Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Monday, July 26, 2021
Other answers that I thought had a real swing to them were "Make one giggle, say" (AMUSE), "Attired like Batman or Superman" (CAPED), and "Risky things for a car to run on" (FUMES) - as Horace can attest, I get nervous running on anything less than a full tick on the gas gauge! Fill-wise, I liked SEALEGS, DRAB, SLEW, LIEGE, and JAUNTS. ABYSS is a cool-looking word. OHIOU just looks odd.
Saturday, July 24, 2021
This is a beautiful theme. Who doesn't like the big and little dippers? They are depicted fairly accurately here, the little is pouring into the big, as I like to think of it, and the end of the little dipper's handle is situated within its own name - POLAR*S. The stars are made by writing an X and an I in the same space, which gives an asterisk-like thing, which looks like a star. Really lovely.
And on top of all that, we get a few bits of trivia about how other cultures have seen these same stars - as a DRINKINGGOURD, the WAGONOFHEAVEN, and as SEVENOXEN. And for all that, the grid only strains at a few places - ENATIC (Sharing maternal lines), and ATLAI (Central Asia's ____ Mountains), for example.
I thought "They have springs in the middle" was tricky for OASES, and "Wouldn't stand for it?" was a cute QMC for SAT. "This is a test" (EXAM) was fun, but what the heck is "Clear, as crystal" (BUS)? What am I missing here?
There's bonus clueing in "In which 'Stella' means 'star'" (LATIN) and "Star performances, maybe" (SOLOS). And I like the literary bent seen in LIBRARY, PABLO Neruda, OPRAH (Noted book club leader), the BRONTE sisters and their pseudonyms, and NOBEL (1938 prize for Pearl S. Buck). Throw in a little Vulcan clue (STOIC (Like Vulcans, typically)), and you've got our attention, Ms. Deitmer! Congratulations on a lovely debut. We'll keep an eye out for you the next time we're over in Davis Square! :)
p.s. The Boswords tournament is today, Sunday! I think you still have time to register if you haven't already, and I believe Ms. Deitmer has a puzzle in it!
Once again, today, I had to go backwards a little in order to finish. Things went along slowly but surely in all areas except the NW, where I had entered telEPHONE quite confidently for "One might be off the hook." I had INESSENCE (At bottom) and PDAS (Palm products, for short), although I worried that the latter might be too easy for a Saturday and took it out several times. My real problem was that I am not familiar with WHITECLAW (Popular brand of alcoholic seltzer) and I didn't know the term WHIPS (Fancy cars, in modern slang), so I was in a real fix. Finally, I took out the "tele" part of 14-Across and guessed WHITECLAW, and then it all came together.
Interesting to learn the first name of Soichiro HONDA. We drove HONDAs for many years, until the Civic became more of a muscle car than an economy car and we had to look to other brands. Sad.
I don't think SANER is quite right for "More with it," but elsewhere, I enjoyed the three French answers, ENTRE, TRES, and the amusingly clued ETAT (French word whose plural is its English translation backward). COINKYDINK (Happenstance, cutely) made me laugh out loud, because Frannie and her sister love to use that word.
Loved the clues for NOTETAKER (Record producer?) and TATTOOINK (Stuff that's hard to get off your chest?). I am slightly troubled by the clue for ANCHOVY, though. I don't like imagining that there are Caesar salads without anchovies. What's the point?
"Hallus, less formally" (BIGTOE) doesn't fool me anymore. And speaking of that, have you all watched "The Twelfth Man?" I'd explain why those things are related, but it would be TMI.
For me, there was a little too much THEESPYS, MARIOKART, WHITECLAW, and NBAPLAYER for it to move into the upper echelon of puzzle solves, but still it was a solid, challenging Saturday, and that'll do.
Friday, July 23, 2021
The Turn picked right up today with a meaty, tricky offering from Mr. Hawkins. I wouldn't say I CRUSHEDIT, but I did finish it with no errors, which didn't seem all that likely for a while. :)
I thought I was starting out strong by guessing "bCcD" for "Looped in, in a way" (CCED), but soon a couple crosses reminded me that I had read about COSTARICA having done away with its military, so that was fixed up in fairly short order. It's a solid 8-stack in the NW, and the crosses - especially TARMAC (Landing place) - are all decent enough.
In the NE I was all ready to complain about the "fill in the blanks" clue, but when I finally got it and realized what was being done, I thought it was a pretty clever way to clue that old standby, SNL. I might have preferred a different clue for HOTTICKET (Elusive thing for a popular show) but I still love the entry, and "Pool service?" was a tricky QMC for RIDESHARE. So far, so good.
In the SW I dropped in STARFLEET (Enterprise group), and hesitatingly put in MPH (Dashboard abbr.) worrying that it might be too easy for a Friday. HOBART (Tasmania's capital) took every cross, and PLATOON (Company division) also took a very long time. "Maze runner" for MINOTAUR was great, and DABBLEDIN (Experimented with) is a fun phrase.
My solve ground to a halt in the SE, where DROPCAP (Oversize letter at the beginning of a chapter), UNO (Diciembre: doce :: enero : ____), and MYLAR (Shiny balloon material) went right in, but not much else. I'm not familiar with water parks, so LAZYRIVER was not going to come without a lot of crosses, and I was totally fooled by the clue on SPEEDTEST (One way to gauge how well connected you are).
Overall, it was just the kind of Friday I like. One that puts up resistance, but when you finally break through - like seeing KNEELS at last for "Initiates a proposal, maybe" - it makes perfect sense. All the eights and nines are lively, and, well, I liked it. How 'bout you?
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Well, Dear Reader, while yesterday I defended a stunt, today I will do the opposite. Such is the prerogative of the critic, I suppose. It's almost obligatory that we "Not stay neutral" (TAKESIDES) (would have preferred "takeaside").
The theme just didn't work for me. There was another puzzle recently where doubled letters like we see today were given a reason to be joined together. But this time, JOINEDATTHEHIP refers only to the Across answers, and we're left with nine misspelled Downs. Oh, I suppose I could stretch my mind and embrace the stretched words, but I get little satisfaction from the effort.
It would be easier to ACCEPPTS, perhaps, if I weren't also forced to accept INANEST, COXAE, PIKA, and SILEX. And when I'm already in a bad mood, I'm more prone to argue that a PITACHIP (Little dipper?) isn't really any smaller than most other chips ... and then the fun of the QMC is lost.
One clue I did enjoy was "Closest living relatives of whales" (HIPPOPOTAMUSES). We saw a Nova one time that explained how whales (and other marine mammals) came out of the water, lived on land, and then after some evolution, went back into the water to live there again. It showed how whales swim with an up and down motion that mirrors the body motion of a running animal, rather than the side to side swimming of fish who never walked on land. So cool.
Anyway, I probably should have taken in a big breath of AIIR and then EXHHALED before starting this review, then maybe it wouldn't have been so TEPPID. Here's hoping thou HAST found the puzzle more pleasing.