Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016, Jonathan M. Kaye

45:54 - a palindromic number, but that's the only beautiful thing about it.


I'm a SAP for thinking I could go out on a high note. Not only did I complete this puzzle incorrectly, but as of this writing I still don't get the trick or theme or whatever it is. The locus of the error occurred where 35A and 30D meet in the middle. I confidently entered coP for Fuzz at 35A while convincing myself that soP could work for 30D (Person taken for a fool). And speaking of... as the British might say - not because of the recent Brexit controversy but because it seems to be a feature of Britons that they leave their aphorisms half said - I was convinced that 24A. Prisoner's assignment: Abbr. would be some obscure answer there'd be no way IDNO so I hardly even thought about it. SILLYME.

I'll have to leave it to my esteemed readers to comment on the theme. I did think the fill featured some nice words like ETHERLARD, SURGEBEDEW, and SPONGES. Plus, I always love the word ROT for nonsense. And how about Tout? A nice rarely-encountered-by-me word. I surprised myself by getting 4D. Positions in Quidditch (SEEKERS) right out of the gate. Who know I'd remember that? On the other hand, I did enter hero for Sub (5A) temporarily, which was not helpful. 

There was quite a crowd of people in the puzzle today: ERIKA, SAL, EDNA, ONEIL, BELA, ABEL, ELIZA, ENOS, GRAF, and DINAH! but I only knew half of them - I'm not really a people person. 

I am sorry I couldn't figure out today's trick. Maybe it's an OMEN. I guess I'll LIELOW for a while.

~ Frannie out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016, John Lampkin


I find Mr. Lampkin and I have a few things in common. We're both familiar with the soap CAMAY, we think BUTTDIAL is an hilarious expression, and we both love jeux de mots. I think my favorite today is 51D. Range of the von Trapp singers (ALPS). Ha! But, 38D. Soft rock? (MAGMA) is also gneiss .

Another Frannie-friendly feature (or FFF) of this puzzle are the identical clue pairs with different answers. We have a nice twofer with Overplay (EMOTE and HAMUP). And we have a triple with Pub offering (ALE, BREW, and SUDS). There's probably a puzzle out there where all the clues are the same and the answers different - well, maybe a very small puzzle.

I had no trouble with 35A. Flabbergast [great word!] (BOWLOVER), but when I was running through the grid to write the review, I mis-read the answer as BOW LOVER. That would probably need a different clue (Robin Hood, say). Are clues that mean completely different things but result in the same-but-different answers ever used to create easier and harder clues sets for puzzles? I wonder.

Further fine fill: LOPE, SPARSE, STEED, SPYRING, and ASS.

The only difference between me and Mr. Lampkin seems to be that he has, apparently, heard of hair goop called GELEE, and I have not. That aside, I am giving the puzzle a RAVEREVIEW. I bet Mr. Lampkin didn't see *that* coming.

~ Frannie.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016, Alex Vratsanos



Mr. Vratsanos has spun a web of creepiness with his eight LEGged theme. The surfeit of arachnid answers detracted from my enjoyment of the puzzle, especially BITEMARKS. No good, as Huygens might say.

My error occurred where 54A. Antarctic volcano named for a place in the underworld crossed 56D. Hwy. through Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan - another type of hell - kidding! For some reason, I guessed eSTEN, which I was picturing as S10, but US 10 makes a lot more sense. As does EREBUS instead of EREBeS - kidding! :)

I've always thought the word CABOOSE was funny - in a good way. Seeing it in the puzzle today, I wondered where it came from. I looked into it briefly. Its origins are a little murky, but some think it might come from the Dutch word kombuis, meaning galley, because the caboose provided shelter and sometimes cooking facilities for train workers. In other learning opportunities today, I thought I was familiar with the word EPICENE, but it turns out I really had no idea what it meant. Now I do. Thank you NYTX!

Another great entry is ULM. Doesn't that always make you think of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm? It does me. Every time.

The high incidence of three-letter answers in the grid didn't do it any favors. EDA LeShan was completely unknown to me, but the others, while causing no trouble, also brought no joy.

Horace might be surprised to learn that I figured out 66A. Conductor Georg whose name consists of two musical notes (SOLTI) by running through the solfège song from The Sound of Music. Fa!

~ Frannie.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016, Kevan Choset


RWE (Riddled With Errors)

Maybe I shouldn't solve a puzzle late at night on the sedation side of a couple of cocktails. I "finished" the puzzle rather quickly, but did not get congratulated. I ran through the puzzle and fixed dumb mistake after dumb mistake and was still met with silence. I didn't find the final mistake until I looked at the puzzle again in the morning. It was good night IRENe, good morning IRENA. :|

The theme answers were entered per decree merely met the letter E. Kind of cool for those three people. I wonder if they ever think about it. ELLEN might.

While the clues were pretty straightforward, the fill was solid. DEVILEDEGG and LITTERBUG are both nice. Well, they're nice words. I'm less fond of the things they represent, especially LITTERBUG. Who does that? JEWELER, REGALIA, and RETWEET are also strong. I often consider words in puzzles with a "RE" prefix to be a bit of a stretch (for example: puts on clothing again /*redresses), but RETWEET has the distinction of being a legitimate word because it's a thing people actually do with some regularity.

Mr. TEBOW showed up for work again today. And ONEL was back! I am beginning to get a little homesick for ELHI.

~ Frannie.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016, Priscilla Clark and Jeff Chen

Sports Page Headlines

Great Sunday theme! The answers are funny because they are true. And by true, I mean because they seem like they *could* appear on a sports page. Well, I'm not actually sure about that. I know a fair amount about sports as concerns the rules of play and the teams involved, but I know very little about  leagues, subdivisions, and so forth. So, maybe the Mariners can never play the Pirates due to some obscure geographical, financial, or random circumstance, but, if they could, and did, this would be a nice headline: MARINERSBATTLEPIRATES. Ha! I think all the theme answers are pretty damn good, but PADRESBOWTOCARDINALS might be my favorite. It's also where I got a little hung up. I guessed 'nod' in place of BOW, and refused to recognize my mistake. Horace showed me the error of my ways.

There's a lot of good material in this grid. I love OHBOOHOO (20A. Unsympathetic response to a complainer) and vow to incorporate it into my everyday vocabulary. Maybe I'll also incorporate HOTPANTS into my wardrobe. Ha! The ADOBE/ABODE pairing at 15 & 80A is nice. I noticed four queens in the grid: BEE, BEY, DRAMA, and SHEBA (admitted, that last is somewhat oblique).  And speaking of counting, maybe Huygens enjoyed the math involved in 65A, Eight days after the nones (IDES).

