Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015, Susan Gelfand

0:06:10

Frannie and I enjoyed the theme today. It's the ol' "last name plus verb to make compound noun" game, and it's done well here. PRICETAGS (33A: Opera singer scrawls graffiti) might have been a little better if it had worked in Vincent Price instead of Leontyne Price, but what are you going to do? The image of either with a spray paint can in their hand is absurd. In fact, maybe Ms. Gelfand is right - Vincent Price might actually have done it, but Leontyne...? well, I doubt it. She also gets points for the image of Francis Bacon slowly undoing that ruff collar and flinging it into the audience. (BACONSTRIPS (53A: Philosopher removes his clothes?)). (A little something for Huygens?)

In addition to the fine theme, there are some lovely little triple-seven stacks in the NE and SW. OBELISK (10D: Bunker Hill Monument, for one) (YAY Boston!), MANATEE (11D: Everglades mammal), and ANSWERS (12D: They cross in a crossword) (YAY self-referential clue!) are all quite nice. And ACROBAT (36D: Trapeze artist, e.g.), BRAVADO (37D: Impressive show of courage) and BETACAM (38D: Early Sony recorder) are marred only by the commerciality of that last one.

Additionally, SNIPPETS (20D: Tiny excerpts) is fresh, and STASIS (46D: Equilibrium), ORIENTS, DIPLOMA, and ABALONE (2D: Ornamental shell source) are all solid. And it's nice to see GAZELLE (25D: Graceful antelope) running right down the middle of the grid, because that was Frannie's bike of choice while she was "Springing" in the Netherlands this year. It's hard to find a Gazelle dealer in the U.S. If you've got a lead on one, please let us know!

So anyway, this was pretty damn good. I don't particularly love NOI (57A: "____ don't!") (couldn't it have been clued with Italian somehow?), and SERIO (46A: Prefix with comic) is not good, but for the most part, I liked this one a lot.

- Horace

p.s. Handing off to Colum tomorrow. See you in August!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015, Todd Gross and Andrea Carla Michaels

0:04:49

I started out kind of slowly in this one, but once I got to the middle, I put in almost every Across answer immediately, and, well, then it was over. Now let's see if I can figure out the theme... Aha! It's a progression from "crawler" to "flyer!" Lovely. We start with my old favorite search engine WEBCRAWLER (17A: Bot that systematically browses the internet) ("browses" might be pushing it), then we get to ALICEWALKER (28A: "The Color Purple" novelist), then BLADERUNNER (48A: 1982 Harrison Ford sci-fi film), and finally RADIOFLYER (64A: Classic red wagon). I like it. I like it a lot. Four perfectly normal entries combined in a sensible, interesting, and fun way.

And for that we pay the toll of TINTER (13D: Dye specialist), DACCA (4D: Capital of Bangladesh, old-style), SROS (62D: B'way hit signs), REPACK (11D: Prepare to go home from vacation, say) (too soon!), and... let's see... maybe YAH (33A: "Boo" follower, in a triumphant shout).

On the non-theme plus side, however, we've got EMERALDS, EMBARKED, SERGEANT (not abbreviated!), ETCETERA (ditto!), KEMOSABE, VERBOSE (46D: Wordy), and URBANE (51D: Polite and refined). That's a lot of great, middle-length stuff right there.

Good start to the week!

- Horace

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015, Jeremy Newton

GETTING IN THE FINAL WORD

From the get-go this thing was looking good. UNJAM is a tricky answer for "1A: Free, as copies." CAUSE (18A: Gay rights, e.g.) is timely. NAGNAGNAG (23A: "Geez, get off my back already!" is fresh and fun, GLOBE (6A: Small world?) is cute… and we haven't even come to the theme yet, which is also excellent.
To many, I think, cross-referenced clues are often hit or miss, but here, the cross-referenced theme is actually made up of words that cross each other, and it took us a little while to really understand the full glory of it all. With the first set - 3D: With 18-Across, "To be on the safe side …" I spent a few seconds thinking about it and saw the combination of "JUST" and "CAUSE" and I thought … "ok, 'just cause,' that's something..." But when I had to put 13D: Unlikely butchers (VEGANS), with 30A: With 13-Down, shorthand pact for a wild trip (WHATHAPPENS), I came up with "What happens vegans," which didn't make a lot of sense. Eventually I realized that "Just cause" was really JUST in CASE, and "what happens vegans" was WHATHAPPENS in VEGAS! For the theme, you have to just picture the one word ramming through the other and breaking it into two parts, but the really great thing is that the broken word also works with the letter ramming through it! Beautiful. Let's do one more - "52A: With 49-Down, 1995 Oscar-nominated Pixar theme song" isn't a tribute to Mr. Szyslak, (49D: Good name for a lawn care guy? (MOE) - hah!), but YOUVEGOTAFRIEND in ME. Nice.

OK, so I liked it. What else… I immediately thought of "ephemeral" for 12D: Not here for long, but the real answer was an even better word (and the correct length!) - EVANESCENT. OPIUMDEN (36D: Smoke-filled establishment) was surprising. 102D: Off-color (BAWDY) and SPURT should make Huygens GOAPE. ECLECTIC (107A: Diverse), POUNCE (93A: Not let a big opportunity slip by, say), and TOWNDRUNK (114A: Stock character like Maybery's Otis) are all nice.

Sure, there's a nice crosswordese crossing at SSTS and STYE… I've never heard of PERL (93D: Physics Nobelist Martin, discoverer of the tauon) or ELMO (99A: Admiral Zumwalt), and I'd say AVE (20A: Hello from Hadrian) is more of a "goodbye" and "salve" is more of a "hello," but maybe I've just been using those wrong… and really, that small amount of barely questionable material is a small price to pay for a Sunday this good. Let's end on a couple more good ones - 89A: Guard at a gated community? (STPETER) and 121A: Age-old bug trap (AMBER). Good stuff!

- Horace

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015, Tim Croce

1:05:46

Frannie and I worked on this together, and we were astonished to hear the music when we dropped in the second O in FOOTE (4D: "The Young Man From Atlanta" Pulitzer winner, 1995). I actually kind of got it accidentally, because I was thinking maybe Shelby Foote got a late Pulitzer, but  no... it was Horton Foote. Anyway, we weren't familiar with the RICOACT (17A: Mob law?), and Frannie had come up with "RIotACT," which we both loved, so it was hard to let that one go. Of course, NBCNEWS (3D: "Dateline" group) didn't work as NBoNEWS.


