Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday, June 30, 2017, Damon Gulcynski


I'm sorry to go out on a FWOE, but there you go. I'm a poet and I don't even know it, but my feet show it, they're long fellows. Remember that old chestnut?

My FWOE came where TASSEL (a tarboosh feature, apparently) crossed ANNASUI, or ANNA puey, as I'm going to call her, since she makes perfume. Fashion is apparently not my forte, and even if it were, a scent called Dolly Girl is right out, as Huygens might say.

The whole north west was a problem. 2D. Tower of ____ (classic math puzzle) was either too classic, or not classic enough for me. I've never heard of it (HANOI) . And I love math! Huygens probably dropped that in like an I shaped Tetrimino. And, I was stuck in other parts of New York City for a long time, instead of enjoying myself at the PIZZERIA (21A. Locale in "Do the Right Thing").

I was intrigued by 20D. Humorous as opposed to strange. When I was a kid, when someone in my family said, "a funny thing happened." someone else always said, "funny strange, or funny haha?" Apparently, other people say HAHAFUNNY. Aren't humans wonderful?

Never mind MOANS, a literal groan escaped me when I completed 10D. Food processors, informally (TUMMIES). I'm sorry to even type that in here. I wanted APT at 8A (Prone), but I did not want that. I told Horace I was stuck on that square, and he said, "you're not going to like it." What he said was apt. APT!

My second unfavorite answer was CARRACE for 500, e.g. I like a curve, but that one was a NON.

Anywhoo, it's the thirtieth day of the sixth month, Saturn is in retrograde, and the review is about to enter a new FAZE: Horace takes over tomorrow. Save all your SOPPY encomiums. I'm so OVER it.



Thursday, June 29, 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017, Rich Proulx


Sacre bleu it's déjà vu all over again! A French word crossed me up again. Nothing about the clue at 24A. Figure on the top of Paris's Notre-Dame seemed to indicate that un mot français was called for, and I've never heard of Mlle. Hadid, so I guessed ANnE instead of ANGE. Derp.

My favorite theme answer was 27A. Call for cleanup in the Persian Gulf? (BAHRAINWASH). Ha! The other countries heard from were also pretty amusing. I have a soft spot for TAKEMYWIFEBELIZE because it reminds me of my Dad. :)

I also liked 1D. Hunky-dory (JAKE). That's a word you don't hear every day. On the other hand, you don't know how often I hear, "get a load of that suit (EXEC)" at the office. One of these days I will learn to play EUCHRE.
There was quite a lot of good fill throughout, really. My one WEIMAR might be that the clues were a little uneven, ranging from easy peasy ("Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" band at 6A, which everyone knows is WHAM) to ungettable (Supermodel Hadid (GIGI), which no one knows) - oh, wait, maybe that's just me.

And one more thing, Peter Falk feature at 41D. (GLASSEYE)? Are we supposed to talk about that?


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017, David Kwong


My FWOE came when ALAIN met LARA. I'm too UNHIP to know who either of the two principals is. I guessed AdAIN and dARA, but when Horace told me the man's name was Alain, I realized I could have made a better guess based on his last name (De Botton). Derp.

I found the theme/quip to be entertainingly meta. I am a fan of portmanteau words and celebrity names to begin with, so making a portmanteau name that is PORTMANTEAU, well, that's a PLUS. Thinking of Natalie and Jacques actually dating is UDDER nonsense. Maybe they met when she was the black swan. :) In any case, it would have been something of a GIGIesque romance, as she had just turned 16 when he died in 1997.

ELSINORE was a nice longish down ("To be, or not to be" soliloquy setting), but its partner in the north (IWANTYOU (Wartime poster phrase)) had less LILT.

If I said the list of crosswordese in this puzzle was ENT LYS, it would be a LYE, but tho there isn't exactly a TON, there's not none: ARP, SSN, GPA, ETA, UNEETON. Only epee and eel are AWOL. :) Speaking of which, I haven't seen an eel in the puzzle for quite some time - unless one slipped by me.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017, John Guzetta


Today's theme is personally apt - APT! Horace and I are going to see a baseball game tonight. I'm hoping that most of the WHIFFSOFSCANDAL, or otherwise, fall to the visiting team's lot, but in sports, there ARNO real guarantees. We'll see which team will GODOWNSWINGING.

The energy of the theme answers is supported by quite a bit of punchy fill like SPEWCHAOSDIRKSTYEWORF, and STAN (kidding about that last one). We also seem to have a Huygensesque mini theme going on with SPANKKINKY, and, dare I say, ANAL? He might also enjoy SOL and PREALGEBRA, if he's not too mad that there is a thing called PREALGEBRA.