I learned that UCLA is the most-applied-to sch. in the U.S. And that a BIALY is a kind of savory baked good. Who knew?

I know the question mark clues are somewhat controversial with this crowd - although I think that's less the case on a Sunday - but I, for one, welcome today's interrobang overlords. To wit:
Dear one? at 100A (DIARY).
22A. Italian vessel? (CRUET) - excellent clue and answer.
131A. Faulty connections? (BADDATES) - nice double DD in this one, eh?
And how about 84D. Gets fitted for a suit? (LAWYERSUP). Now that's legit. :)

In short, I am straight liking this puzzle. GTG.

~ Frannie.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday, June 25, 2016, Kameron Austin Collins


Of the six tens in today's puzzle, I am most familiar with two of them: DONTSASSME - I say that at work all the time - and HEADSTONES - a hard thing to avoid. I had to look up OLIVERREED. I recognized him from the photos I found on the World Wide Web, but I couldn't have picked him out of a lineup ten minutes ago.

But, enough about the tens, what about the elevens? SHOEADDICTS had a tricky clue, but the shoe addict would have to have a very serious problem if they literally had only wedge issues. I've never heard of a SCREENERDVD, but it was definitely gettable from the crosses.

I thought 34A. Point of computer technology? (PIXEL) was good. I liked that YOOHOO crossed with OHOH at the O. And how about the appearance of SOCLE? You definitely do not see that every day. My favorite might have been 16A. Short pants? (TROU). Ha!

It's been a long day today, so I am going to put on my ALOHASHIRT and say goodnight.

~ Frannie.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday, June 24, 2016, Patrick Berry


Horace again. Maybe you'll get Frannie for a couple days in July in return. Maybe not.

Did anybody else find it poignant that Elizabeth REGINA appears on the very day of the Brexit vote? One wonders what her stance on the whole thing was. Well, this one wonders, anyway. Perhaps it was made public, I don't know. I don't follow the news. Unless, of course, there's been a tremendously important piece of news like there was this morning. Will her land now be seen by the rest of the E.U. as an AGGRESSORNATION? This ain't no TRIALRUN, Redcoats, this is "End of EMPIRE" stuff we're talking about. How will you GETBY? And already we're hearing rumbling from the capital on the AMSTEL about a "Nexit," and from the nation that makes BRIE of a "Frexit." Will BLADES be drawn? Will there be WARS? Or will a sense of unity and togetherness be REAWOKEN in the rest of the E.U., and indeed, the world at large? Will the OVAL Office help put the LIE to the NAYSAYS of the horde, the GANG? Will the ignorance of the majority be LAID BARE? Will Europe ever again rise to meet the BELL, to usher in the LONGEST peaceful era EVA?

OK... that's probably enough of that. Besides, I had OLMOS run out of material! OK, ok, I'll YIELD... Even the SNOOTiest ETONIANS will have tired of this trick by now...

Still, the E.U. is NEARTO my heart, and I'm sad to see it compromised in this way. And by England, of all places. The same England that tried to keep together another union separated by an Ocean, never mind a Channel. What have they become?

BLADES (1A: Fan group?) - A-. Decent clue, decent answer. Question mark doesn't bother me.

Overall, I enjoyed it. As Frannie said - "Funny thing about this puzzle, I did better on it once I realized it was a Patrick Berry." He hardly ever ANNOYS us.

- Horace

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thursday, June 23, 2016, Megan Amram and David Kwong

0:26:31 (F.W.O.E.)

Greetings, Dear Reader, it is I, Horace, filling in for Frannie today.

I quite enjoyed this "formal" Thursday theme. Four familiar phrases expanded as if their first word were a nickname. "Bob for apples" (17A: Play a game on Halloween, formally?) becomes ROBERTFORAPPLES. Heh. "25A: Be exceedingly frugal, formally?" isn't to "penny pinch," but PENELOPEPINCH. Hah! It's more common in my experience to hear that as a noun (penny-pincher) instead of a verb, but I'll let it pass because Penelope is such a lovely name. Just ask Odysseus! My favorite of the theme answer, though, (and Frannie's she just tells me) is DOROTHYMATRIX (40A: Kind of printer, formally?). That's a quality theme!

So that's good, what about the rest? PEDI (1A: Half of a salon job) gets a C-. It's a partial of a partial (of sorts), and it's something we see a lot in puzzles. I did enjoy 14A: Writer Waugh, (ALEC), however, even though I've never heard of him, because it made me think right off the bat that there was going to be a rebus. How else were they going to fit "Evelyn" in there? Nice misdirection that could really only work on a Thursday.

HELENMIRREN (23D: Winner of the Triple Crown of Acting (Oscar, Tony and Emmy)) is, of course, fantastic. And yes, I'm mentioning her in the review even though I posted a photo of her... and another thing, it's not a bad way to spend several minutes, scrolling down the Google images that appear when her name is the search string. But where was I?...

LEFTTORIGHT (6D: Phrase in a group photo caption) was unexpected, but brought a chuckle. 27D: Hero of New Orleans (POBOY) also brought a smile. ARMADA, HELIX, SIPHON, ENTREATS, and ENTAIL are all solid fill. I wasn't familiar with LEONA (59A: "Bleeding Love" singer Lewis, 2007), and I can't remember hearing the word "Whilom" (ERST) before, but those aren't really complaints, I'm just exposing my weaknesses. Overall I give this puzzle a hearty thumbs up. Great start to The Turn™. I hope you enjoyed it as well.

- Horace

p.s. My one error was at the intersection of POLIS and OHYES. I'm pretty sure I entered "aHYES" and never looked back.

p.p.s. This is Ms. Amram's debut puzzle! Congratulations to her on such a good one.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016, Fred Piscop


I solved this puzzle at an all-day staff retreat. I thought I'd have plenty of time to work on it while the bigwigs talked at us, but it turned out that we were supposed to participate and contribute the whole time - like animals! On the upside, I learned that our director is also a NYTX solver. Maybe I'll get a raise. :)

The anagram clues had me wondering for a minute or two. I wasn't sure how an eight-letter word could anagram into an 11-letter word, but it soon became clear that it could anagram easily into two shorter words joined by "and." GINANDTONIC and KISSANDTELL might be my favorites. Maybe those two even kinda go together. :)

I wasn't super sure how to spell LAMOUR (24A. Dorothy of "Road" movies). I had LAMaUR in there because my first thought for Sired, biblically (39A) was BEGaT, but that looked a little funny, so I fixed it up, and then it wasn't funny. It was correct.