Let's talk about the good stuff first. RAGEQUIT (8D: Leave an online game in a huff) is excellent, and nearly worth the price of admission. OINKED (42A: Was piggish, say) was funny. BASSALE (24D: Its logo was the U.K.'s first registered trademark) is some excellent trivia, and 1D: What an ace is rarely seen on (PARFIVE) was great, once I finally got it!

But there are also some troubling spots. My least favorite entry was HITAT (54A: Try to swipe). If it had been clued as "try to hit" and answered by "swipe at" I would have liked it more. As it is, it doesn't make sense to me. Colum, who happens to be visiting today, explained SASE (50A: Slush pile item, for short) by telling us that a "slush pile" is the pile of unsolicited manuscripts sent to an editor. DESTINE (40D: Foreordain) is stretching things. You mostly just see "destined" or "destiny." It looks odd in that form. And another thing, I don't love PONYCAR (62A: Mustang, e.g.). Is that a thing? And who is EAZYE?

But that was the worst corner, and overall, I enjoyed the challenge of this puzzle. I was just saying to Frannie today that I love that we can still have so much trouble with a puzzle. I mean, we looked at this over coffee. Then looked at it again mid-morning. Then had to put it down and look at it again, with another coffee, before at last we figured out 1D and finally put this thing to bed.

Whew! I'll give it a thumbs up, but I won't overly ENTHUSE about it.

- Horace

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015, Erin Rhode

0:22:54

IMATALOSS to come up with criticisms to level at a puzzle that begins with MANSPLAIN (1A: Patronizingly point out, in modern lingo). Hardly anything HITANERVE (58A: Touched on something touchy), and several clues/answers made me smile. I guess sometimes you can HAVEITALL (32D: What many career women strive to do).

Well, ok, if forced to TAKEAnoteherLOOK, I could, perhaps, quibble with ODESA (46A: City south of Kyiv), but even then, it's interesting to see that alternate spelling for Kiev. But if all I have to concede is that - and, OMG, STERE (21A: Firewood unit) (WTF?) - ... and are we going to complain about IVSOYER, or ALTE (51D: ____ Sprachen (ancient languages: Ger.) (Ach!)? NO! I will not be PROTEAN in this review! Wait, am I already? Well, in response, I can only say SORRYIMNOTSORRY.



Other good stuff included 6D: Spitting image in the Andes? (LLAMA), 31D: Locale of some Swiss banks (RHINE), 40A: Space race? (EWOKS), and 24A: Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" (GALE). That's some good trivia, there! Frannie, the linguist, was exited by NASALCONSONANTS, but she was split on NSA, because while she loves metadata, she does not love illegal wiretapping.

I did not recognize the name Erin Rhode (isn't it funny how long it took to come up with RHODE given the clue "31A: ____ Island?" No? You didn't have that problem?...) so I looked at xwordinfo (a site I highly recommend... it's right over there on the sidebar!) and lo and behold this is her first puzzle! Very impressive debut, in my opinion.

- Horace

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thursday, June 23, 2015, David Poole

0:16:53

I got the lead out pretty quick on this one. BRUCELEE (9D: Kato potrayer in "The Green Hornet") went in immediately, and I wanted LI[PB]ALM for "10D: Blistex products" but, of course, it didn't fit, so I put in "LIP" and left it at that. KEATS (12D: "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever" poet), too, went in immediately, so when I came to 19A: Optimistic (U[PB]EAT), well, that was it. Well, except for the revealer, LEADBELLY (61A: Legendary guitarist ... or a hint to eight answers in this puzzle), which took me several crosses. It's not that I haven't heard of him, but perhaps it's that I don't really think of him as so much a "legendary guitarist" as I do a "legendary folk singer." Still, nice revealer. It might have been better if the "bellies" had been dead-center in the answers, or if the revealer had included the rebus somehow, but one can't have everything, can one.


In other news... there is a severe lack of BRASSERIEs (31D: Restaurant that might serve steak frites) in this country... but I suppose they must be referring to the ones that are here, because overseas it might be harder to find "steak frites," whatever those are, at a brasserie. And speaking of indulging, OVEREATER was nicely clued with "11D: One taking extra courses?" I suppose some will argue with the question mark there, and I will not argue with those arguing. 

The North is abbreviation-heavy, and BELG seems an odd abbreviation for Belgium, but the rest are common enough. GOOP coming out of the PEEPER is gross, as is SCAB. And does 4D: Mea culpa" really mean APOLOGY nowadays? Hmm... after a quick perusal of online sources, I guess it sort of does, but it still feels odd to me. 

As you can maybe sense, I didn't fully love this one. I always enjoy a rebus, but there were just little things (and big things, like INANEST) that rubbed me the wrong way. I loved 49D: Like M, L or XL, but not S (ROMAN), and 59D: Adam's apple site? (EDEN), though, and the other stuff I already mentioned, so let's give it a thumb's up overall.

- Horace

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015, Ian Livengood and J.A.S.A. Crossword Class

0:09:35

I like the FIVESTAR theme today, even though I've never heard of THE PIERRE (17A: Luxury hotel overlooking Central Park). It was familiar to Frannie once she got a few crosses, but I'm more of a Motel 6 kind of guy, I guess.


INSTATE (20A: Like some cheaper tuition) is a decent answer (I'm the son of a state school teacher), but it's a little odd and didn't come easily. Also, 2D: Puts the brakes on (INHIBITS) doesn't seem an exact match, so that was tricky, too. And lastly, in the NW, Frannie and I both would have preferred "Incan" to INCA for 14A: Quechua speaker, but that, of course, would not have fit.

On the other hand, we both liked FEEBLE (21A: Weak), which Frannie says is a word that sounds feeble. SCRAPE (41D: Predicament), BORNE (24D: Shouldered), SCENARIO (3D: Plot outline), and ANTEATER (9D: "B.C." animal that goes ZOT!) (somebody at the NYT really loves Johnny Hart!), too, were all good. As for TRUETHAT (34D: "I agree"), Frannie says: "'True dat,' or forget it."

