Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016, Jonathan M. Kaye

0:24:09 (F.W.O.E.)

Today's puzzle came with a dire warning to those solving on an iPad: "This puzzle contains an element that cannot be reproduced digitally. However, the puzzle can be solved and understood in digital format. ..." Undaunted, I launched in, quickly finding purchase with the guess SCOPE (9A: Brand of mouthwash) and its confirmation, SHAH ( 9D: Noted exile of 1979).
Things progressed smoothly from there, and I soon realized that we were dealing with some kind of a rebus at 2D: Kind of fertilization (IN[VI]TRO), but I couldn't really understand what was going on with 1D: Pals (BU[DD]IES). I was thinking that maybe all the letters in the word "DIVIDE" would be used in different places? But why not in order? Anyway, I knew something was up, and I pressed on, eventually getting to WEE[VI]LS (51D: Boring things) and FRE[DD]IE (50D: Big Mac?). Again, the letters were those of the word "divide," but it didn't really make sense. Why were they exactly the same as the ones above? Where was the "e" of divide?

So anyway, long story short - or, at least not quite as long as it might have been - I eventually put in the letters of the Across words, which always ended up being "BY." As in, BOOBYTRAPS (46A: Staples of Indiana Jones films) and MADEBYHAND (29A: Artisanal, maybe), but I did not get the "Congratulations!" screen. Sure of my solution, and thinking of the puzzle warning, I thought maybe there was some technicality that was not allowing the app to register the solution as correct, so I went to, where I saw that I had a typo at 34D: Actor Idris (ELBA) and 34A: Lawful ends? (ELS). I had "aLBA," but in my (feeble) defense, I had considered "ELS" for 34A, but did not think the construction of the clue perfectly fit that answer. Wouldn't it have to be "lawfuls' ends?" or something equally tortured, to get the plural ELS? Hmph.

So that's my sob story. The puzzle's true solution, by the way, is to pile up the Ds and the VIs of the Down answers on top of one another so that they look like Bs and Ys. It's pretty clever, and, as yesterday, I wish that I had been solving on paper, but I'm still not sure whether or not I would have come up with that elegant solution, or whether I would have just left in the rebuses or the BYs and called it a day.

Overall, I really like the puzzle. There's tons of non-theme material that I like: STRASSE, SECLUDE, MAESTRO, STONEAGEANCIENT, GIST (56D: Meat) (tough clue!), and even M[DD]EGREE (42D: Operating requirement?). It's a lovely piece of work.

- Horace

p.s. 1A: They're used for storage (BINS) gets a C.


  1. 42:30
    Solving on paper, as I often do (re-used paper, of course, printing on clean sides of used work paper or unwanted mailings), I figured out the rebus with BYPRODUCT/BU[DD]IES/IN[VI]TRO and was on the lookout from then on. My slowdown came in the SE with ANCIENT (I tried ArChaic), FRE[DD]IE and WEE[VI]LS (I tried drilLS off of the ____LS). That cost me a good ten minutes. The good news is that I starred several items: NUDE (23A Kind of beach), of course; IRED (63A Really mad), only because I had erroneously entered poED at first and thought that was great; and MAESTRO (29D Leader in a pit) because even though I should have been thinking along those lines, I was thinking more Nascar. Favorite Theme answer? BOOBYTRAPS...what else? And maybe NEIL (64A Buzz preceder, famously) for my favorite regular answer.

  2. 11:05
    Very peculiar rebus! I also fell into the trap of thinking the letters in "divided" were being split up somehow. But when I realized that even the "by" in DIVIDEDBY was to be replaced, I think it became clear. SHAH was my first entry. I like that it's next to CALIPHS. I too really enjoyed NEIL. That's a crazy piece of cluing, there.

  3. Find the theme early on because BUDDIES, INVITRO, and BYPRODUCT were all pretty solidly suggested by their clues. I guess I did wander around the grid before that enough to ask myself "Hmmm, we all know they can't resist the TREVI fountain, but what's a four letter one?". So I used the theme to help me with the revealer rather than the other way around. Did not realize an IGUANA is (mostly) an herbivore, but now I know. Some really nice answers here: OVERLAID, WEEVILS (as clued), ATARI (as clued). Sure we do get some tired answers like ETA and RES, but high marks on the whole.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.