passing options) being gutsy, but I think this was even better.

But I am not surprised, because Mr. Collins is a veteran constructor. Today he presents a nice mix of straightforward clues ("Number of sides on a hendecagon" (ELEVEN) and "Mortar = sand + water + ____" (CEMENT)) with some fun cleverness ("Final destination, perhaps" (POINTB) and "What you're doing at every moment" (AGING) (Too soon!)). He throws in a double double ("Them's fighting words!" (ENGARDE and ITSWAR) and "Tickled" (PLEASED and GLAD)), and just a few bits of crosswordese for good measure ("As I Lay Dying" father (ANSE) and "Capital of Samoa" (APIA)). 

I've NARY a complaint. It's a fine end to what was, overall, quite a good week. Frannie takes over tomorrow, and I'll see you in a few.

- Horace

p.s. Not that I think anyone actually could this year, but I'll say it anyway. Don't forget to vote!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Saturday, October 24, 2020, Byron Walden


This was a struggle, which is always welcome on a Saturday, but it wasn't as satisfying to finish as they sometimes are.

Muralla de AVILA

I started by dropping in RAZORSHARP (Superquick on the uptake), which made me feel superquick on the uptake :), and that led to an ORGY of quick answers in the NW. Then in the NE, CREME ( ____ fraîche) (delicious), ENT (Suffix with insist), and TAKE (Word with hot or spit) were GIMMEs, and they led to URBANAREA (Home to about 4 in 5 Americans, per the census), but not much else.

My favorite clue was "Digital access points" (FINGERTIPS). That's a great non-QMC. At first I didn't love "Intellectual property?" (IVORYTOWER), but looking at it now, several hours after solving, I have softened on it. 

The tens in the SE - SAYITPROUD, INEVIDENCE, and STREETFAIR - are all solid, but I didn't like the SW nearly as much. "Pileup after digging a hole" for DEBT seemed a little arbitrary. I just don't think of the expression "digging a hole" as pertaining to spending. Perhaps some do. And BREECHING (Going from petticoats to pants, once) might have once been a thing, but I don't feel that it was a very well-known thing, and it seems like "dresses" would have been more accurate than "petticoats." Likewise AGETOAGE (Eternally, in religious parlance) seemed a bit "meh."

I don't know ... maybe I just caught a BADBOUNCE. I hope you liked it better than I.

- Horace