Didn't love PARER or FADERS, and Frannie dislikes any mention of UGGS, but that's more of a personal thing. I guess it was kind of Wednesdayish. Is that a thing? Can we make that a thing?

- Horace




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015, Jules P. Markey

0:08:30

Hello Mr. Markey!* A very nice theme, and tribute, to the "Road Movies" of HOPEANDCROSBY (24A: The film's headliners). Eighty theme squares is a lot, and they are everywhere, making this one almost all about the theme. So much theme puts the grid in a bit of a stranglehold, and leaves us with crosswordese like ANIS, ANIL, OPES, and EDDA. We also get the unfortunate ALINED (42D: In a row: var.), and the unfamiliar (to me, anyway) YODER (29D: Wisconsin v. ____ (Landmark 1972 case on religious freedom)). My last square was the O in that name, where it crosses AON (32A: Get an ____ (ace)), which took me a long while to understand.


Still, even with all the theme constrictions, there are several non-theme downs that I enjoyed. TUNDRA (5D: Much Arctic land) (for now!), BAYOU (28D: Louisiana inlet), and ACTUAL (23D: Real). MITTEN (35D: Hand warmer) and COPCAR (38D: Black-and-white) did not come to me quickly, and call me crazy, but I almost liked MMCCC (39D: The year 2300) for its craziness. If it had had a slightly more amusing clue I would have actually liked it. :)

Don't tell Frannie, but I can't say I've ever seen more than a clip or two of any Hope & Crosby movie. Still, though, they are classics, and I am impressed by this "double-theme." Sometimes, if the theme is enough - especially in an early-week grid - you can give the fill a lot of leeway. I think that's the case here.

- Horace


* I met Mr. Markey briefly at breakfast at the NCPT this year. I spoke with him, as I did with some other constructors, about the problem of getting to know them at all, because I feared that it would be difficult to be completely objective about their puzzles after meeting them in person. They all told me that they don't mind constructive criticism, but they did not particularly like diatribes that felt more like personal attacks. We have tried to be level-headed over here at Frannie & Horace & Colum, and I hope that comes across.

p.s. Our friend Huygens will certainly love this puzzle, as he and his wife will be on the road to Bali in less than a year! Qatar yesterday, Bali today... what's left for tomorrow? Perhaps you should be on the lookout for your next exotic destination!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Monday, June 22, 2015, Joel Fagliano

0:07:11

I did not realize, until long after doing the puzzle, what the theme was. I shouldn't probably admit this, since it shows how out of touch I am with most things current and modern, but when I was solving, I did noticed that all the theme answers began with "ATT..." but I failed to understand that it was really representing "@T..." and mimicking a Twitter handle. EVEN THOUGH IT SAID IT IN THE FIRST CLUE. Wow. What a maroon.

That lack of understanding might account for my slow time, which, thanks to a new app feature, I can say is slower than normal, but it did not diminish my appreciation for this fine grid. Six ATT words, all cutely clued. My favorite was 53A: Good Twitter handle for a eulogist? (ATTRIBUTE), but 17A: ... for a seductress?" (ATTEMPTING) was also good.

Where this grid really shines, though, is in the long downs. Eight clues over seven letters, the weakest of which is ALITTLE (43D: Not much), and the strongest being hard to decide upon. CATACLYSM (6D: Large-scale disaster) is a front runner, but TAXIDERMY (35D: Professional stuff?) could edge it out based on the clue.


STATEFAIRS (10D: Events with Ferris wheels and livestock competitions) is perfectly timed. Frannie and I saw one that had suddenly popped up in a roadside field as we drove west yesterday, and marveled at their persistence. It's kind of nice to think of the tradition still carrying on.

So although the West got a little iffy with OTRA, GRATA, and SANTO, there's plenty of good stuff holding this one together. I call it an especially good Monday.

- Horace

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015, Timothy Polin

CLIMBING THE CORPORATE LADDER

This was, for me, a hard Sunday puzzle to get a handle on. The grid was more than half filled in by the time I figured out the "Corporate Ladder" trick with TRUEF/ALSET/ESTS (34A: Exams that students get F's on?) First of all, the apostrophe surprises me in the clue, and second, isn't it more that they put Fs on the test, and don't necessarily get Fs on them? It strikes me as a LOGI/CALFA/LLACY (118A: Part of an unsound argument). And although I thought immediately of Epiphany when confronted with the clue "62A: Annual celebration on January 6," it wasn't until much, much later that I finally realized that what they wanted was THRE/EKIN/GSDAY. Does anyone call it that? Assuming that they are aware of it at all, that is?



The last square I filled in was the X of SILEX (24A: Ingredient in glassmaking) and SEXOLOGY (9D: Study for a Masters?). Very tough cross, there. On the one hand, who has ever heard of silex, and on the other, who remembers, or even knows about, the research done by Masters and Johnson, which began in the fifties? Sheesh!

Despite all that ranting, I didn't HATE (71A: Give a zero-star review, say) the puzzle. I like that the corporate clues work both backwards and forwards, and there were many entertaining and/or interesting bits in the fill. Put HOLYWATER (35A: Liquid harmful to vampires), HOUSEBOAT (13D: Mobile home), and FAMILIAL (53A: Coming down the line?) in the entertaining group, and HANNIBAL (82D: General defeated by Scipio, ending the second Punic war), IDLEHANDS (97A: The devil's workshop, as the saying goes), and THEARTIST (65A: First silent film to win "Best Picture" since "Wings) into the "interesting" camp. I also enjoyed INSTEP (70A: Arch locale), PENNYANTE (80A: Piddling), INSIDIOUS (75D: Sneaky), INFLUENZA (3D: Something caught in the air), and, of course, BENSON (93D: "Soap" spinoff). It was Frannie who knew that one!

Some tricky stuff, a few groaners (SEALERS, I'm looking at you), but overall, a good, challenging Sunday with a cool theme.

- Horace

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saturday, June 19, 2015, Kyle T. Dolan

0:41:42

Frannie and I solved this "together" on two different devices, talking back and forth about various clues as we sat on our sunny, breezy, front porch sipping espressos this morning. It sounds ironic, perhaps, after that last sentence, to say that neither of us particularly enjoys the phrase WINATLIFE (1A: Be successful, well-liked, etc.). And we don't watch "Game of Thrones," so TARTH (10A: Brienne of ____, "Game of Thrones" protagonist) was a complete unknown. Frannie knew AMINOACID (15A: Glutamine, e.g.), so that helped get going in that NW corner. Did you know that a wooly bear caterpillar freezes solid through the winter?!? Isn't life just so weird sometimes? And doesn't that remind you of "Catcher in the Rye," when that cab driver tells Holden that the fish "live right in the goddam ice?" Well... it does me.

