Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017, David C. Duncan Dekker

FWABOE or, more prosaically, DNF

Most of this puzzle went right along. SWIMMEET and SALMA got me into the north east. I threw FLEECE and TOMATOES right into the south east, and dropped COVERAGE and RAGTOP into the south west. The north west was the last corner to fall, and it didn't so much fall as crumble. The only two I had in there for most of the solving time were COTTo and KEPTtoIT. Both those minor problems became a major FWABOE catastrophe when combined with all the other stuff I didn't know in that quadrant. I entered COTTo because the masculine form of an adjective is the default choice when you don't know the gender of the noun being modified. And if you don't know your pro wrestlers, John CENo is as good as John CENA. The PTtS mess at 5D caused by KEPTtoIT didn't bother me because I had no idea what kind of NEA Mr. Dekker had in mind at 30A. The NEA I'm familiar with is the National Endowment for the Arts, and I'm pretty they don't get their money from PTAs, well, unless there's another kind of PTA? Anywho, that two-clue abbreviation combination was too much for this SIMP. I do agree that I should not have let OAo slide. but I was too caught up trying to decide what letter to choose for my last empty square up there. It was the cross between the so-clued alphabetically rhyming river and Mr. ODETS. I took "alphabetically" a little too literally and tried only letters that came after P. Having never heard of Mr. ODETS (I have since looked him up - apparently he wrote another crossword puzzle favorite, "Waiting for Lefty") this seemed like a fine idea. I didn't feel the least bit WYLE when I finally figured out where I went wrong. :(

Despite all my troubles, the puzzle was not without an air of ESCAPADE. I liked OAT for Wild thing? quite a bit. ALAKAZAM was another fun one, along with Pop enthusiast? (MOM) and Hard stuff to swallow (BOOZE). I'll add to this group QUIXOTE, which seems an improbable word, but I'm happy that it is one.

QUIXOTE brings us to the pangrammatical (?) nature of this puzzle. All twenty-six letters are here, some with bells on. There are more Z's in this puzzle than you'd find at a narcolepsy conference. Too soon? Plenty of Q's lined up to boot. I notice that the corner with the fewest "unusual" letters is the one I had the most trouble with. I also noticed that every letter but one appears in the bottom half of the puzzle, taking 34 and 37A and below as the halfway point. I see online that there is some debate about the value/joy/challenge in a pangram puzzle. I guess I come down on the PRO side (not actually a word in today's puzzle) even though people argue it can result in junky fill, but it can also get some rarely seen vocabuli into a grid.

Additional SHREWS analysis of this puzzle brings up the following points:
SMEARY is a terrible word, made more terrible by the clue: Like cream cheese on a bagel. Ick.
BSC is like a BS form of BS.
Crossing BOOZE and UZI seems like a bad idea.

~Frannie out [mic drop]

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017, Lewis Rothlein


I couldn't finish the puzzle this morning before this GIRL had to get GONE to work. I picked it up again after a two-cocktail dinner to celebrate Horace's birthday. Being ABIT tipsy seemed to help and I quickly made great strides, but I still got stuck in two places. I didn't know the Famed deli seen in Woody Allen's "Manhattan" or the __cards (tools used in ESP testing). I really wished I had ESP because the letter was not coming to me from my own brain. In the end, I did get it from another source. Horace, sitting near by, told me it was Z. My last remaining problem square was the cross at Capital of Swaziland and What may keep a model's weight down? When I said as much to Horace and he revealed that the model clue referred to a different kind of model, which gave it away. But, I suppose it was for the best or I might not be writing the review even now.

In re: BALSAMIC, I didn't love this theme. I like a MICDROP as much as the next guy, but I would rather have seen theme answers with the letters MIC dropped out instead of dropped in. I did find the way the answer words were transformed by the addition of MIC rather fascinating. There were a few KTWO moments, with COMICAL in particular. It's perfectly cromulent, but because I started with COAL, I read the theme answer as co-mike-al and almost rejected it as a non-word, but then realized it is a word. Favorite-wise, I'm split between POLEMIC and FORMICA. Going from POLE to POLEMIC is cool, but FORMICA is a pretty good word.

ECCE some of the clues I'll SKIMOFF as noteworthy:
44A. Something that's long and steep (LIMO) - excellent.
19A. What may keep a model's weight down? (BALSA)- tricky.
43A. Not getting up until after 10? (KOED) - a knock out.
54D. Metal containers (ORES) - nice twist on an old favorite.

Also, how about the throw back to "Baby IMA Want You"?

Stuff that was a little SPACY for me:
Kicking off the puzzle with Hosp. procedure (MRI) at 1A - lame.
Visiting the nation's capital, for short (INDC) - impolitic.
Start of a Beatles title (OBLA) - blah.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Jules P. Markey


Crisis time indeed. It is somewhat comforting to me that MIDDLEAGE is just one of the many possible ages. In all but one of the theme answers the "ages" cross word boundaries, which I think is nicer. It makes the larger answer phrases in which the theme words are located seem more necessary. For example, in 44A. One doesn't need to take a CHAIR to get to the IRON age. LOSTONESMARBLES is my favorite today.

ITCHY is a solid, if uncomfortable answer to start off the puzzle.

I thought 6D. Game for dummies? (BRIDGE) was funny because it is, and, also, if my experience trying to learn it is any indication, it also isn't. I enjoyed both the clue Simoleon and the answer CLAM at 66A. Simoleon always reminds me of the movie It's a Wonderful Life. Wonderful old building and loan.

It's great to see our old friend AMIE in the puzzle again. I got SHEB at 54D. only because his name was just in Sunday's puzzle. Ha!  And, apparently, this famous-but-unknown-to-me Rudy is all the rage. Rudy himself was in yesterday's puzzle and today we have his coach, ARA. If I ever want to win the ACPT, I am definitely going to have to watch this inspiring 1993 movie about a Notre Dame football team walk-on.