I was intrigued by PANAM's "flying boats" from the thirties and forties (1A: B- (clue too explain-y)), so I looked them up. Pan Am had a series of planes called Clippers. According to the Wikipedia, a Boeing 314 flying boat flew from LaGuardia to Lisbon in 29 hours 30 minutes. A direct flight from JFK to LIS now takes 7 hours. I was happy to see Cribbage mentioned in the puzzle - a favorite game from days gone by. I also liked MOT for witty rejoinder, even though I rarely see it without its 'bon' companion.

I found EMBED as a noun a little UGLI. I hope no one gives me the EVILEYE for this, but I started to wonder if any EMBEDs had ever taken PANAM to see the EBOLA river. But I suppose that's MOOT.

 ~ Frannie.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016, Julie Bérubé


Nice puzzle today. As I completed the grid, I perceived a fair amount of what might be termed "foreign" fill, if that didn't make it sound vaguely negative. :) I mean entries such as NURMI, GOBI, HUN, TAMALE, and PESTO. But, in the new world where everything is global, maybe it's all just LINGUA franca now.

I am not normally a fan of puzzles with circled letters, but I thought today's circled result (SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS) added a little extra SASSY fun to an already well-formed puzzle.

I liked 44D. Way up or down (STAIRS) - I mis-parsed this clue with "Way" meaning extremely. I always like it when I have to rethink a first impression to get the right answer. Speaking of mis-parsing, it took me longer than it should have to figure out why AVES was correct at 49D. I kept reading it as if it were an ungainly plural of the Latin Ave. I guess all the foreign material in the puzzle had gone to my head. :) And P.s., speaking of ungainly plurals, 62A. Correspondent's afterthoughts, briefly (PSS) is a little awkward. P.p.s. I did like the clue for another three, 56D. Promising letters, IOU. Ho ho!

I was happy to see 63A. L'eggs shade (TAUPE) more for the clue than for the answer. Nothing beats a great pair of L'eggs. The l' gives it a little overseas flair, n'est ce pas?

Surprise bonus: no ONEL today!

BASTA così.

~ Frannie.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016, Jason Mueller


All the people mentioned in this puzzle could join its clubs, except they're not that kind of club. Still, it's a nice parade of people from ANDERS, GILDA, and GEORG to ELIEWIESEL and ADAMDRIVER. There are 16 specific people mentioned - 17 if you count the SAMI, as a specific group of people.

The theme seems suited to a Monday puzzle, but left me a little cold. Although, it does bring to mind one of my favorite moments in the Simpsons. Homer is out golfing and someone mentions the club he'll need to use, and he says, "mmmm ... open-faced sand wedge." Classic.

Despite a LIL bit of crosswordese in the threes - the worst maybe being 67. Dict. entries (WDS) - there was some nice fill including WAFFLEIRON, BROWNIES, and DOWNGRADED. I love the word LOLLS (with or without the s) and the word SMIDGE. Makes me think of Zuzu.

It EMERGES that I like 1A. Wonderment (AWE) just fine. It gets a B.

~ Frannie.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016, David Woolf

Traffic Intersections


I had one error that was really dumb. For 116A. Starting point for Pompeii tourism, I entered NAPoli, which fit like a charm on its own, but caused some crashes on the downs. So, I took it out. But, dear reader, did I swap it out for NAPLES? No, I thought to myself, hunh, I guess I don't know that one. I might have been saved from my own obtuseness had I known crime writer Joseph HANSEN. I guessed HANSoN. Blergh.

The other error came at the cross between 31D. Youth detention center in England (BORSTAL) and the very excellently clued 66A. Call before reserving? (LET). I never once parsed reserving as re-serving. Lovely. If I had known the detention center, I might have figured out the clue, but, I didn't.

But, enough about me, how about today's stop & go theme? I did the puzzle on the app, which doesn't show color, but thanks to the heads up under the blinking "i" and the well known expressions involved, I had no trouble with the theme answers. It is a marvel of puzzle engineering, if you ask me, which you didn't, but it's my soap box for the moment. :) Both the concept and the execution are first-rate. Maybe the best one is the self-referential 92A. Illegal action shown literally in this answer? RUNNINGA[RED]LIGHT. It works on so many levels.

There was a lot of great fill, too - apart from the now-very-tired ONEL (sorry you didn't get your wish englishteacher59).

Here are some of my favorites:
43A. Fill-in-the-blanks diversion (MADLIB)
85A. Trembling (ASHIVER)
91A. Meeting around lunchtime (NOONER - for real this time!)
4D. One going for a board position? (DART) - ha!
13D. Mobile home: Abbr. (ALA) - Another one for the abbreviation clue hall of fame!

I liked 1A. (It's accommodating) quite a bit. It's tricksy on both the clue and answer side, but gettable. I give it an A.


~ Frannie.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday, June 18, 2016, Todd Gross


It appears to be true that the more you do crossword puzzles, the better you get at it. Don't judge by my time - I don't know that I'm a lot faster, but I am a lot finisher. J My supporting example from today's puzzle is 8A. Person typically taking Torts and Contracts. I finally just dropped in the oft-appearing-but-never-yet-met-with-in-real-life ONEL.

To my way of thinking, this grid has a very odd structure. It looks a little like Swiss cheese with holes all over the place. It allows four coast-to-coast answers (as I recently heard them described) without stacks. I liked the north-to-south 15's quite a bit. I am familiar with the movie ALIENVSPREDATOR, but I had no idea it was a hit, so it took me a while to figure that one out.
Asimov joined the sci-fi material with his NOVELETTE "The Bicentennial Man" and 34A. About 3 14 light-years (PARSEC) is a nice companion answer.

We ended up with quite a few abbreviations (BSS, LLDS, LED, CLI (does that count as an abbreviation?)) and oddities in the puzzle's "threes," with the most far out maybe being 5D. Part of the conjugation for "avoir." One has to go pretty deep into the verb matrix for that one. I could scarce believe my eyes when I realized what was wanted there.