Although I have remembered that fictional discussion with a cab driver for about 35 years, I did not correctly remember that OREGON was the "54A: Subject of the campaign slogan "Fifty-four forty, or fight!" I guessed "Alaska," which, unfortunately, fit. Frannie knew HORUS (59A: Egyptian god of war) immediately, and eventually sussed out NULLS and STYLE, leaving us with "...HNS" at the end of 38D: Capital of Antigua and Barbuda. It looked bad at first, but then we got ST at the beginning, and suddenly STJOHNS went right in. It's always fun when that kind of thing happens. You end up with horrible-looking letter combinations that turn out to be exactly right. Heh.

So anyway, another answer I really wanted to be right was "Vaders" for "30D: Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, e.g." And yes, I know, they're Skywalkers, but couldn't they have taken their father's new name? And no, the "e.g." doesn't really work either in that situation. OK, ok, that was an idea I had when I looked at the puzzle after midnight last night after HAVEinghadABEERortwoorthree... REBELS is fine.

Favorite word today - TRAIPSE.

Fun Saturday.

- Horace

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015, Martin Ashwood-Smith

0:19:04

Horizontal symmetry allows for just a single quadstack from Mr. Ashwood-Smith, but he makes the most of it with four very nice 15s. They are crossed by some excellent material, and some not so excellent. That's often the case, but here, I think, the excellent wins out. ASAMI harkens back to yesterday's "Sami people" clue, and AREI, while odd-looking, is at least a reference to Robert Frost, so that's nice (53D: "Whose woods these ____ think ... ": Frost). MISADAPT is the outlier in the "over 5-letter" set, but OPALESCENT (27D: Like moonstones) (a gimme, btw), MANIACAL (35D: Like lunatics' laughter), and CAFEAULAIT (28D: Light brown) (Tough clue!) were all quite good.


A couple names allowed me to get into this quickly, but ARLENEDAHL (11D: "Journey to the Center of the Earth" actress) was not one of them. The other actress in the NE, ANGELINA (8D: Brad's partner in 2005's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith") was, as was ORWELLIAN (23A: Like newspeak and  doublethink). That was a plusgood clue!

The East was where I ended today. I tried "KNot" for a while where the much-less-common KNAR (29D: Bump on a log) belonged, and NAN (48A: ____ A. Talese) (not Gay) was not at all familiar to me. The crosses were fair, though, and the music played, so all's well that ends well, right?

Overall, an enjoyable Friday morning romp.

- Horace

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015, Jason Flinn

0:27:09

This theme is almost mind-blowing in its complexity. At first, I thought it was inconsistent, because I thought it odd that "mortal sin" was misspelled in MORTALSYNONYM (39A: Deadly or human). But then I realized that "toponym" and "metonym" are actual words, and that the secondary formations of "mountain top," "black ant," and so on, are just icing on the cake. It's beautiful, really.



That said, I almost don't care what the fill is, but it's still quite good. SPARERIB (34D: Part of a rack) (I'm sure Huygens was thinking of something else here), MONSOON (38D: Rainmaker?), ANTIOCH (5D: Third-largest city of the Roman Empire) (almost impossible to get off the clue, but interesting trivia nonetheless), LOOPHOLE (9D: Something exploited by a tax adviser), and RANTRACK (4D: Was a high school sprinter, say) (I put this in with no crosses) are all good. I had never before heard the name ALEK (18D: Model ____ Wek), and LTYR, NAT, and REDYES (40D: Changes the locks again?) aren't that great, but who cares? We've got AMPULES, SMUT, BREAM, ATHENIANS and AEROSMITH. I say, thumbs way up.

- Horace

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015, Molly Young and David J. Kahn

29:57

I started off with a vague dislike for this puzzle that diminished as I completed more of it. :) When at first I didn't know the long, connected theme answers, I assumed I wouldn't be able to complete the puzzle, but, as I chipped away at it during the middle of the night, as it happens, it all came together. And, I learned some stuff from a mid-week puzzle. What do you know about that, Horace? :) I had no idea JEANPAULSARTRE turned down the Nobel Prize in literature. I didn't think of him right away for 15D. Playwright who refused and 8-/57-Down in 1964 because I think of Sartre as more of an author than specifically a playwright, but who am I to argue with the Swedish Academy? The other refuseniks in the puzzle were also news to me, not the people themselves, naturally, but the fact that they turned down their attempted respective honors. I found it a little strange that there was another two-part answer in the puzzle, unconnected with the theme. Plus, MEL OTT was no GIMME, at least not for me.

Some of the longer fill at the four edges of the grid was nice, including 1A. URGED, (better answer than clue), 6A. WINSOME, 15A. JALOPIES, 67A. ONELINER, 74A. SOURON, 27D. RADIUM, 28D. STEPPE, and 33D. MUSING, Now that I know 18A. 1921 play that introduced the word "robot" (RUR) I love to see it in puzzles. Maybe Huygens liked 63A. Supporter of a sort, although, maybe not. ;). EPEE for Poker game? (50D) was cute.



I absolutely do not want to pick NITS, ever, but the answer TECH for 65A. Programming pro, e.g. didn't feel spot on. I think of a tech guy as more of a hardware specialist than a programmer. I wasn't too keen on TAUTENS for 75A. Takes up the slack? Maybe the puzzle creators weren't either, thus the question mark. And can you really go with an abbreviation for Home of the elves known as huldufรณlk (44A. ICEL) when there's a good chance no one has ever heard of these secretive people? I always hate to see the answer SAC in a puzzle, no matter what the clue, in this case 45A. Yolk container. UNSOWN for 39A, Like virgin soil seems a bit of a stretch. Can you imagine a farmer saying, "Hey Bob, what's that unsown patch over there?" And Bob says, "It's virgin soil, Carl." Maybe you hear that more around the community gardens in NYC.

Overall, although I SEESAWed a little on this one, I ended up in the TREAT camp.