But, because I haven't seen the movie yet, I was held up for a time where ARA crosses GNAR. GNAR meaning make a snarling sound is a new one on me.

In the Cock-a-POO category, I put the numerous abbreviations (USN, ATL, RAS, CEO, NTSB, SEN, POS, KANS, ELS, etc.) and the answers IMIT, IREFUL, and ROPERS.

Overall, some good material, but not one for the ages.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Ryan Milligan


"It took me longer to complete the puzzle than I thought it would," said Frannie uneasily. "I did finish it without errors, though," she continued unmistakably.
Okay, so I like a Tom Swifty. Once I started I couldn't stop, but I won't include them all, I pledge sparingly. Of the TAYLORSWIFTLYs in this puzzle, I thought HOWARDSTERNLY was the best, and probably the most accurate. :)

There were other elements of this puzzle that I enjoyed. HEIR for Next in line (14A) was a nice one. The Great Tempter (SATAN) at 33D was another nice one. I like the words PRONTO, PESTO, SPORADIC, and BALK. And I thought the H.L. Mencken quote at64A. was humorous. "A man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin" (CYNIC). Ha!

There were three clues I didn't much like, she said DREIly.
22D. Munch on (EAT)

48D. What stars are in the night (SPECKS) -  I don't really associate the words stars and specks. I had SParKS in there at first, which seems more star like to me.

27D. Measuring cup material for PYREX seemed a little odd to me. Isn't Pyrex a brand of kitchen ware formerly made of borosilicate glass and now made of soda-lime glass in the U.S.? In a nice coincidence, borosilicate glass was first made by OTTO Schott. Maybe they named the schott glass for him. :)

I'll stop banging on here to leave you a little time in your day to hop over to the "Function" section of the Wikipedia page about ray guns. It's a fun read.

And, in case you didn't get enough of my own Tom Swities, here are three more, she offered serieously...
"I'm feeling better for the first time since my girlfriend left me," he said wholeheartedly ; "I go to the same bar every week," she said frequently ; "Let me see that fruit in your hand," said Adam, NAIVEly [nigh Eve ly].


Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017, Tom McCoy


So I says to Horace, I says, how about that ACPT? And then he says, ALLSIKNOWIS that there were no LETUPS. ANDTHENISAYS, maybe next year will be my year. And then he says, ODDSARE, it won't be. Then I says, next year's ALONGWAYSOFF. Then he says, HOWSABOUT getting on with the review? So I says, I'll finish this later.

I am going to STRAIT like the puzzle today. The theme revealer once again makes me wonder if the constructor started with STAKEOUT, or with a pet peeve against one or more of the theme answers. I can imagine either being true. :)

I enjoyed FLAGON, TYROS,  RILECANON, TROIKA, and TOOSOON - which was used during the live commentating of the B final at the Tournament to good effect. I also liked the fact that although there were quite a number of threes, there were relatively few abbreviations (VPS, AGT), or other kinds of filler.

How can you IMPROV on UTOPIA? Stay tuned...


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017, Tracy Gray and Jeff Chen

Mixed Results

We got a whole paint box of fun today. Well-known phrases and titles that feature color words went across and down, but the colors were a little off. It was like being too close to a Monet. Only when you stood where the two colors cross paths were the answers' true colors revealed. Horace and I got through the puzzle with flying colors. The one slow down was at 45A. (1973 #1 hit for Jim Croce). We knew the result was meant to be brown, but weren't sure of the correct mix of source shades. It turned out to be GREEN and RED - interesting! HASHGREENS is kind of funny on its own, but probably something best avoided in real life.

I thought there was a lot to like today. The puzzle entertained with a good mix of content, smooth flow, and some twists gave it a humorous tint. :)

A few favorites:
39A. Possible subject of a French scandal (AMIE) - great word. :)
56A. First and last word of the Musketeers' motto (ALL) - I'm reading one of the Musketeer sequels right now.
60A. Degree in math (NTH) - ha!
68A. Target protector, perhaps (MALLCOP) - clever.
102A. False start? (PSEUDO) - it works on so many levels!
46D. Delighting? (OUTAGE)

I also liked seeing TENDBAR, RYES, and ENIGMA.

Huygens probably enjoyed CATSUIT, HEINIE, and EUNUCHS today - just kidding about the last one - kidding again! I think we all know which one he probably didn't enjoy.

94D. South American prairie (LLANO) and 102D. Fruit tree (PAWPAW) were new to me, but gettable - like I like!

I tried to find a few red flags to mention, but it was a no go. Now, we're off to get some lunch before the Championship Playoffs. Good luck everyone!


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017, Sam Ezersky and David Steinberg

0:36:23 (F.W.O.E.)

Hello World, it's me, Horace. I'm giving Frannie a day off, so she can focus on the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. And speaking of that, it's going really well so far. I can say that, because I haven't yet seen any results! Hah! And another thing, Misters Ezersky and Steinberg are sitting together two rows in front of us at the tournament! Yep, it's a special weekend for us solvers, because we can, for example, go right up to Mr. Ezersky and tell him how much we liked NOBODYCARES (66A: "Just stop talking already"). I would have discussed more entries with him, but at the time, I had not yet finished the puzzle. Frannie and I just finished it up together during the lunch break. Three puzzles down, three to go, and then one more tomorrow. Wish us luck!

But getting back to today's puzzle, I ended up really liking it, even though I did not get the J of JACKEDUP or JUMBLED until after being told that I had an error. I think I had an R in there at first, or maybe a B. Something that didn't really make sense with the Across.