I am on the road all day today, so I can't look stuff up the way I normally would, but stuff I would have looked up includes today's 1A. BARBACK (Tavern assistant) (grade: D) and RUNAGATES (3A. Fugitives). I'm assuming these are both valid words because I have a lot of faith in Mr. Shortz, but with any less an authority at the helm, I would be extremely dubious, especially about RUNAGATES. As we say out east, weirt. In the category of uninspiring clue/answer pairs, I have to mention 43A. "You ain't ____!" (LYIN). Mmnh. I also won't be able to put a picture up today due to lack of Internetz, but maybe I'll get one up tomorrow. Watch this space. J

Horace singled out 12A. Literary reference (ALLUSION) as fun fill. Did anyone else (Huygens, I'm looking at you) think 53A. Hot times? (NOONS) was a real ATTENTIONGETTER, especially when grouped with ADULTERY, or is that just me?


Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016, Zhouqin Burnikel


Solving this puzzle was the opposite of ACAN of corn for me. Judging by its clues and answers, I think I can safely say that the overlap between Ms. Burnikel's world and mine is miniscule. I can perhaps cover it in two words: twinsets and candy bars. 57A. CARDIGANS and 23A. KITKAT were about the only two answers in this puzzle I dropped in. I also knew 29A. right away, but unfortunately, I forgot how Mr. TEBOW spells his last name. Sorry, dude.

On my personal WTW? list:

  • Mike & Mike / ESPNRADIO - this answer has a one:one WTW? ratio with ESPN & radio making it very difficult for me to grade. Maybe our esteemed reader Mr. Amory can help me out here.
  • Gods with green skin / OSIRIS
  • The smart phone (?) market: Samsung Galaxy ; Lumia / WINDOWSPHONENOKIA
  • All Nippon Airways hub / NARITA
  • Fajita options / STEAK
  • Panini breads / CIABATTA
  • OTTAWANian sports teams / Senators
  • The many actresses with the last name Polo / TERIS

Anywhoo, I don't want to EMOTE too much, but let's just say it wasn't just ONIONS I was crying over this afternoon.

~ Frannie

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016, Timothy Polin


Just when I thought things were starting to slow down a bit for me, now I'm going to have to brush up on my Torah readings AND my Spanish. :( I thought RANCHeS was fine - I could see them being described as southwestern spreads - but I guess ADeNAI isn't a thing.

But enough about me, how about this puzzle theme? I think it's the most theme material I've ever seen in a crossword puzzle. I solved it on the app and the grid lit up like a Christmas tree when I tapped on 29D. ("Move on!" ... or how to decipher the 16 starred clues). I didn't actually figure the trick out on my own. Horace shouted it out in a 'eureka' moment when we were sitting at the bar having a pre-dinner cocktail. On the other hand, I had dropped in COPACABANA because it was one of the theme clues and it fit, which I thought unlikely to be a chance occurrence. The best theme clue/answer might be 41D. "Suite for use?" (ANAGRAM). Sweet. Although, on a second pass through the puzzle just now, I am reminded of 34D. *Bar order requiring celerity. Ha!

I thought 9D. Make a father of was cleverly clued. I entered something else entirely there at first, which, if I see you in person I will tell you and we'll laugh about.

I'm guessing our esteemed reader Huygens enjoyed both the clue and answer for 33A. Service jobs (LUBES).

It was a nice touch to have Word of logic and Words of logic (ERGO and ORS) cross, and also kind of fun to have ARGOS and ARGOTS in the same puzzle. I enjoyed both SINECURE and PALIMONY in their parallel locations. Two others I enjoyed were 18A. Places for naps? (RUGS) and 43D. The French? (LES).

I'd never heard of LINACS. I'm not a puzzle constructor myself, but LINACS seems to me like the kind of entry you might end up with when you've made a really terrific puzzle and it all fits together beautifully except in one spot where you've got what looks like a random collection of letters, which you then Google desperately until you find some meaning for it. But, maybe that never happens.

I'm not quite sure how to grade 1A. *Pitiers (DOCKS). I should maybe give it an A because it made me and Horace LOL. After I dropped "it" from Pitiers, I sounded out the result and came out with something like Pie ers. No good.

Horace notes that it's a 15 x 16 grid. Discuss, 'cause I'm not going to.

~ Frannie

Bonus trivia question: what is the connection between yesterday's puzzle illustration and today's?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wednesday, June 15, 2016, Jason Flinn

14:36 - I was slowed by having to gaze out our hotel window at the view of Niagara Falls every few minutes. :)

Strong theme today, featuring things added to a standard set. My favorite might be FIFTHWHEEL - so illustrative. I wished there weren't two clues in the set that started with FIFT, but that is a minor concern.

1A. Kimono closer gets a B. The answer is straight crosswordese, but I enjoyed the alliterative cluing. We get a few other standbys in this puzzle including EEL and ERN, and a share of three-letter abbreviations, but also some FUN items as well. To wit:

For the Philologist:
BUILTIN (2D. Permanent, as bookshelves)
FRILLS (4A. Luxuries)
SCANT (49A. Meager)
STOPGAP (46D. Temporary solution)
FEH (29D. "Bah!"). I know the clue word, but the FEH's not familiar - with apologies to whoever came up with the original version of that joke. But seriously folks, I've never run across FEH before. According to a non-thorough search of the World Wide Web, it is Yiddish in origin.

Clever Clues:
56A. Oxymoronic purchase at a blowout sale? (TIRE)
13D. One-hit wonder? (ACE)
34D. Scrip writers (MDS)
59D. Couples cruise ship? (ARK)

Frannie Faves:
15A. A Jackson sister (LATOYA) - who doesn't think of the movie Hot Shots! (LaToya, Tito, Jermaine)? Ha!
53D. He once asked "How far down can a thumb go?" (EBERT). That's a good quote. I had time for only a quick Web search, but couldn't find out if this quote referred to a specific movie, and if so, which one, but it's still good.

IMHO, 22A. Buds in Bordeaux. (AMIS) is not correct, strictly speaking. There are words in French that would be a closer translation of "buds" than AMIS is.
11D. Easier to see. (PLAINER). I think it's probably plain, my dear reader, why I might quibble with the cluing on this one. I wanted it to be clearer.

A solid Wednesday, with some workaday fill, but some clever clues to brighten the landscape.