~Frannie

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015, Peter A. Collins

0:13:51

An interesting theme today of a condiment stacked on a foodstuff. HOTFUDGE covers ICECREAM (19A: Soda shop offering), CHEESE is on the BURGER (18A: Fast-food offering), and so on. Very nice, really, to have a different kind of theme. I don't say it's never been done before, but I've been doing the dailies for a few years now, and I don't remember seeing it before. So that's good.

On the less good side, we have things like AGITA (51D: Unease), MRES (58D: Dinners for G.I.s), and GENET (22D: French playwright Jean) (who?), but really, the compromises are limited, and there's a lot more good, long fill in the Downs than there is objectionable stuff.



Any mention of DEFCON (4D: Multilevel military readiness system) makes me smile - though it probably shouldn't - and I also liked SHUTOUT, WATERGUN, and the full CANOLAOIL (32D: Cooking medium). I've always heard that "canola" was just a word made up so that Americans didn't have to say "rapeseed" when talking about this particular kind of oil, but now, from the great Wikipedia, I learn that it actually is a slightly modified version of rapeseed that was made in Canada in the 1970s, thus the prefix "can." And here I was just saying that I liked to learn things from the late-week puzzles... turns out I can learn something from just about any puzzle!

So where was I? Oh, right, I see REGALER, which I forgot to mention above in the "minus" section, but then I also see MEMES, which I like, and PERSE (12D: Intrinsically: Lat.), which, sadly, for one who has recently read Vergil, Lucretius, and Horace in the original, took me forever to come up with. I also kind of like the ONKP, CBSTV, and NOMSG.

Overall, I like it.

- Horace

Monday, June 15, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015, Mike Buckley

9:24

Greetings All,

Frannie here, as you can probably tell from the time. I know the rest of you blokes can do three Mondays in the time it takes me to do one, but trust me, I am working my ARS off over here. :)

I liked the puzzle. As chance would have it, Horace and I were invited out tonight to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the MAGNACARTA so the theme had a nice NOW kind of flair to it. The five theme answers were strong, although I question the name Innocent for any pope. Too much? I suppose I owe them all DUEPROCESS, but I'd rather just SNIPE (31D. Take a potshot).



Beyond the theme, there was a nice olio of old and new topics from SOLOMON (62A. Biblical wise man) and ULRIC (23A. German prelate who was the first person to be canonized A. D. 993) to NSYNC (39A. Timbalake's boy band) and the expression ASATEAM (14A. Not individually, in sports), which strikes me as MOSTLY modern. I also liked both the clue and answer for 59D. Ample, informally (ENUF). Ample is such a comfortable word and ENUF spells it like it is.

Two answers I disliked for their lack of naturallanguageness were RATER (25A. Movie critic, often) and AIRER (30D. Broadcaster). No one ever says either of those words

A fine flock of animal answers with BRAND, MOOS, OINK, and PEW. Ha!

~Frannie

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015, Randolph Ross

THE IN CROWD

For some reason, this theme kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Even though PRIVATEINVESTMENTS (90A: GI dressed like a priest?) and CRIMINALINTENT (110A: Felon at a campground?) are pretty funny, there are at least two others of the seven that just don't work for me. FIGHTINJUSTICE (23A: Dispute between Loretta Lynch and her coworkers?) What is that? A fight about justice? Even that doesn't sound right. And COURTINJUNCTION (64A: Municipal building located where major roads intersect) - at the junction, maybe. I mean, I get it, it's a clever idea when it works, but it doesn't work all the time.



Never heard of LUNN (76A: Sally ____ (sweet bun)), ODU (85A: Sch. in Norfolk, VA) (Old Dominion University), or 98A: Play ____ with (harm) (HOB) (What the?). IDLEST is POOR. PIGITLATEPASS? Isn't that just called a note from home? RIMY? ELROPO?

It wasn't all bad, though. 27A: Naval bases? (KEELS) and 33A: Fowl pole? (ROOST) were two I liked. 66D: Like some peanuts and celebrities (ROASTED) was nice. QUADRUPEDS (69D: Most mammals) and its neighbor UNSUITABLE (70D: Not appropriate) are both good. But overall, this wasn't my favorite Sunday.

- Horace

p.s. The image for today, by the way, is the reverse of The Great Seal. If, like me, you tried "unum" at first, it was a sensible attempt.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saturday, June 13, 2015, Brad Wilber and Doug Peterson

0:32:05

It took me a while to get going in this one. I think HAMLET (25A: Source of the line "Madness in great ones should not unwatch'd go") was the first thing I put in, but it was a long while before I got much of anything off of that. Instead I ended up getting into the NE through the gimmies of 42A: Celerity (SPEED), and 33A: "Putting the phone down for a sec" in textspeak (BRB), which gave me CEELOGREEN, and so on. We're big fans of Julia Child, so CORDONBLEU was a welcome entry, as was YODA (10D: Someone who speaks like the quote in 25-Across). I usually find cross-referential clues off-putting, but when they make me laugh, they're all right. The other one today, 31A: Alert at 52-Down (ONAIR), actually ended up giving me WKRP (52D: 1970s-'80s sitcom locale). And now that I look at both of those, perhaps the "one way" reference is better than two clues that refer to each other. I'll have to see if that distinction holds up over time.


This just got better and better as it went along. ZEROWASTE (1A: Ultra-environmental policy) is a great start, and an even better goal. We haven't gotten there yet, but we put out less and less every week, it seems. We don't even fill one kitchen trash bag, and much of it is coffee pucks from the espressos. I know, those could go into the compost pile, but I think we might end up having a backyard that smelled like coffee after a while.... which, come to think of it, might not be all that bad...

But I digress. 60A: Criminal who welcomes a hanging? (ART FORGER) is a very, very nice clue. 26D: Dating standard (ANNODOMINI), too, was excellent. And it crosses UNIBROW (35A: Sign of lycanthropy, to some), HAMLET, RINGO, and the well-clued DESTINY (43A: It's often met "on the road taken to avoid it," per Jean de la Fontaine). I had "trouble" in there for a while. And I can't let the wonderful REGIFT (45D: Pass along, with dubious propriety) go without a mention.