Not much time, because we're heading back down to the ballroom soon, but I will call out several entries I liked:

GILT - 30A: Finished elegantly
DELUGE - 21A: Torrent
BATTERYACID - 17A: Coffee, in military slang
ABOUTME - 39D: Introduction to bio?
ROEVWADE - 33A: Classic case of making life choices?
FETCHES - 3D: Gets
FERAL - 6D: Unbroken

There was lots to love, really, and as the guy sitting next to me said of this puzzle, "If you get 1A, it goes quickly." Well, Dear Reader, I did not get 1A without, ohh, maybe eight crosses, and as a result, the puzzle did not go quickly. But, sometimes that's a good thing, especially on a Saturday.

Ciao for niao.

- Horace

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017, Michael Hawkins and John Guzetta


A great big howdy from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament! I came back early from the wine and cheese reception to try to get this review in under the wire. I had better get down to business.

The shortz of it is that this was a toughie for me. I looked at it on and off during the three hour drive and kept chipping away at it. Sadly, the errors came in the only section I completed (or thought I completed) with ease - the south east. I dropped in the acrosses without the looking much at the downs, so I didn't notice that my erroneous TimEDELAY at 56A. left 47D. with PUmIL instead of PUPIL and DiRE instead of DARE. Derp.

On the upside, I was happy that I was able to complete the grid because at first, I thought I was doomed. ATEIT in the north east held me up for a time over there. The two names at the bottom of the south west stack (RAIMI and INNES)were complete unknowns, causing trouble in that section. Oddly, because I am always struggling with names of people I don't know, 39A. Judith with two Tonys got me going in the mid west. For some reason, I guessed IVEs, which, while not completely correct, was correct enough to kick start things over there.

At 23D. One of a hitched pair, I started with bride, then switched it to groom. When neither of those worked, I gave up on that idea, only to have it be HUBBY. Funny. Nice to see PHIAL in there, and its neighbor LEVIATHAN. I also liked Men's fashion shortcut (CLIPONTIE). I enjoyed 25A. Clip art? (BONSAI). I would have liked ASTERISKS better if I had figured it out sooner. :)

There was a lot of good stuff in this puzzle, but I did think it suffered a little from separations between the sections. Getting all the answers in the north east, for example, did very little to help me with any of the middle sections, and so forth. As our esteemed co-blogger has pointed out from time to time, when that's the case, it's like solving many mini puzzles - and not like the daily ones by Mr. Fagliano.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017, Sandy Ganzell


I got the skinny on this theme about midway through. When I first started the puzzle, the flashing info icon in my app had me worried that I would need to see the print version to complete it, but I didn't. I was able to visualize the theme answers by narrowing my eyes. :) My favorite today might be [narrow]ESCAPE, although there was a time when I loved a [thin]MINT. I am not a fan of [skinny]JEANS.

In other news, I first entered bIg for 4A. (Lead-in to toe or top). It works, but it wasn't correct. Ha! I finally got TOOKHEART at 4D, so the big toe was marched right out of there.

When you see the word AERATE, do you think of that Simpsons episode when Mr. Burns leads the power plant staff in calisthenics? "Raise your right hock. Aerate. Raise your left hock. Aerate." Good times.

I hope Horace both got and enjoyed 46A. Writing on many a chalkboard (MENU) because that's just what he uses at home to list the dinners for the week. I enjoyed 32A. Pickup line? (RAM), 28D. French well (BIEN), and 30D. Museum piece (RELIC). It's twice now we've seen THRICE.

There were a few answers I was SARI to see, including 1A. Cable channel owned by Time Warner (TBS) and 7A. Countdown abbr. (HRS), which were kinda BLAH, but otherwise I think the puzzle URNs an OLE.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Jeffrey Wechsler


I get the GIST of what Mr. Wechsler was going for with the "literally" part of the theme clues, but this use of the word seems a little off the mark to me - not so much that I am going to  RANTRANTRANTRANT about it, but kinda odd. However, tri as I might, I couldn't come up with a better way to describe or clue the situation.

This is also the kind of theme that gives you a lot of bang for your buck once you get it. That may seem counter indicated by my not so MSEC time on this one, but I finished the bulk of the puzzle pretty APACE. It was the north west that was my undoing. I didn't know the "Waiting for Lefty" playwright (ODETS), Eve who wrote "The Vagina Monologues," (ENSLER), or Big brand of kitchen knives. I made some pretty good guesses, but my chance at perfection was GONGONGONGONGON because I failed to notice that I had misspelled one of the CYCLEs, so I ended up with CUTlO instead of CUTCO. PUTS.

Some clues and answers I liked:
Barrel part (STAVE)
Unrenewed, as a subscription (LAPSED)
Brawl (SETTO)
Modest response to a compliment (ITRY)

Other interesting bits:
Did you notice AVER right over VERA in the middle south? Too bad he couldn't get rave in there! I'm guessing Huygens liked seeing KENKEN in the puzzle. I entered sudoku at first, which, it turns out, was not invented in Japan, although it did get its name there. As an unrelated aside, thanks to Wikipedia's disambiguation efforts, I learned that there's a form of rat-bite fever called sodoku. Did not know that. I also enjoyed SLUR, NERD, and BRACE.

Here are the clues I thought were CROCs.
Nonmeat choices at a deli counter (PASTAS) - Pasta salad, maybe, but pastas?
Cold War threat (REDCHINA) - Ooooh, that China! :|
Severe malaise (ANOMIE) - probably cromulent, but pretty far from the way I and my dictionary define this word.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017, George Barany and John D. Child


If you go by the theme of this puzzle, there *is* an accounting of tastes, and it is done on ABACI. OK, that's not true, but each taste is accounted for in the circled  letters within five grid-spanning answers. My favorite is PUREMATHEMATICS. It has a great clue, the best taste sensation [UMAMI] and, who doesn't like math?

There are quite a few other entertaining clues in today's puzzle such as 37D. Nice location (RIVIERA), 67D. Pool contents? (GENES), and 61D. Noah count? (TWO).  I also enjoyed 5A. Peter or Paul, but not Mary (TSAR), and 43A. Something one shouldn't make in public (SCENE),

The grid also features some words I like including ETCH, SITAR, CRAMS, USURP, BLOT, and HAR.