~ Frannie

Monday, June 13, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016, Tracy Gray


An unusual "E-Z" theme today, with four two-word answers starting with those letters, and a revealer of EASYDOESIT (58A: "Not too hard now" ... or a homophonic hint to 17-, 23-, 35-, and 48-Across). I guess it works, but if EBOLAZAIRE really is used as a name, I've never heard it. I've also never heard of EDZWICK (35A: "Legends of the Fall" director, informally), and the Z in his name was my last square. It shouldn't have been, because - the theme!, but I couldn't remember if it was an X or a Z, and I hadn't yet put any thought into figuring out what the theme was. Luckly, I went with the Z.

So the theme didn't do much for me. What about the rest of it? Well, the SW and NE are nice and chunky with their triple-ninestacks. Nothing is particularly earth-shattering in the stacks, but nothing is objectionable either. CANOODLES (31D: Makes out) is the best word, but does it really mean "makes out?" Isn't it more general than that? It's a word that I think can't really be - nay, shouldn't really be - defined too precisely. We all know what it means. Still, I suppose it has to be clued somehow. :)

"14A: Much of a maze" took me tons of crosses. I wanted "hedges" instantly, but somehow couldn't make the very small leap from hedges to WALLS. It's an odd clue, and I like it. One that I don't particularly like is POO (54A: Nanki-____ of "The Mikado"). I don't mind the word, per se, but that the character, and the Mikado itself, should be reduced to that entry just seems so very wrong.

1A: Baseball slugger's datum (ATBAT) is, again, kinda meh. I'll give it a C+. In fact, that's kind of how I feel about the whole grid. It's fine, but I wouldn't call it sparkling. ZOIC isn't great, there's DCON and DRANO, and the aforementioned POO. Lots of EVE and CEO and OLE and ODE... not enough GLEE. I think my favorite answer might actually be SUGGEST (41D: Propose). I don't know if I've ever seen it in a crossword before. And that's all it takes today to get to be my favorite entry.

- Horace

Monday, June 13, 2016, Lynn Lempel


I am sorry the review is so late. I had locks and locks to do today.

What's in a name? In DUNCANPHYFE's case, the answer is DUNCE, poor dear. Hopefully, he never put two and two together. Although, as a cabinetmaker, he probably put 2x4s together. On the other hand, flourishing as he did in the early 1800s, maybe they didn't have 2x4s. It's late and I'm getting a little TAFT.

The other words revealed by strategically placed circles are fun. I've been throwing around the word CHUMP quite a lot lately when talk turns to politics. Would you believe that chump rhymes with rump, grump, plump and frump. Who knew?

Despite the liberal sprinkling of abbreviations and partials (ASSN and ETTE to name just two), plus ATA snail's pace and "AMI the only one?" I liked the fill in general and the puzzle as a whole.

I thought 38A. Rapunzel's bounty (HAIR) was rather good. I enjoyed 65D's clue, Soused, and answer LIT. I can't help but think of Auntie Mame's book launch party whenever I encounter that one. 29A. Scissors topper, in a game (ROCK) is also fun. And we finally get ISAAC (Asimov) and UFO together again. SANKA (41A. Instant decaf brand) brings me right back to my UTE, when I would make coffee for my Dad and Uncle Bill when he came over to play cribbage.

My lock for best-in-grid today: 44A. High point of a European ski trip? ALP. Ha! Clever clue for the oft-appearing elevation.

Things are starting to blur. Apologies again for my 'tardiness. I hope this whole thing's not a epic FLAIL.

~ Frannie

P.s. SPUR gets a stolid B.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sunday, June 12, 2016, Finn Vigeland

Attending Physicians

I ASSUME (B+) you all liked this puzzle as much as I did. I busted an LOL when I figured out two of the theme answers DRPEPPERSPRAY and DRWHOSYOURDADDY. Ha!

I also just generally liked Mr. Vigeland's use of language throughout the puzzle. There, I said it. When I sat down to write the review, I started typing out clue/answer pairs that I thought were good; the list went on and on. I ended up with 24 pair, which seemed like too many to include in the review, but we'll see. I may need them to pad this thing out. :) I am compelled to call out some of my top favorites, especially the nicely contemporary HUGITOUT (16D) - does anyone really resolve a dispute that way? Maybe they do just by suggesting it. :)

In addition to HUGITOUT, there were several other contemporary references such as SEXTS, HAHA (Facebook reaction button - who knew?), MEH, UBER, and GIFS (Loopy little films?). I think Mr. Vigeland must be one hep cat.

GOOGOO, as eyes, say, is great. As is OHBOOHOO. So many O's. And, I'm  going to go out on a limb here to approve - and even like - a three-letter abbreviation. But it's apt. APT! 32A. Busy APR. workers (CPAS).

Other entries I enjoyed:
101A. A little progress, idiomatically (DENT)
116A. Broccoli pieces (FLORETS).
69D. Future dealings? : (TAROT)
97D. Time to give up : (LENT)

There were only a few items that caused me to POUT.
26A. In ___ (gestating): UTERO - TMI.
55A. Nosy person's request: (MAYISEE) - That's one polite nosy person. I was looking for something more personal and buttinskyish like howmuch or saymore.
29D. Knight's greeting: (MYLADY) - I actually like this one, but it struck me as a little random.

Overall, just what the doctor ordered.

~ Frannie

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Saturday, June 11, 2016, Andrew Kingsley


FWH-NE (finished with Horace, no errors)

Horace and I each worked on the puzzle separately to start. When Horace asked me how I was doing on it, I said I had the whole right side done and was stuck on the left. He said he had the whole left side done and was stuck on the right - a match made in heaven, am I right? Not so fast. It turns out my right was my left and my left was my right, so we were both stuck in the same place. That being the case, we decided to finish the puzzle together.

I got SALAMIS (another ungainly plural to add to the list (and, btw, a B-level 1A)) and ALOUETTE right out of the gate, which made the northwest quite easy, despite the fact that I was not familiar with either white arsenic or RATSBANE.

Following the route I took through the puzzle, I'll say that I loved ACCURST (34A. Ill-fated, old-style). There's something rather nifty about a t-ending past participling adjective, don't you agree?

I thought of ESP the first time I read the clue for 46A. Debatable ability, but I didn't think the clue was specific enough to necessarily be ESP, but then it was. :)

I'm not sure SODOPE is all that modern. According to the Oxford Dictionaries blog, "‘dope’ made the leap from noun to adjective and, more importantly, from negative connotation to positive connotation" in 1981. That's almost as old as I am. :) SAMESEX as a type of union seems to have dope beat.