I was not familiar with this definition of VIRTU (48D: Bent for collecting curios), and I didn't know 1D: Reimann ___ function (ZETA), nor had I heard the term TAXISQUAD (17A: Group of practice-only NFL players), so that T cross was an educated guess. That's the way it should be, though, on Saturdays. If I don't learn something from the end of The Turn, I feel a little cheated. No such disappointment this week!

- Horace

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015, David Steinberg

0:17:42

For once I seemed to be on Mr. Sternberg's wavelength. I blundered my way into this one by guessing "Kazakhstan" for TAJIKISTAN (5A: Land bordering western China), and then I kind of backed into the puzzle from the NE. I guessed that 16A: Like the Hulk, typically" might end in "rage" (ONARAMPAGE), which helped a little - until it didn't. I love that clue and answer, by the way. And luckily, "Kazakhstan" has a K in the same place as TAJIKISTAN, and I was able to get KALEL (9D: Infant rocketed to earth from Krypton) off of that.



The grid is reminiscent of yesterday's, with it's tall triple stacks in the NW and SE, but is much more open overall, with good flow from one section to the next. The stacks are all decent. For some reason, of the two brand names, I prefer ELECTROLUX (60A: Hoover competitor) to KIASORENTO (32D: Toyota Highlander alternative). Is it because ELECTROLUX is an older brand? Or because Kia misspells Sorrento? Much like Toyota misspells Siena. Or are they not trying to evoke Italian towns with those names? Who knows? Certainly not me.

Anyway, this one breezed by, perhaps a bit too easily. There were some straightforward clues that were tough for me - I was not familiar with DELIBES (58A: "Sylvia" ballet composer, 1876), and I didn't remember SILAS (53D: Monk in "The DaVinci Code"), for example, but the clues that seemed like they were meant to be tricky were not so today. 17A: One having a ball at the circus (SEAL), 27A: Checked out like a wolf (OGLED), 36A: "Baa! Baa! Baa!" singer (YALIE), and even 49A: "B.C." sound effect (ZOT) went right in.

Overall, a lovely grid, and a solid puzzle.

- Horace

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015, Lewis E. Rothlein

0:25:03

Kind of a non-Thursday-ish theme, the HIDDENGEM (34D: Well-kept secret ... or a hint to the answer to each starred clue) - where each theme answer contains the letters "GEM" in succession, split across each of the two words in the answer - but well done, I think, and clued tougher than it would have been had it run as an early week puzzle. The NW and N, in fact, were left undone after nearly twenty minutes of puzzling before work, and had to be finished up over my lunchtime espresso. And speaking of that, I'm loving the "portable" nature of the NYTX subscription. I can start it on my laptop on the porch in the morning, then open my iPad Mini at lunch and it fills in just as I left it on the laptop, and then when I come back in the evening, it's finished when I open the laptop again to hammer out the review. Frannie and I were thinking of using that feature to "work on the puzzle together" while she was in the Netherlands for a few months this Spring, but then she just ended up buying her own subscription. It worked out well that way, though, because now it's back to how it used to be when we met, when we each had a subscription to Games magazine and would race each other doing the crosswords. Did you hear that, Will? We're long-time fans!



So anyway, about this puzzle... I never, ever would have come up with a DODGEMONACO as (*24A: Model of the Blues Brothers' Bluesmobile), would you? And "13A: Spring's counterpart" is a damn tough clue for NEAP. Spring tide, neap tide... who knew they were opposites? Mariners, sure, but us common land-lubbers? "2D: Reading material for the future," on the other hand, is an excellent clue for TEALEAVES. And in the opposite corner, BARRISTER beside ALLEVIATE beside HIDDENGEM makes a lovely little stack.

The fill was generally good overall, and the theme was solid. I also enjoyed the novelty of the arrangement of theme answers. It's always nice when some are Acrosses and some are Downs. Good Thursday.

- Horace

p.s. When I typed in this constructor's name, I didn't recognize it, and I wondered if it was a debut. Well, it is. I'd love to have a Thursday debut! Congratulations, Mr. Rothlein. We'll be anxiously awaiting your next one.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015, Tracy Gray

0:10:19

Didn't we just see a puzzle with a similar twist somewhat recently? If I were a different kind of blogger, I might go back and try to locate it, but being the sort of blogger I am - at least tonight - I'll leave that kind of work to you, dear Reader.

In any event, what we have here is some misshapen (because they're made with squares, after all) wheels of letters that spell out round things. Well, except in the first theme answer, where the round part is at the end of the answer, and "MERRY" goes around in a circle. Odd. Although it kind of works if you read it as a command. Heh. Wait! That's what they all do! OK, I like this one better all of a sudden.



On the plus side, the fill has some very nice bits. POWERNAP (8D: Revitalizing snooze) is very nice, TEATOWELS (34D: Dish-drying cloths) is fun because it makes one think of Frannie's obsession with same, even though she very rarely dries any dishes with one. Not because she doesn't do dishes (she doesn't, much), but because when she does, she prefers to let them air dry. SEEDLESS (39D: Like some rye) is exactly what my rye was tonight (thank goodness!), but I'm not sure that I had mine in quite the same form that they were talking about...

Then there's some stuff like OSTEAL (21A: Bone-related), IRENEE (60A: The "I" in E. I.  du Pont) (Who?), STE, ROES, TINO, TITO, OCH, RIA, OHS, and a few partials...

It's a fun trick, but the puzzle doesn't exactly sparkle. At least not in my opinion. Perhaps you enjoyed it more.

- Horace

Tuesday, June 9, 2015, Roy Leban

0:06:03

Impressive! The last five Triple Crown winners, including the one who just won it two days ago running all the way through the center. Do you think this was started back on Derby Day? It really couldn't have been started any earlier, and there's no way it was just started on Sunday... is there? Mr. Leban must have been watching the Derby and thought - Hey, that's fifteen letters! And then to realize that the previous four winners had paired number of letters - it's really quite incredible. And then on top of that, to make the fill as clean as it is... well, I don't know what else to say.



And even the worst of the fill is symmetrical - UAR & RDS - which makes even the bad stuff kind of elegant. And not that I'm a big fan of TOMCLANCY (6D: "Patriot Games" novelist) or SHOOTINGS (33D: Events for the police blotter), but those are both decent long fill, if we overlook the pluralizing. The MIKADO (44D: Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, with "The") makes it in... we've got ACCEDE (47D: Consent, as to a request), SLENDER (26D: Thin), and WOMBAT (1A: Marsupial that looks like a small bear) - what's not to like?