NOLE (Florida State athlete, maybe) and SEGO (State flower of Utah) were not this FAN's FAVORITEs, but it's FEIN.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017, Brian Greer


Happy anniversary to "The Philosopher's Stone"! I can't believe it's been 20 years since the first Harry Potter novel was published. Although, I didn't get on the HP bandwagon right out of the gate. I started reading the books after volume 4 came out, when it was no longer possible to communicate with the nieces and nephews if one didn't. :)

In addition to the two theme-related fifteens (THEPHILOSOPHERS and DANIELRADCLIFFE), we have the STONE standing in the middle plus two non-theme clues that end up making HARRY POTTER appear across the bottom of the puzzle. The constructor conjured up some real hocus pocus to get Ms. Rowling's initials to materialize (38A. Alphabet chunk after D-E-F (GHIJK)) - otherwise an almost unforgivable groaner, even on a Monday. The J and K were circled, along with all the letters in 39A. Column's counterpart (ROW) and the LING of LINGO (40A. Specialist's vocabulary) to complete the author's name: J. K.  Rowling. DARWIN also pops up in the grid along with Rowling, possibly making a micro category of authors whose books have been banned.

There are a few good non-theme clues I wand to call out:
12A. Person in a detached state? (ALASKAN) - apt!
52D. Subject of a long sentence? (LIFER) - ha!

To pull this theme out of the hat, a few answers got SAWed in half including  9D. Biblical verb ending (ETH) and 63D. Comparative suffix (IER). Some of the other spells were more shortened: TBA, TSA, ABA, AWOL, AHOT, and ASNEAT. It's an anniversary BASH, tho, so it's OK.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017, Jacob Stulberg


VEGETABLESHORTENING is the revealer for today's theme. The vegetables BEET, CORN, KALE, CHIVE, TOMATO, and OKRA are squashed into rebus squares in six longer answers. [CH][IV]E was a weird one because it included one letter that wasn't rebused, unlike the rest. This kind of theme makes me wonder where the constructor got the idea for the puzzle in the first place. Was it noticing that COSMOKRAMER contained the word OKRA, or the fact that the word TOMATO appears in SYMPTOMATOLOGY? It's a fine theme, but there's no connection between the vegetable and the clue/answer in which it is found, which makes it less entertaining than some.

My iPad was on the fritz (it's better now, thank you), so Horace and I did this puzzle together on his iPad on the porch of the family beach cottage. Our niece helped us with 4D. NALA (Lion in "The Lion King")  - apparently Scar was another potential candidate - and, as she hails from those parts, Minnesota's state bird (LOON).

I couldn't help thinking that Huygens might have wanted a different answer for 109D. Ta-tas (BYES).

Here are a few answers to which I say AMEN:
121A. Like those who really have guts? (OBESE) - funny.
80D. Do House work (LEGISLATE) - nice not-so-hidden capital
36D. Many a character on "The Big Bang Theory" (TREKKIE) - same.

I was ATSEA when it came to British politician Farage (NIGEL). And I think extreme UNCTION should be called on OVATE (14A. Like most grapes). I would prefer people ovoid that word. :)


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday, June 24, 2017, Stu Ockman


Despite the rather high number above, I filled in the grid with relative EASE for a Saturday, until I hit the south east. I spent at least half the time struggling with my CORSELET and ALTEREGO. And, while I obviously found this corner challenging, it was, ulitmately, when solved, a little DAYTODAYesque.

There was some NEET fill. I love the expression on the DOLE, though the condition it describes is less appealing. AMBLE is a nice word, but the clue (Many a nature walk) left me hearing crickets. 8D. Company with striking footware (TAPDANCERS) had a little twist to it, but nothing to write home about. Often, clues seemded to lack payoff, e.g. 36D. Like tailgates and trapdoors (HINGED) and 2D. Some whipped creams (AEROSOLS). Meh. Maybe it's just me. At 19A, there's a clue with a question mark, usually indicating a little twist (Bean in a pod?). I got it (ALAN) but I don't get it.

I thought it was odd that the puzzle included both ALAN (as mentioned above),= and ALAR (Now-regulated growth regulator) as well as LAALAA (One of the Teletubbies) and LALA (Karaoke stand-in?).

I realized with some disappointment that New Age retreats is another category of things I'm going to have to brush up on.
I HOPETOGOD that's the last one. :)

Overall, I wanted to get my YAYAS out, but I couldn't.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017, James Mulhern and Ashton Anderson


A Friday puzzle that was obviously right in my wheelhouse and/or this one got assigned to the wrong day. The 16 minute bracket is way below my Friday average, and 16:11 is only 7 seconds slower than Tuesday's time. Maybe they didn't put enough tri in the TRIAGE this week. :)

We have some nice stacks of three ten-letter words in the north east and south west. My favorite might be 16A. Question often asked after twirling (HOWDOILOOK).

The stacks were surrounded by some amusing fill - not quite enough to BUSTAGUT, but enjoyable. Some of my favorites were
5D. One going everyhere on foot? (SHOE) - ha!
36A. Like a pact with the devil (UNHOLY), aptly crossed with ANTIPOPE - Apt!
38A. Jobs in tech (STEVE) - very smooth hidden capital.
39A. Subject of a 1984 mockumentary - who doesn't like a reference to SPINALTAP? No one doesn't.
30. "O" follower (CANADA) - good old America, Jr.
3D. Antic (MADCAP) and 25D. Bop (CONK)- excellent words.
And a fine pair of Sycophants at 9D and 40D: TOADY and LAPDOG.