Over in the east, Horace had entered WALDO, which allowed me to fill in all the downs in the top section. I did, as I always do, stumble on your islands and towns that start with ST, and then a consonant, in this case, K. I say to myself, that can't be right..., but then it is. Maybe we can all agree to call these types of problems STKITTwo moments. :)

The clue that broke the final logjam, created, for me by ONEL and STEFAN, was 41A. (One might start working on Black Friday) MALLSANTA. Excellent.

In sum, I think Horace and I did a PARI good job on this one. :)

~ Frannie.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday, June 10, 2016, David Steinberg


For once, I got ahold of a Steinberg puzzle and never looked back. And to top it off, it's a 16x15!

My entrée, as it were, was with EMPERORPALPATINE (16A: Film villain who says "Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side"), which was a total gimme. It's 16-mate, BATTLEOFTHESEXES (18A: Classic conflict) was both, I thought, a better answer and better-clued. I can no longer remember (the puzzle was kind of a blur, solved close to midnight after a glass or two of wine with dinner and a gin bitter for dessert) whether I had crosses or not for the bottom sixteens, but neither put up much of a fight. And one more long answer - BOILERMAKER (25D: Beer-and-whiskey cocktail) ("cocktail," (in quotes) would have been better) was a also easy thanks to my oldest brother having gotten his PhD from Purdue.

Certain answers, of course, were not gimmes. BARBUDA (38D: Island north of Antigua), UTE (12D: Literally, "land of the sun") (really? In what language?), and SRO (7D: Sign adored by angels). What kind of angels is meant here? Are there "theater angels?"

I kind of liked the paired-but-not-really-paired answers RAGE (32A: Something hot) and GIRL (34A: "____ on Fire" (2012 Alicia Keys hit)) in the middle row, but the row above that - EELY/ERRS/MAINST - is a hot crosswordsy mess.

And finally, yes, I am filling in for Frannie again today. She had a death in the family earlier this week, and the puzzle has not been foremost in her thoughts. Perhaps we're overly sensitized, but yesterday's "DIED" (didn't make it), and today's ESTATE (35A: Executor's charge) (Frannie is executrix) seemed to hit a little close to home.

1A: Popular website with virtual animals (NEOPETS) (huh?). I suppose it's nice to bring younger generations to the NYTX, and I suppose it's balanced out with TYRONE (45D: Power in old films), but I'm still giving it a D.

Favorite clue - 43D: They hold water (SPONGES). Sometimes I'm a sucker for the obvious.
Least favorite clue - 56D: 21st word of the Pledge of Allegiance (ONE). But not all the time.

- Horace

p.s. Is LIZARD skin really considered "leather?" or is it just "lizard skin?"

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thursday, June 9, 2016, Damon Gulczynski

8:35 (FWOE)

Hi! Colum here, filling in for Frannie today.

Am I missing something here? There seems to be a veritable paucity of theme here. There's the "hidden" SILENT diagonally from NW to SE; hidden, I say, because the letters are circled. And then there are two accompanying answers, namely [SILENT]PARTNERS and [SILENT]MAJORITY. And that's it, right? I just know that when I finish this blog entry, and go to read other people's reviews, all will be revealed. But I can't figure it out for myself.

So anyway, the rest of the puzzle plays like a pretty decent themeless. 1A: Powder used to combat moisture (TALCUM) is kind of gross, really. I give it, let's say, oh, C-. That feels about right. And I wasn't impressed with the down answers I got right off the bat either. 17A: Pair of big jets? (AISLES) requires some creative reparsing of the clue, which I enjoy.

How many of you entered anNA at 8D: "Downton Abbey" maid (EDNA)? I know I did. Because, Anna, right? Only, not so much as the seasons went on. Like those last two seasons? That storyline was particularly painful.

You know, as I look at more of this puzzle, I'm less convinced it's all that good. I mean, Claude AKINS and NITA Naldi are pretty outdated. Sheriff Lobo? Ran for three seasons from 1979 to 1981. I mean that's a pretty out there clue.

What I did like? HYMNBOOK. That's some nice letters there. 45A: Strong and proud (LEONINE)... I guess that's because a lion is in a pride? EMAJOR is a key I'm fond of. Not my favorite key, perhaps, but it's a good one. Frankly, I'm having a hard time thinking of pieces in E major. The last movement of Mendelssohn's wonderful violin concerto, and the last movement of Tchaikovsky's fifth symphony, which I've never been that fond of. It does go on for a while.

NONBASIC is an odd term. I mean, it's correct, but wouldn't you just say... oh, maybe, acidic? Oh, and FANZINES.

My error came at the crossing of KRONOR and GOO. Stupidly, I entered KRONeR and didn't check the crossing.

Here's hoping the rest of the turn is better.

- Colum

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wednesday, June 8, 2016, Sean Dobbin


Hi! Horace here, taking over typing duties for Frannie for today. Let's start at the beginning - 1A. Young fellow (BUCKO), which Frannie rates as C-. She hates the word "BUCKO." Me, I don't hate it so much, but it's not my month, so C- it is.

Next, let's get right to the theme. WALKENSTICK (47A: Cudgel for actor Christopher) is, of course, Frannie's favorite. BACONPOWDER (24A: Makeup for actor Kevin) is good too, but let's face it, who is going to choose Kevin Bacon over Christopher Walken. Nobody, that's who.

Now let's get personal for a minute... at dinner this evening, Frannie said that she had the "sharp" part of "1D: C's equivalent" first, but needed 1 Across to figure out the note part. She did play flute for about six years in high school, and even attended a special music camp at Tanglewood, but still she had to have the first cross to figure out which "sharp" was "C's equivalent." Ouch.

But it's not a day to be taking pot shots at Frannie, believe me, so we'll just move on. (I do it for you, esteemed reader.) (Frannie dictated that part.)

Anywho, in other fill news, we both like UMPTEEN (12D: A zillion), FOE (Moriarty to Holmes) (because we love Holmes), and LLBEAN (Competitor of The North Face) (They wouldn't print it if it wasn't true, right?). Frannie also enjoyed OMSK (37D: Trans-Siberian Railway city), the quote from Dickens in 57D (The Law is a ass.), and ALAMODE (How birthday cake may be served). Her other favorite was "Part of a comedy routine" (BIT). Luckily, neither of us had to resort to the clue for 34D, "Two of nine" (ENS), so we were not duped for the NTH time!