I'll say it again, impressive!

- Horace

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Monday, June 8, 2015, Peter A. Collins

0:04:27

MAN, there's tons of theme material in this one! Eight film titles are made by putting the gray-shaded (in the online version, anyway) words before the word "MAN." I've only seen half of them, and I'm not sure I've heard of "Dead Man," but the rest are all well known.


And perhaps because the "first words" are all pretty normal, the fill doesn't really suffer at all. I did not know SDS (27D: Radical '60s org.) (Students for a Democratic Society), and there are a few partials (FORI & ONA), but overall, it's pretty clean.

Once again, the long Down material is quite good. ALIENATES (35D: Estranges), ARCADIAN (40D: Peaceful, as the simple rural life), and DIMENOVELS (29D: Old pulp reading) were my favorites, but I also enjoyed DONEDEAL (3D: Fait accompli) up top. I'm not familiar with the POLOLOUNGE (8D: Noted watering hole in Beverly Hills), but that is something that will surprise few people who know me. I did, however, know the other California-related clue - 33A: Mexican city across the border from San Diego (TIJUANA). If only my brother lived in Beverly Hills instead of San Diego, this paragraph might have gone a different way…

Overall, I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

- Horace

Sunday, June 7, 2015, Samuel A. Donaldson

THE CALL OF THE RACE

Fitting, I suppose, that they should have a horse racing-related puzzle on the same weekend that American Pharoah won the Triple Crown.


We enjoyed the punny theme answers as we drove home from a weekend at the beach. 22A: "And they're off! Ace Detective has the ____!" (EARLYLEAD), is pretty good, 35A: "It's Pariah ____!" (ONTHEOUTSIDE) is better… as is 95A: "But wait! Amex Card ____!" (MAKESACHARGE). Heh. And there are a few other bits of theme-related fill, like STATS (17D: Top-three finishes and total earnings, in horse racing), ROSE (49A: Part of a Derby garland), and, I guess, ROSA (49D: Bonheur who painted "The Horse Fair"). I won't go so far as to include 55D: Race segment (LEG), but others might, I suppose.

And it's not just the theme clueing that was good. I enjoyed the interesting 61A: Sound you can't make in your sleep (ACHOO), 42A: Tool made to scale (ICEAXE) (no question mark!), 92A: Calculator that doesn't shut off (ABACUS), 50D: Arab city whose name is an anagram of ARABS (BASRA), and 27D: How the careful think (TWICE), to cite just some.

Some of the long Down fill is quite good. DISLEXICS is good, TRENCHANT (13D: Penetrating) is an excellent word, TEMPORARYTATTOOS (37D: Cracker Jack prizes that leave a mark) and ONEAFTERTHEOTHER (15D: In succession) are, oddly, longer than any theme fill, but both are good-looking fill, and the former is clued quite well.

There's some "glue," as it were, but not too much. Best "saving clue" for such fill - 94D: Bad "Wheel of Fortune" buy for SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY (ANE). That's the kind of thing that makes you almost happy to enter ANE into a grid, and that's the kind of thing that makes this a very good Sunday puzzle.

- Horace

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Saturday, June 6, 2015, Jason Flinn

2:00:11

Wow. I was so happy with myself when, about ten minutes in, I figured out SILENTW (41D: Wrong start?), but it took us another hour and fifty minutes to finish!

Granted, we’re at the beach house, entertaining a few other people, but still… it’s not something you expect on a Saturday. I don’t know how many times we put in and took out NOI/RE, and when Frannie got WEI/GH for 16A: Hang in the balance?, we knew it had to be right, but it just wouldn’t work! And furthermore, one of our guests was pretty confident about ESTR/ADA (38D: Latino star once named one of “The 10 sexiest bachelors in the world” by People magazine), and was stunned when it didn’t fit.

“MIRROR MIRROR” came quickly, and with it SNOWWHITE and the SW. EVILQUEEN and the NE took a little longer, and eventually the sides filled in. But everything around those gray squares stayed undone. We figured out more and more of them – or thought we did, but they just wouldn’t fit, and when they did, the crosses looked awful.

So anyway, it was finally the OFM/AN (42A: Darwin’s “The Descent ____”) crossing THEM/ASTERS (25D: Annual Augusta event) that broke it. In retrospect, it took way too long, because both of those just had to be right. I guess I just have to blame it again on the fact that we weren’t expecting it, and the fact that we are entertaining guests this weekend. In any event, I will remember Jason Flinn’s name from now on.

It’s a little odd that you end up with some nonsense if you look at is as though it were a regular grid, but it’s not a regular grid, so that’s ok in the end.

Very good, challenging Saturday.


- Horace

Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015, James Mulhern

0:19:24

This was a fun one. I really like the wide-open corners of little three-stacks. Looking at them again, I'm reminded that I don't usually spell TEENTSY (45D: Minute) with that second T, and I've never heard of JOCKJAMS (1A: Popular series of 1990s compilation albums) (popular?), but the rest of the stuff, led by JACKASS (38D: Jerk), was pretty good.


It's always a balance, though, isn't it? I see IDEATE (31A: Get creative), which is a creative use of language that I don't love, right next to REJIGGER (33A: Adjust) which I think of as a good use of modern lingo. And we've got the difficult OTTAVA (48D: Up or down 12 semitones, in musical notation), and the stuffy ARREAR (58A: Overdue amount), but we've also got OHGODNO (26D: "That's a terrible, terrible idea") (maybe my favorite clue/entry) and MURSE (9D: Metrosexual satchel).

It's funny to see EVENODDS so quickly again after Jeff Chen's puzzle last Thursday, and 28D: Historical Allen (ETHAN), is similar to "Historic Scott" from yesterday. TBILISI (20A: Supreme court of Georgia locale) took me way longer than it should have, as did CARAFES (41D: Red and white containers). Ooooohh... red and white wine!