I EGRET to say that there were a few clues and answers that were not my cup of tea: 19D. Bully's boast (IMMEAN) and 35D. You can count on them (ABACI). I found SCABS and ECZEMA entirely unpalatable. :)


Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Andrea Carla Michaels


This was a snappy little puzzle, despite my time; I was distracted while doing it. I love the celebrity puzzler-puzzle professional mash up, especially in this case as I am a big fan of Dr. Tyson. I thought the theme answers were quite fun, if a little on the tried-and-true side. My favorite is probably 24A. Exxon Mobil? (GASGIANT). REDDWARF (Bashful?) is also nice both for the excellence of the clue and the double Ds in the answer. Perhaps Huygens prefers HEAVENLYBODY.

My only brief trouble spot was at 15A. Where I first put aTtA girl,possibly because I had seen it in another recent puzzle. But I was stopped from making ASBIG a mistake as I did on Saturday by realizing my error in time.

Despite 26 or so three-letter answers, we get only three abbreviations or initials (GMC, AAA, FTD), one Greek letter (PSI), and a Dolores, but that of course was never published. We also get OWE, OWL, and OWN, the only three-letter words starting with OW that are not plurals or onomatopoetics. That statement may or may not be true. Someone should check me on that.

There were quite a few nice clues in here. I liked 30D. Body part to lend or bend (EAR), 37D. Successful auctioneer's last word (SOLD), and, I can't resist after yesterday's puzzle: it's baaaaaack: (PSYCHO).

On a scales of OWN to TEN, ITSA RUBY!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday, March 19 2017, Grant Thackray


Now I'm going to sound like a negative Nellie, but I did not like today's theme. I am no fan of a SPOILERALERT. It is perhaps true, that most modern Americans would already be hip to these spoilers, but here's one person who has never seen PSYCHO (To whom the title "45-Down" was referring the whole time).

My favorite clue today might have been 70A. Disappointment for someone looking for a parking spot (HYDRANT). We've all been there. My least favorite was probably 79A. Indoesia's  ___ Islands (ARU). Although, with apologies to Huygens, I didn't not say SISI to 90A. Relating to the sun (HELIACAL) either. But, the one that burned me was the aforementioned NORMANBATES. I first entered NORMANBAnkS because I had some other problems in that area. I fixed them up, but failed to go back and review the answers in the surrounding area, and that spoiled the puzzle for me.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday, March 18, 2017, Roland Huget

57:04/FWLOE, or, if you prefer, DNF

Well, I had a lot of problems with this one, as you see from the above. As I counted up the errors, Horace suggested I needn't bother, and said I should write DNF instead, but I feel like I *did* finish the puzzle, I just had a lot of mistakes. So, dear readers, I leave it to you to decide DNF or FWLOE.

I don't want to come off sounding like a sour grape, but I didn't enjoy this puzzle all that much, quite possibly because it was difficult for me to solve, but not difficult in a fun way. There were so many content clues that I was clueless about that it was more of a struggle than a challenge.

Things went south pretty quickly for me as I filled in the north east and realized in very short order that I had a definite Natick on my hands. I didn't know the name of the Creator of Bluto and Wimpy, nor do I have an even passing familiarity with Mercedes-Benz lines, never mind the mid-luxury ECLASS. I had two or three letters that I thought might work for both a class of car and a first initial, but unfortunately, I eliminated B-F right out of the gate as being too similar to not-so-great grades in school. Derp.

However, the main problem area for me was in the north west. I'm not familiar with "We're No Angels" and have never heard of ALDORAY. Worse yet, I really expected to be able to get 15A. From the heart, in Latin, but could not figure it out. I had EXA_IM_O, but as far as I knew, there was no Latin word for heart that fit that pattern. After I finished (or didn't finish the puzzle), I looked up the definition of EXANIMO online and there is general agreement that it means "from the heart" but if you look up animo in any Latin dictionary, you'll see that the word means spirit. That's what I get for taking the "in Latin" part of that clue too literally. :(

Beyond the specific problem areas mentioned above, there were a couple clue/answer pairs that I didn't think were the BESTEVER. My least favorite was 27A. The Allegheny and Wabash, to the Ohio: Abbr. (TRIBS). Ugh. I thought PANIN for 49. Prepare for a close-up seemed odd. I think of panning as more of a sweeping shot, left to right, and a close up calling for more of a zooming in action. I didn't like AGELINE for several reasons, but especially in the case of a Crow's foot, And re-raising in a poker game may be an aggressive play, but I don't like it as a noun. I am sure these are all perfectly cromulent equivalents, but to my mind they lacked the clue to answer exactness that I enjoy.

Anywho, enough already with the grousing. I enjoyed 7D. Going in and out of middle management? YOYODIET. FINETUNE for Tweak was nice, and I thought 56A. Commoner contemner (ELITIST) was especially nice because the clue itself sounded suitably snobby.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017, Jacob Stulberg


As you see, this took me some time to puzzle out. The double, top-to-bottom fifteens in the east and west left some big holes in my grid for quite a while, especially AMATEURFOOTBALL and MISAPPROPRIATES.

In addition to the challenging monster stacks, there was a clever theme. We get four "Foolish" clues with answers arranged INANE - when that word is read as three words - and that word is also another meaning of foolish. The clues are the same, but we get five different meanings of foolish, four of which have the same number of letters to boot! I put INANE it two places before getting it right. It comes down to some excellent cluing that takes advantage of multiple possible meanings. Figuring out the right one is one of the great joys of puzzle doing. This grid is full of similar examples:
20A. Ran (LED)
26A. Off (DOIN)
40D. Off (STRANGE)
32A. Slips (ERRS)
58A. Simple (MERE)
8D. Hunted (PREY)

And last but not least, the one that almost tripped me up. I had completed all but one square - the cross between 4D. Biblical mount and 17A. Some paperwork: (Abbr.) and thought I was going to have have to guess at it, but I feared a FWOE. I said to myself, "'Some paperwork'" has got to be LTRS, doesn't it? But I don't remember a Mount Ass in the bible - at least not in the King James version. In telling Horace about my dilemma, I re-read the clue and finally noticed there was no capital and I was able to settle on ASS, Phew, no FWOE!