OK, that's all for tonight. Frannie hopes to be back tomorrow for another of her signature reviews.



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Peter A. Collins


Another triumph for Mr. Collins! or Edifice Rex, as he might aptly be called after today's puzzle.

Today's shape-y theme had a strong foundation and some nice amenities. For starters, there were a number of European touches inside that appealed to this customer including RUHR, ISERE, OPEL, and STE Jeanne d'Arc. It was nice that PSY showed up. Remember the video? That was a real hot property. 59D and 60D make a nice pair of primates, plus or minus hair. Also, I love the words DRENCH (50D) and TROU (43D).

I was excited to see Shere HITE's name; we have her papers at the library including some interesting surveys that might suit a different interpretation of 34A. Swinger's target at a party...

Speaking of which, the PINATA-style swinger had me stumped for a some time and held up the solve because I didn't know Ms. UTA Hagen, I was stuck on the eyesight meaning of 20-20, AND I was thinking 'pic' for 27D. Something a scanner scans, in brief. DOH! (UPC is better).

I don't mean any DISrespect, but I thought there were a few possible fixer uppers:
In the category of ungainly plurals, we get 39A. ASHTONS - egad, can you just imagine?!? Huygens, please make a note of it.

49A. Certain military hazards for short (IEDS) doesn't really explode with excitement, but it does make possible the very excellent. 11D. STOPTHEBLEEDING.

1A. RODS gets a C+. The clue, Shapes of bacilli bacteria, didn't really draw me in, but the answer IS a shape.

That's probably enough out of me. I'll get back to my NEEDLEPOINT.

~ Frannie

Monday, June 6, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016, Mary Lou Guizzo


Today's review is brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department. Please be sure to take pen and paper and make a note of it by writing it down.

Thanks to today's puzzle theme, I looked up Redundancy (linguistics) in the Wikipedia. I knew a lot of what I found there, but I loved reading about all the levels of redundancy language has to offer, from phonology to rhetoric. I found the possibility that phonological redundancy might come in handy with first language acquisition to be interesting. If it starts that early, no wonder humans love it so much. :) I also learned that the habit, if you will, of saying ATM machine when machine was already accounted for in the acronym has a name: RAS syndrome, which is funny because it stands for Repeated Acronym Syndrome syndrome. Ha! Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Of the theme answers I probably wouldn't bat an eye at TWELVENOON or HEADHONCHO. Who here knew the word 'honcho' comes from Japanese? I might have learned that once long ago, but I forgot it again until today. Anywhoo, I can make a case for the repetition in both of those pairs as a means of emphasis. However, I find FIRSTBEGAN and REVERTBACK to be the most obvious transgressors and a little more difficult to justify.

Although there were seven three-letter answers, only one was a nondescript abbreviation, but the rest, I thought, were solid. Today's SOX were a different color. :)

I thought the 13D. answer/clue pair was an interesting match:  Free (REIN) = (total control), which seems contradictory, but isn't. Or is it?

Also, thanks to the close proximity of STY and STYX I noticed that the two answers share three of the same letters. Is this another kind of redundancy?

I am giving today's 1A. Common lunchbox sandwich, for short (PBJ) a B+. It gets a demerit for being an acronym right out of the gate, but a big plus for being such a great favorite.

~ Frannie

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sunday, June 5, 2016, Tom McCoy


BETWEENYOUANDME, I liked this puzzle quite a bit. I LOL'd several times while solving it. My favorite clue/answer pair might be 20A. Ones with good poker faces? (RHINOS). Ha! I'm laughing again.

There were a number of other fun and funny clue/answer pairs:
69A. Result of hitting the bar? (SPACE)
28A. Student saver (BELL)
16D. Offensive poster (TROLL)
42D. Setting for a watch? (MOVIENIGHT)
63D. What the pros say (AYE)
97D. Too big for one's britches, say? (OBESE)

But, I suppose I should back up a little and say that I enjoyed the theme. The 'Word Search' of the title was nicely executed. If you go looking for "building" or "hours," where do you find them? POSTOFFICE. HARHAR - except seriously.

Of course, it's not just word play I enjoy in a puzzle. There was plenty of straight-up appealing vocabulary in this grid like TAINT, UNLEASHED, OCCULT, and my favorite, NICETY. You don't see that word every day. I was thinking our friend and fellow solver Huygens might enjoy 52A. Like Fermat's last theorem, eventually (PROVEN). I wondered also if he would be adding PAEANS and MAXIMS to the puzzle he imagines creating that will contain only unnecessary or odd plurals.

In among the gems, there were a few odd balls, including 119A. Back entrance (POSTERN), which I thought was cray cray, but when I looked it up, I found that it is a completely normal way to refer to a secondary door or back gate to a fort or castle. And I thought the clue for 13D. (JAWBONE) was a little weird. Chin former. Hunh. But maybe that's just me.

Despite my enjoyment of the puzzle as a whole, I am giving the 1A. answer a C. I'm not a big fan of your "quote" clues to begin with, and neither "Shucks" nor AWNUTS really sings.

As chance would have it, I finished the puzzle in the south west region. I didn't immediately figure out the totally excellent clue 100A. Flames that have gone out? (EXES- ha!), so I looked at the nearby 90D. Red ___, a three-letter answer in which I had already placed the "O" of AHEADOFTIME, and thought to myself, hmmm, I wonder what that's going to be. I couldn't guess, so I went back to 100A. and figured it out. Turns out the answer to 90A was Red SOX. Go team!

~ Frannie

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Saturday, June 4, 2016, Byron Walden and Brad Wilber


Sorry the review is so late, but I spent the entire day running all the New York cities near the Pennsylvania border through my head and I just couldn't come up with OLEAN. It was not that lacuna alone that brought about the DNF, but that, coupled with 30A. Hooked projection on a bird feather (BARBICEL) atop the south west section of the puzzle - a section which also included the stumper, for me at least, MOGAMBO (47A. Clark Gable film that was a remake of his "Red Dust") - brought about my DNF. The foregoing sentence is a DNF of a different kind, isn't it? Ha!

Anywhoo, I don't want to sound like sour grapes or anything, but I didn't love this puzzle. It wasn't just the trouble in the south west corner, but the general lack of FINESSESHOTs in the answer/fill pairs. I'm going to list a few of my least favorites, dinged not because they are invalid, or obscure but, to take a page out of yesterday's puzzle, meh.

