Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thursday, January 7, 2016, Andrew J. Ries


Whew! What a tough Thursday. And I'm just going to say how much I loved it. Which is a lot. Just in case I wasn't clear.

To start off, how nice to put DOCTORS / WITHOUT / BORDERS in a symmetric slanted stack of 7-letter answers in the middle. You'd think that might cause some real ugly fill. But Mr. Ries goes even further and adds two high quality 9-letter answers in HUSHMONEY above and ANDREGIDE (nice having the full name there) below. With good clues, to boot! 31A: Sum for keeping mum... ha!

The only crossing entry that feels at all forced is 32D: Star of the short-lived reality show "I Pity the Fool" (MRT), which was pretty much a gimme (one of the few in the puzzle, IMO!). Come on, HOTDIGGITY? Awesome.

But then, we get the remainder of the theme, which is missing letters off the "border" of the grid, which spell out different "doctors". 9D and 10D ([O]REO and [Z]EROS) give us Dr. Oz. 37A, 41A, and 45A: (CHE[W], BOOT[H], and BRAND[O] (1950s sex symbol, surprisingly not a woman!)) give us Dr. Who. 50D and 57D (SAGA[N] and LEN[O] - cute having them both be television hosts) give us Dr. No. And 29A, 33A, and 35A ([D]ROVES, [R]OPED, and [E]DEN) give us Dr. Dre. Four completely recognizable examples of 2- or 3-letter doctors. Well done. And fun to figure out where they would be, even though they're symmetrically placed.

1A: "Yep, you're right" (TRUEDAT): A+. That's what I'm talking about. We need more of this kind of excellent entries to start off puzzles. It was one of the last ones I got, but still.

And the rest of the grid has outstanding clues as well. A few that caught my attention:

  • 1D: King's little cousin (TWIN) - really tricky.
  • 4D: Non-P.C. add-on? (ESS). Not Mac.
  • 11A: Boxer, e.g., for short (DEM). He means Barbara Boxer, democrat of California.
  • 38D: Sweets alternative (HON). As in, names a waitress might call you in a diner.
  • 42D: Stand outs? (ALIBIS) - my favorite of the puzzle. As in, ways you might get out of trouble while on the stand in a courtroom.
Excellent puzzle. Thumbs up all around.

- Colum


  1. 42:28
    Agree overall, especially about this being tough, but I figured out that something was going on with 50D TV host who inspired Neil deGrasse Tyson (SAGA[N]), which I knew off of the clue. Even the junk wasn't junk, like ETD instead of the usual ETA. Finally, an A+ for 1A, and well-deserved. WINSOME is excellent, as is POOLBOY. I never heard of ANDREGIDE, but all of the crosses were eventually gettable, so that's fine. I wanted Strik[e] instead of SWISH, but that didn't slow me down too much. Enjoyable Thursday.

  2. Very nice puzzle, but I don't really feel I can give a time to it. I filled it in, but didn't get the music, and then Frannie finished it and we talked it over. Turns out I had TWIt for TWIN (Tough!), and I didn't understand ALIBIS until reading this blog. Also, it was Frannie who figured out the doctors. I got all the letters, but I didn't put them together properly, because I was thinking "World Health Organization" for WHO. Derp.

    Anyway, I liked this one a lot. I thought it was a little odd that only two of the words in the North and South extended off the grid, but I guess the ones that didn't were set off by being extra-long. And it's elegant to say the least that every "real" answer on the board could have been clued in a normal way. That is, [D]ROVES could have had a clue for "roves" and [Z]EROS could have clued "Eros." That's pretty fancy!

    1. I guess I thought of "Passing remark" as what you might say as you were passing by someone, or leaving - "Tah!"

      Yeah... well... I didn't say it was perfect or anything...