If you ASKME, there were a few bland abbreviations NES, SRS, ATT, but nothing bad enough that one would need to HIE oneself to hell for shame about it. :)


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017, Joel Fagliano


I really enjoyed the solve within the solve today! I skipped right over the dashed clues at first, because what else was I going to do? I needed to ELICIT a few answers from my brain and read the revealer at 66A. (REDACTED) before I could make any headway. The first one I caught on to was DOLPHI[nsa]FETUNA. Which led me to make the [cia] connection between ASSO and TEDPRESS down at 52A. LOOSELEA[fbi]NDER took me forever, even though I knew the missing letters had to be FBI based on the other two theme answers. I was not helped having confidently dropped in suckedUP in 4D, instead of the more delicate, and, as it turned out, more correct, KISSEDUP. I might have liked suckedUP slightly better, but I'm not going to make a federal case out of it.

In addition to the excellent theme material, there was quite a bit to enjoy in the grid, starting right off with HOOKAH. I didn't get that one immediately thanks to the obscure (to me) clue, and the overly forceful lip action I had erroneously entered, mentioned above. THRICE and SILTY are two other words that I thought UPLIT the grid today.

Two fun clue/answer pairs were 6D. Prom wear, for some (HEELS) and 61D. Back at sea (AFT). I liked the near duplication of the adjoining answers 53 and 54D. (SOLE and SOLD), although I was completely convinced I had the correct answer when I entered the incorrect "sure".

Plenty of Huygens material today including SHAFT, the aforementioned KISSEDUP and AFT, SENSATION, possibly SPRAYER, and, of course, ASSO. ALLINFUN. :)

In addition to the ACMES, there were a few DADAS to CONTEND with - but just a few - the worst of which, for me, was probably STRIAE (Narrow grooves). I really much prefer wide grooves. :)  I also got stuck on 30D. (GLUEY). I had the G and the Y but wasn't sure what Mr. Fagliano had chosen to fill that void.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017, Bruce Haight


At first, I misunderstood the unusual feature of the puzzle, spelled out in circled letters, and thought the entire entries (almost anagrammatical!) themselves were supposed to be in alphabetical order, but when Horace clarified the situation for me, I cried OHO! The two features - a set of six words whose letters are in alphabetical order and a natural language phrase explaining that fact within the puzzle - make for a very nice combination.

In the mid west, I had the beginnings of two names I didn't know (29D. HGTV personality __Yip and 30D. Eddie ___, subject of "The French Connection", but I guessed ANNA for 43A. Actress Kendrick of "Pitch Perfect" and all ended well. :) The AVERSE was true for 28D. "Fernando" group, which I didn't have any trouble with (ABBA) and I loved BRAY (39A. Sound like a jackass). There were other excellent "B" words in the grid including 38D. [Wrong answer!] (BZZT) and 49D. Elegantly designed trinkets (BIJOUX). Other fan favorites are CHINTZ (45A. Fabric with a cheap sounding name), PRIOR (13D. Previous arrest, on a rap sheet) and IDLER (40D. Couch potato). The more I review it, the more the excellent clue-to-answer exactness of this puzzle, the more I am WOOed by it.

The puzzle has a number of three spots, but happily, very few are filled with abbreviations, and one old standby (AAS) was entertainingly clued (6A. Batteries in mice). My SUI generis FWOE today was at 44A. For some reason, I entered CsT for Summer hrs. in Chicago. GAR!

In the south west I couldn't imagine what the specific word for fixing a pump would be, but, as I'm sure Mr. Haight intended, I had the wrong kind of pump in mind. Ha!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017, Damon J. Gulczynski


Lettuce begin with a discussion of today's theme. Each clue is addressing a salad type by way of an actor's last name. LEEJCOBB is not a name that gets tossed around much these days, so I had a little trouble with that one (more on that below), but SIDCAESAR and ORSONBEAN were not rocket science. Never having seen "Road Trip," I first entered benGREEN, but I quickly had cause to vinaigrette that one. The clue I found most nice was 34A. Passing mention OBIT. And if you think the structure of the previous sentence is a bit tortured, it was necessary. I had to squeeze in another salad-related Bon MOT.

I enjoyed ATOMIZE (Reduce to particles), Sponge (MOOCHER), Behave (COMPORT), SERE (Bone-dry), and SPASTIC (Moving jerkily), but I was not making any sounds of satisfaction when completing 37D. Winnebago owner, briefly (RVER), Asian electronics giant (NEC), "Breaking Bad" network (AMC). or when typing NAT, TRI, and AKC in the south east.

Today's 1A clue and answer were cute (Pop fan? MOM). Especially excellent when it's a three-letter slot and the apparently significant temptation is to fill such slots with abbreviations.

The answers in the north east struck me as a rather tortured group: ABBACY (valid but awfully rare for a Tuesday), COINOPS (for the machines themselves), AEROBAT (where does he do his laundry?), all sitting on top of the troublesome LEEJCOBB.

Not much Huygens material today except NAKED. The clue was "In the buff," but how about "Undressed" to go with today's theme?


Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017, Alan Deloriea


Here's a puzzle where I knew most of the answers immediately, but didn't get anywhere near the four minute mark. Maybe some day.

I'm going to shoot for PITHY today as I have a date with Mr. Overholt in less than an hour. I hope I won't reach the POINTOFNORETURN with him. Which brings us to today's theme. I liked BERMUDATRIANGLE. It runs the full length of the grid, and, I was fascinated by it in my youth. I think we even had a game called The Bermuda Triangle. The other theme answers are solid 'Points of no return', with TENNISACE providing a nice twist on the word point.