WATERLOVING - this just a one-to-one word swap between your Latinate clue and your Germanic answer. :(

The triple three stacks at the top right and bottom left also did not emsparkle the fill. Trust me, it's a perfectly cromulent word. And, what the heck is the NIT Season Tip-Off, I mean besides an annual hoops event? Maybe it runs on the Ocho, which we don't get.

On the upside, and speaking of cromulent, it's always nice to be reminded of the INEPT Homer Simpson - no comeuppance! Plus, the ELSEIF conditional construct in computer programming is included (45A), and who doesn't love that?

So, I'm not MAD mad or anything, but some of the ho hum fill did HINDER my enjoyment of today's NYTXWP.

~ Frannie

P.s. 1A. gets a B+. It's a nice long word, and a tweeny bit jokey. :)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday, June 3, 2016, Josh Knapp


This was, in some ways, a typical Friday puzzle for me. I went once across and down, got about 5 answers that I was relatively confident about, and then was sure I was doomed never to finish it. But, 21 minutes and 26 seconds later, I did finish it. I broke into the puzzle in the north east quadrant with the downs SAM, CLAP, ACRES, and STAINLESS. After that, things seemed to fall in a clockwise direction. I did get hung up briefly at the end, in the north west - I had completely forgotten about Mr. SCAGGS, and was happy in my oblivion, so I'm giving today's 1A. Singer with the 1977 hit "Lido Shuffle" a B. Another problem for me in that corner: no archivist I know would ever use GLUE - and I know a lot of archivists. Maybe Mr. Knapp meant scrapbooker? We'll never know.

I liked the shape of the puzzle with the groups of long answers along the sides and across the middle. LOATHSOME, SCOFFLAWS, and HONORARIA fill the puzzle quite ELEGANTLY, dontcha think? There were only two three-letter answers (TIC and MEH) and I like them both. They have the advantage of being known, usable words, as opposed to some of the poor tri-filling (trifling) answers you get in some puzzles. On the other hand, in what circumstances would a person say or use COEVAL (31D. Agemate)? Maybe it's prominent in the medical community and our esteemed co-author Dr. Amory can explain.

Another nice feature of the puzzle, IMHO, are the "SC" pair of words in the two top answers and the matching "Y"s at the bottom.

There are lots of other great words in this puzzle: CAVEAT, APERCU, SINEW, and CRACKPOT. It's one of the things that makes doing the NYTXWP so fun. I mean, where else can you go from COLONELSANDERS to Julius PETRI without the stomach upset? :)

~ Frannie

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thursday, June 2, 2016, Susan Gelfand


I didn't have just AMAJ problem with this puzzle, I had a COMBO. I ran aground in two spots in the lower right corner, partly because of an error, and partly from not knowing the answers. :) Had I known 54A. First name in gospel (MAHALIA) or 55D. Neighbor of Majorca (IBIZA), I might have noticed sooner that entering Xmen in 70A was a mistake. I also had trouble a little farther to the right. I don't feel bad about not guessing 58A. Mental flub (BRAINO): as Horace succinctly put it: Yuck. However, I should have known LANIER, as Horace also correctly pointed out. He is featured in a bit in Airplane! that I often quote, but that I just as often ask Horace to remind me of the name of the basketball player in that quote. Maybe I'll remember it now.

I did like the rebus answers. There's something very satisfyingly solid about words that have the syllable JACK in them, with my favorites from this puzzle being [FLAP]JACK, [JACK]CHEESE, and [JACK]ASS - an A-level 1A if you ask me. I also like the word jackpot, but am less thrilled about [JACK]POTS for some reason. The plural form lacks efflatus. The 8/48D. revealer was apt. Apt!

There were a bunch of other answers that I liked and that went right in including 2D. Suitable for farming (ARABLE), 19A. Navajo dwelling (HOGAN), which I remember from a unit on First Peoples in grade school, and 26D. Chocolaty spread (NUTELLA), to name three examples.

On the other hand, there were quite a few answers that failed to thrill the part of me that loves beautiful crossword clue and answer pairings, including 60A. Roundish (OVATE), 5D. Carrying ____ (ATUNE), 45A. Turkish moolah (LIRAS), and 64D. Spy satellite, so to speak (EYE).

I didn't really like the 49A. Whippersnapper (WHELP) pairing, but I looked it up and apparently, WHELP can be used with some contempt for young humans. I might have chosen to clue that one differently. 
~ Frannie

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016, Wren Schultz


Frannie here, your NYTXWP guide for the next 30 days. Welcome aboard. Fasten your seat belts. lt's likely to be a bumpy ride. :)

For starters, look how late I am with this review! Outrageous. It's been go go go all day. But now, finally, I can get down to business.

I liked the puzzle.


By Inklein at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Kidding! Here's the real review:

I'm dyin' to be a critic, but I was all a-trema solving this one. I thought it was a cute theme, featuring some of your better known diacritical marks, roughly one to a corner. My favorite has to be the "Metal Umlaut," as found in 17A. Rock's Blue ____ Cult (OYSTER). With the accent on diacritics in this puzzle came a pleasingly high incidence of foreign words, one of my few strong suits.

While I didn't have one iota of trouble with the theme answers I did have a breve spot of trouble with the 23A/23D cross. I went wrong with 23A. Orch. Section, at first going with CTR, before correcting it with 23D. "Elephant Boy" boy (SABU), but it wasn't grave.

Answers I was macron on:
27D. Arsonist, e.g. (FELON)  and 41D. Deceptive dexterity (SLEIGHT) - two nice words.
46D. Champagne's place (FRANCE) - a place many of this blog's reviewers recently vacationed!
60A. E-guffaw (LOL). That "e-" can be used with anything!

Answers I was kind of eth about:
14A. Dickinson with a modeling agency (JANICE) - never heard of her(?)
44D. Steaming bowlful (HOTSOUP) - the answer was fine, but there was something I didn't like about the clue...

In addition to the foreign words and diacritics, other answers were right in my wheelhouse: 32A. Erik of "CHiPS" (ESTRADA), 41A. Muscle builder for Popeye (SPINACH), and 51D. Em and Polly, in literature (AUNTS). The constructor must be a real special character.

~ Frannie (for real this time).

P.s. 1A. Screwed up big-time (BLEWIT) gets a A-. It's a nice start to the puzzle, and I like how it's difficult to parse properly when seen in all caps with no spaces.