SADTOSAY, I would not go so far as to call it STELLAR, but IDECLARE it to be a very good Friday.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thursday, June 4, 2015, Joe Kroezel

0:13:31

Here's an easy trick to remember which is which - STALACTITEs cling tight to the ceiling. That's what my father the geologist told me. I see now, that you could also think that the one with the C hangs from the Ceiling, and the one from the G grows from the Ground. So, take your pick, but know the difference, because this puzzle forces you to know one from the other! Either would fit in the spaces provided, and the crosses would still work. It's a "CLINTON/BOBDOLE light" situation. For 28A: Features of some front teeth, either CAPS or GAPS would be a correct answer. Same for 34A: Work hard (TOIL/MOIL), 44A: Undermine, as a government program (GUT/CUT), and 48A: Plural suffix with organ (ISMS/ISTS). I think the italics on those clues cheapen it a bit, but still - very nice.


Pop Quiz - What do you call it when they connect?

With that kind of a stunt, you end up with a few things like DOSO, ICUS, NEY, and SIRICA (Watergate judge... who knew?), but overall, there's way more good than bad in here. The long non-themers are all strong. COMEDYTEAM (39A: Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, e.g.), DIRTSTAINS (32A: They're often found on baseball uniforms), CASTAWAY (17A: One sending a message in a bottle, maybe), and PAPERTHIN (50A: Like walls in a cheap motel, it seems), for example. The cluing, too, is quite good. 51D: Every family has one (TREE), 7D: Present time, informally (BDAY),  and I even like things like VANILLA (36A: Ordinary), ADMITONE (15A: What a ticket may do), and VEST (3D: One of three pieces).

It's a little weird that TSE and TSETSE are both on the bottom there, and I don't love AMS or ENOL, but then you've got RANATAB, DITCH, MORASS, TACIT, CAMP, ICHABOD and more.

Very good Thursday.

- Horace

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015, Herre Schouwerwou

0:09:57

There was a point in this solve where I had to pause for a minute and go check my email (nothing) before coming back and looking at it anew. The NW and the center were just not coming clear. Even when I put in the final R in ERA (33D: Silent ____), it took me a minute to parse FSERIES (39A: Pickup line) correctly. That FSE_I_S really scared me for a while, but now that I can finally see it as the pickup truck line that it is, I think it's really quite good.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like the theme. From the first time I saw "Pickup line," I was looking for "Come here often," but Mr. Schouwerwou refused to go the obvious route, opting instead for five clever alternatives: NEEDALIFT, CLEANYOURROOM (my favorite), FSERIES, SOWHEREWEREWE (looks excellently odd), and ITSFORYOU. Very nice.


The rest of the fill had it's fair share of crosswordese: OTERI, ENYA, ROO, OREO, NEON... but it also had some fun stuff, like LAVERNE (10D: Shirley's TV roommate), TORCH (58A: Set ablaze), REVENGE (50A: Payback), and BEEFCAKES (3D: Hunky guys). And I liked both GONG and its clue - 36D: Mallet target.

Let's call it a good Wednesday.

- Horace

Tuesday, June 2, 2015, Bruce Haight

0:07:32

It's only 7:30 AM and I'm already thinking about lunch. We always called them "grinders," but that would probably be harder to squeeze into a phrase than "hero," which is the theme today. The first and second theme answers have HERO right smack dab in the middle - BEACHEROSION and PITCHEROFBEER, and it would have been a little more beautiful if the third could have shared that feature, but LEARNTHEROPES isn't bad, and at least the word HERO is split between other words. Solid enough theme.



The fill, on the other hand, irritated me a little more than it did yesterday. The ever-popular INURE showed up right away in the North, and in the SE we have both EZIO and EZER, neither of which is a household name - at least in this household - but they were mitigated by the fineness of the down necessitating those Zs, CHEESEPIZZA (26D: Pie with no extra toppings). Very nice, that. And it's symmetrical entry URBANSPRAWL (3D: Phenomenon facilitated by freeways), is good fill, too, even if, with BEACHEROSION, it paints an unhappy picture of the modern world.

PARD (45D: Pal on the range) makes me wonder if that's not what Keats meant by "Away! Away! for I will fly to thee,/Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,/But on the viewless wings of Poesy,/Though the dull brain perplexes and retards." I've heard that he was using it as a short form of "leopards," but it makes one wonder, does it not? No... probably not. I wonder if Keats was even aware of it as a short form of "pardner." Can't you just hear him saying to Fanny, "Hey Girl, me and my pards are heading over to faery lands forlorn to see if we can't score some vintage draughts. Meet us later on the country green."

Sorry.

Anywhooo, INRE the puzzle, the NW got me off on the wrong foot, maybe, with its ABRA, AYN, ABBR, and ASSTS, and I don't like AZERA or TIDE, but the theme is solid, and there's some good non-theme stuff - SPLAT, FRAIL, SNARE, ANGLE (55D: It's right at 90˙)... let's call it a wash.

- Horace

Monday, June 1, 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015, David Woolf

0:04:57

It's June first already?! Where does the time go? Why, only last month it was May, and before that, it was winter. Oh well. I guess it does seem rather tidy to start up again with the reviews on a Monday, and today we get a type of theme that I, for one, rather enjoy. The sound "sole" is taken through different spellings by way of four phrases; two 15-letters and two ten-letters. The least familiar to most solvers, I'm guessing, will be SOLCERVEZA (17A: Popular Mexican brew). The other three are all quite well known. My favorite is SEOULSOUTHKOREA (48A: Where Kia and Hyundai are headquartered), because it looks so good to have the whole thing spelled out and spanning the whole grid.



The other two long answers (also ten-letters) are both very good. JUNECARTER (11D: Wife portrayed in 2005's "Walk the Line") is always welcome, and LIQUOREDUP (29D: Three sheets to the wind) is fun to have in a Monday puzzle, if, sadly, inappropriate for a work night. (Full disclosure - Frannie and I are heading out to a bar within the hour.)

And the good fill doesn't stop there! We have ARSENIC, SURREAL, LOVEIN, INHEELS, and KIOSK, which are all lively. And if you read 43A: (Letter-shaped fastener) and 44D: (Shows oral disapproval) (couldn't they have worded that differently?) together, it makes both of them more fun - TNUTUTTUTS! 

Maybe it's just because it's my first day back, but I don't really find much to complain about. Sure, ISM, CEE, INC, and DOS aren't great, and I'd include ULM in that group if it didn't remind me of this:


In short, I enjoyed this puzzle. I hope you did too. See you tomorrow!

- Horace