The puzzle kicks off with an abbreviation ATTY, and a rather unappealing one at that, but most of the rest of the threes aren't too bad. My favorite is the enjoyably rephrased old standby: Tango requirement (TWO). I liked the combination of passion and brains to produce NERDY. Also, 4D. got a YUK, even though it's only the start of a joke (YOMAMA).

I was less happy with the clue for 35A. Jazzy Fitzgerald (ELLA). It seemed too glib a description for her talent. And, I realize Monday puzzles are supposed to be relatively easier than puzzles later in the week, but when I got to 34A. WSW's opposite, I wondered why they didn't simply write, "34A. Enter ENE." Perhaps that would leand to ENNUI.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017, Alan Arbesfeld


Horace and I were sitting with our niece last night while her parents attended a charity event. The niece is 13 and prone to immerse herself in books or handheld devices so I thought it might be fun to solve the puzzle together. As a group activity, it was moderately successful. The niece made an EFFORT and chimed in on a bunch of clues and was able to TROT out a few answers. ATTA girl!

Today's theme, "Taking the Fifth," plays fast and loose with the fifth letter of the alphabet, but the addition of the "e" sound to well known phrases had some humorous results. I liked IRRESISTIBLEUIE - look at that crazy combo of vowels at the end! -  and ATTILATHEHONEY. Horace enjoyed NANNYGOATEE. My least favorite might be THEBIGCHILI. Why is it that anything that reminds one of The Big Chill seems dated and slightly embarrassing?

STERNA is a little too contorted and abstruse as a kickoff clue, especially for a Sunday puzzle, IMHO. Interesting that TAMPA is called The Big Guava. Who knew?

Here are a few clues and answers that I particularly enjoyed:
5D. Is unobliged to (NEEDNOT).
12D. Compact (TREATY).
33D. Unpopular baby name (ADOLF). Funny (ish) :)
67D. Start to practice? (MAL). I thought this one was interesting because it could be both a start to practice and an end to practice.
88D. Picture of health, in brief? (MRI). Ha!

Some trouble spots for me:
59A. Small handful (IMP). I was stuck on the quantity meaning of handful for quite a while.
68A. Do to do (SCALE). I was completely unable to parse this clue. Horace explained it to me after the puzzle was complete.
119A. We were all stumped by 2000s TV hit set in Baltimore (THEWIRE), having never seen a single episode.
97D. French ice cream flavorer (MENTHE). This one should have been easy, but we thought it was a type of person rather than a French word for a flavor. Derp.
7D. Curtain fabric (NINON). This answer generated a number of suggestions from the floor (tulle, sheer, linen), but none that fit with the rest of the puzzle. It continued to stump us after it was filled in. I have never heard of this stuff (see what I did there? :)) But, now I have. Thanks NYTX!

There were some crossword CLICHES here and there, but overall a satisfactory Sunday olio.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017, Natan Last


I'm doing a HOTTAKE (love that expression!) on the puzzle today by live blogging as Horace solves the puzzle on the couch near by. I got up rather early today and in a rare turn of events, finished the puzzle before Horace, so I can listen and take notes as he solves.

Regret/RUE classic crossword. (33D)

"Man, I had tHRoNE in 27A Where bows may be made." - too clever by half, if incorrect.

A series of hmmmms.

At 47. Lover of history? we get, "I feel I'll know who it is when I get a few more crosses." Several O names were mentioned in rapid succession, but almost as quickly abandoned. Stay tuned...

54A. Repeated lyric from the Who (SEEME) predictably irritated Horace, who, for some reason, never cared for that particular rock opera.

Now we have an eeeuw from Horace for 34A. Insect that's born pregnant (APHID). I agree that there's a lot that's unpleasant about both clue and answer.

"Oh, Jesus," said appreciatively in re: course about courses (HOMEEC).

51D. (VAS) gets another expression of dismay. When I did the puzzle, I thought it was going to be sac, one of my least favorite three-letter fillers. Vas is slightly better.

Big finish down in the south east where it turns out that Lover of history is OLDFLAME - an excellent play on words.

After Horace completed the grid, we reviewed some of the other entries.

Doddery and SPRY (44A) are nice opposites.

Pleasing Simpsons reference at 18A. Longtime TV tavern (MOES)

BLOKE (7A) - great word.

MANNA (28A) and DRAMEDY (32A) - not seen every day.

48A. Look the wrong way? (LEER) - Ha!
24D. What had a double standard in the Bible? (ARK) - Hah hah!

Frannie asks who is Durocher and who is OTT? According to Horace this is a vintage sports reference.

Overall, a robust puzzle with only one clunker (2D. There's not a LOTI can do"),


Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017, Pawel Fludzinski


Overall, a solid puzzle with a several areas of satisfying obfuscation. We start off with a nice stack of tens in the north west corner - natural answers that are well clued without being totally obvious - at least to me. In fact, the 3D/19A cross, was a Natick for me, thus the Assist. I ran into Horace at the bus stop after work and he supplied the missing P. I'm unfamiliar with Mr. TAPPER, not being a CNN watcher, nor did I know that Baht was the currency of Thailand. Even if I had known that, there was the additional problem of not knowing that KIP is the Laotian analogue of Baht.  Also in that neck of the woods, OLEO stumped me for a long time - possibly because I am about as conversant with margarines as I am with CNN. I quite enjoyed 28A. End of a letter (SERIF). Other clues of note in that section were 8D. Spreads out in a park? (PICNICS) and 9D. Euro forerunner (ECU) - kicking it old school.

I got right into the north east thanks to esteemed puzzle reviewer Colum Amory's children with whom I once watched the YouTube video "Actual Cannibal Shia LABEOUF" several times. 13D. Cayenne's hotter cousin (HABANERO) was no match for me.

I was able to get a toe hold in the south east with NIL and DOLOOP. I am not a big fan of ETERNE, bu the triple tens in that corner were all solid. I know Horace dropped in GAMETHEORY in 61A. I'm guessing Huygens and Mr. Amory did as well. Going door to door? as a clue for SIDESWIPED (67A) was a nice twist.

I was stuck in the south west for a long time with nothing but ATIT and ARTS, and I was sure ARTS couldn't be correct because the clue mentioned both mime and puppetry. Kidding! You'd think that 55A. The house of Versace? (LACASA) would have been a gimmie for me, but I overlooked the 'The' to my almost eternal detriment. I am sorry to say I've never heard of 2015 Literature Nobelist Alexievich. SVETLANA was a guess that fortunately turned out to be correct. I thought 64A. Narrow margin (NOSE) was good.

DUMPSTERFIRE cut a nice figure through the middle of the grid.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thursday, March 9, 2017, Jeremy Newton


For those of you keeping track at home, after yesterday's debacle, I took it a little slower today and have started a new non-FWOE streak. We'll see how that goes.

The theme combines the a substantive set of phrases ending with W[ORK] or L[IFE] and the big 55A. WORKLIFEBALANCE with a corresponding grid shape. Add to that WEIGHS and SCALES and it's a HEFTY amount of theme material.

The top part of the puzzle was a little heavy on the three-letter abbreviations (PSAS, MAV, AVE, NHL, FEM), but it also had better ones like JOG, GIG, and PEZ. I loved the ALI quote in 33A. "If you even  dream of beating me, you'd better wake up and apologize." That's some solid braggadocio.

Favorite clue/answer pairs were 20A. Gilt-y party? (MIDAS) and 54A. Gave a damn? (CURSED).


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday, March 8, 2017, Paula Gamache


Well, the streak few knew about is now over. I hadn't had a single FWOE since March 1st, but today, where COLOMBO crosses NOBU I first entered an "e." I knew it was wrong as soon as I put it in. I should have left a known square empty, as I frequently do, so I can check things over before finishing, but I was in a rush this morning. I didn't really know the capital of Sri Lanka (sadly), and from the clue for 28D. Celebrity chef Matsuhisa (cooking's not my thing) I thought I wouldn't know that answer either, but I have heard of the restaurant Nobu, so I could have gotten it, if I had thought it through a little longer. Derp.

I'm on the fence about today's theme. Except for WHATSUPDC, which might be yelled out at a concert or by a radio host, the theme answers are a bit of a stretch, or, perhaps more appropriately, miss the mark. It is excellent that each theme answer is missing a different vowel. TYRANNOSAURUSRX is an amusing notion.

I thought 62A. Mental bloc? was a nice clue for the oft-seen MENSA. Call me ARTY, but my least favorite clue was probably 56D. The Cyclones of the N.C.A.A., for short (ISU).

We have an ample supply of Huygens material in here, especially in the bottom with PORNO, RUB, SKIN, and, maybe for the PROM set, DEN.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Freddie Cheng


As I completed the grid, I found the anagramization of T,A,L,E,S at the end of each theme answer quickly GOINGSTALE. It was a nice that the theme's big finish was LASTBUTNOTLEAST, but the presence of NICOLATESLA not withstanding, I felt the puzzle lacked electricity.

I did enjoy KEPI and MELEE, which are both fun words. And 39A. Prevents litter? (SPAYS) was  clever, but the parade of LII, LIE, LET, LPS, SSR, ASSN, AKA, BAA, AHS, HTS, CTS, STRSKA and TASK, to name a few, elicited more than a few muttered TSKS as I puzzed.

Maybe this is too many CARPS, but I am not a fan of LASE (Cut with a beam) as a verb, or NULLS for that matter  (48D. Makes void). I thought of a few possible sentences using nulls as the main verb, but it would upset Horace if I printed them here, so you'll have to contact me off blog if you're interested. :)

The clue for 1A. won't win any MEDALS (Things that may be displayed on a general's chest), but as an entry in and of itself, it's not bad.

On TOTHE next.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Monday, March 6, 2017, Susan Gelfand


My time brings to mind a jet plane - in a way. But in another way, not so much. It's more than twice the gold standard for a Monday puzzle, but I'm not sure I could complete a grid in three minutes even if all the letters were the same. But, enough about me, let's get to today's puzzle.

I found this puzzle's theme charming and entertaining. It's the kind of theme I wish I could come up with. My dream of getting a puzzle published in the NYT continues to elude me, but that's not why you called me here (I guess it wasn't quite enough about me after all). The clue/answer pairs created some nice IMAGERY. My favorite theme entry might be DUSTJACKET (article of outerwear for a housekeeper?), but CHEVYBLAZER (article of outerwear for a General Motors employee?) made me LOL. Really they are all very good. A fun idea carried off with 62A.

Another plus is that the rest of the grid wasn't sacrificed to support the theme. We have quite a few threes, but only one of them was clued with Abbr. A triumph! It's true that 1A isn't the most engaging kickoff clue and answer ever, but as it was immediately followed by CASK (Wine barrel), I'm pretty sure the FDA was quickly forgotten.

I have a special fondness for the word BROGAN (32A. Ankle-high work shoe). Unfortunately, as one so rarely sees that word, I first entered its uglier and more common cousin, chukka. The B of brogan sprouted another fan favorite, BOT, excellently clued with Droid (32D). 

SEGO lily, BAL Harbour, Fla., and RIAS (inlets) aren't in my everyday vocabulary basket, but they didn't cause me any trouble thanks to the solid surrounding clues like RAINHAT and BYTE. IRKSOMEBEESWAX, INKLING, and ACROBAT are also nice.



Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday, March 5, 2017, Timothy Polin


It took me a little while to get into today's theme, but after entering a few of the theme answers, I ended up enjoying it. I was even able to use the element in 60 across to correct an error on a down and complete the answer (ROADSIDEDINER).  I had entered WOODsy instead of WOODED at 32D (much cuter), but when I saw that the element was NE, I knew that the 'y' had to be a big, big D. :)

I am fairly happy that I didn't know 67A. Chocolate -and-banana liqueur cocktail (CAPRI). DOESNT SOUND GOODY to me.

There were some clever clues TRUout (not that one), but, I did like 28D. Top story (ATTIC), 56A. Bomb developed in the 1950s (EDSEL), 84D. Issue for a noble family? (SCION), and 118A. One given a citation (SOURCE).

OTERI, SOT, ERR, and EELS all made ENCOREs today. I was sorry to learn about eel pie. YEW.

Remember how I didn't like the recent TEHEE? The same goes for TEPEE.

That's all I have time for today. YOLO!


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Saturday, March 4, 2017, Mary Lou Guizzo


Lots of good vocabulary here: LEACH, GINUP, ALEUT, SCUT. The spell check in this blog editor doesn't even think scut's a word; it is underlined in edit mode as if it were an error. Ha.

We were INLUCK with several fun clues and answers including 27D. Fast results? (PANGS), 16A. Where lines are drawn? (ARTI), 34A. Gone badly? (AWOL), and 37A. British thrones? (LOOS),

It was nice to see local favorite NECCO in the grid. According to the Wikipedia. Necco produced its one trillionth Necco Wafer candy in the fall of 2010, In another pleasant surprise, the great Phil OCHS popped up at 38A. ("Draft Dodger Rag" singer). Some recent events make one miss his voice more than ever. :|

I'll also say YEA to all the European flair: NEUER, EPEE, ARNO, EUROS, PIAF, TREVI. Good TIMES.

To cavil a bit, I don't Cotton Bowl to this puzzle's spelling of 46D. Laughter sound (TEHEE). If the T part is to be pronounced like the H part, why not spell them the same way? And don't say 1517 years of language history. And if you are meant to pronounce the first part with a short e, don't. It just might make me swear a big, big D.



Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday, March 3, 2017, Patrick Berry


I had better tighten my ASTEROIDBELT and get this puzzle reviewed before midnight. ONEDAY I'll get it done earlier.

Mr. Berry entertains, as ever, with several clever clues. I especially enjoyed 11D. Has everything? OVEREATS and 13A. Heady stuff (ALE).

And how about the nice pair of clues in 10A. Hold up (ROB) and 49D. Pull down (EARN)? I also noticed the 5D/39D combo BEE HIVE, which may have been a fluke (or an EEL), but also possibly not. Another amusing clue was 28A. Sir in the Ruhr (HERR). I enjoyed BONEDRY as well (12D). 52A. Dachshund, colloquially (SAUSAGEDOG) is funny, although in my colloquy one more often hears them called wiener dogs.

We have MEDUSA back for the second time this week. Perseus had better get bizzay. I didn't recognize the names of either of Medusa's two sisters, so which one is really immortal after all, eh? Take that Stheno and Euryale.

I don't usually take note of the grid itself, unlike some of my esteemed colleagues, but today I did notice the one answer running top to bottom down the middle (SUMMERTIMEBLUES), which I thought was nifty. I tried to invest it with some significance relative to the rest of the puzzle, but I couldn't. Anyone else?

I don't want to be the QUEENOFMEAN, but there are a couple of clues I am critical of. The clue/answer pair 41D. Flickering light (STROBE) for one. Although, accurate, in a way, flickering is not quite how I would describe a strobe light. Also, AUTORACE for 33D. (Talladega event) seemed a bit obvi for a Friday puzzle, but perhaps I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Although my time for today's puzzle wasn't fast, I did complete it with no FWOEs - always a nice FEAT for me on a Friday.

~ Frannie

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thursday, March 2, 2017, Peter Gordon


The theme deserves, I suppose, a measure of respect, for pointing out such a metrical miracle as EMILYDICKINSON's DOUBLEDACTYL, but I sure had trouble with what was effectively 43A, the last part of the question. It may surprise you to learn that even though I entered the poet's name quite early on, I didn't immediately consider her feet, or is that foots? So, I in turn, have a question for you,

What famous crossword puzzle blogger, who took forever to think of dactyl, could be aptly described with the spondee dumb dumb?  Answer below. :)

It may be that because I was unable to tear a dactyl out of my brain, my feelings towards the puzzle as a whole suffered a bit. It's a solid puzzle with some clue-to-answer exactnesses that I always appreciate such as 34A. Handle adversity (COPE), 35A. Feel some repentance for (RUE), and 42A. Checkup imperative (SAYAH), but that it might have lacked a little VOLTA.

~ Frannie

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017, David Phillips


Frannie here. I'm steering this train for the next 31 days, so hold onto your hats!

It should come as no surprise that I enjoyed today's puzzle theme. My favorite, for its absurdity when imagined, is SNIFFAROUND. Ha! Although, come to think of it, I have seen it done. My second favorite, for reasons probably obvious to the regular readers of this blog, is STUDYABROAD. It works on so many levels. :)

I also thought the non-theme fill was quite robust and enjoyable, with a minimum of abbreviations, even among the copious threes. I particularly liked 19A. One way to stand (PAT) maybe because you don't run into that expression much anymore. Other nice oldies but goodies were 8D. Dagger's partner (CLOAK), 13D. Travels in high style (JETSETS), and 45D. Bellyache (GROUSE) - the last is a winner with great words as both clue and answer. 11D. Small slice of one's workday? (PAPERCUT) entertained.

There were a lot of products and purveyors incorporated into the grid: ALDO, BRANSON, CESSNA, ESPN, GODIVA, IPHONE, TESLAS.

Did anyone else think it was weird that ABBA wasn't all capitalized in the clue for 47D?