There were a few answers I wasn't GOOGOOGAGA over. I'm not a big fan of gun-related clues, so starting right off at 1A with AMMO didn't thrill me, although the clue is clever enough. B. At 21A. Coffee shop freebies for LIDS seemed a bit misleading, and not in a good way. 7D. Baby animal in a parable in II Samuel (EWELAMB) seemed a bit over the top - ewe AND lamb?


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017, Ruth Bloomfield Margolin


I enjoyed the puzzle overall, but today's theme didn't do much for me. Each answer was a common expression featuring a body part connected by an action. In the puzzle the verb appeared in the middle connecting the two parts. For example, FACEMEETFACE, which was kind of funny. The drawback was once you got one of the theme answers, it gave a lot away about all the others.

The puzzle contained a nice mix of things that are quite familiar to me: OWEN (Meaney, A Prayer for), SEUSS, ONEAL, GANDHI (of course), AZKABAN, AAAMAP, and PEETA, and others were completely unknown to me. I have never heard of the Israeli resort city EILAT.  I also had no idea that APHIDs produce honeydew when they feed on plant sap. And to think they make melons out of that! And I have known some colossal bores in my time, but had not yet run across a TIDAL bore.

OUTDOORSY is a nice entry. Initiates badly? (HAZES) is clever. and 27A. One flying during the holiday season, informally (STNICK) is cute.

I wonder if Ms. Margolin is from the mid-West. I haven't heard Chicago referred to as CHI-Town since my time in Wisconsin. Or, maybe she's a librarian and the puzzle was timed for the big annual American Library Association meeting in the Windy City. Or maybe not. :)

I didn't eyeseeeye with the constructor on every clue. I thought both STEAD and Place at 47A were kind of bland. And there must be something I'm not getting about 45A. Joins hands? (CLASPS). Why the question mark?

And, speaking of questions, why did LIEINS ever go out of fashion? I could use one right now. :)


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017, Bruce Haight


Today's theme features a quartet of butterflies formed from the black squares in the middle of the puzzle and a set of four words, one in each corner of the puzzle, that when paired with the word butterfly, complete the answers. The revealer at 35A. explains it all and puts, BUTTERFLY, smack dab in the center of the puzzle. I thought it might have been funny if the clue for 8A. were Puccini Optera. Too much?

I was all aflutter over some of the quality fill today. :) My favorite might be 15A. Add salt to the wound (RUBITIN). Apt! I also enjoyed 29D. Pole workers' creations (TOYS) - clever mislead! - 26A. OK summer hrs. (CDT) - amusing - and, perhaps oddly, 16A. Prepare for a physical (DISROBE) - ha! (but not really). The anagramaticity of ERA at 24A followed immediately by EAR at 25A was cool. I also enjoyed the new school/old school means of connectivity at 59 and 61 across: GOVIRAL / HOTLINE.

It took me too long to parse the clue at 4D. (Wounds at Pamplona, say - GORES). I kept trying to think of the Spanish word for wound. Ai ai ai!

Only two answers didn't exactly take wing for me: 44D. Pertaining to aircraft technology (AVIONIC) and 60A. Stephen of "Citizen X" but otherwise I thought the puzzle was FAB.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017, Jason Flinn


I dropped in MANCHESTERUNITED like I wrote the clue myself and SOUTHBYSOUTHWEST was no problem, but I did have to resort to the old sing-song pattern to get MISSISSIPPIDELTA spelled correctly. I did not go so far as the old 'M I crooked letter crooked letter I crooked letter crooked letter I humpback humpback I,' but, I could have. :) What do these three 16-letter theme answers have in common, you ask? Well, they hint at arrival and departure locales. Sweet.

I got a little hung up in the southeast because I first entered ASHcan instead of ASHBIN at 43D. and I am not familiar with actress DEBI Mazar of "Entourage," but I sorted myself out eventually.

I liked the anagram at 49A. Bush, or an anagram of BUSH plus one letter (SHRUB). Also enjoyed "Like the group you're in if you're out, for short" clue at 40D. (LGBT). And Applesauce meaning HOKUM is a new one on me (31A).

Horace and I agreed that CUESTA (Hill that's steep on one side and gentle on the other) was a bit of an outlier for a Tuesday. Some of the 18 three-letter words left a little to be desired, like TRA, TIL, and EDA, but not every answer can be one's PRIDEANDJOY.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017, Susan Gelfand


Entertaining theme today - combining the last names of two singers creates a common expression. My favorite is PAGETURNER (Singers Patti and Tina?) because a student named Paige who worked for me until recently told me she wanted to marry a man with the last name Turner so she could be Paige Turner. I also liked URBANLEGEND (Singers Keith and John?). The theme puts me in mind of wedding and engagement announcements that are printed with the future bride and groom's last names at the top. We have one excellent example from Horace's father that read Lowd-Noyes. :)

In addition to the fun theme, there was some good dictionary LOOT, with Gs and Bs GALORE: GALLS, GRIME, and SLOG, plus BLEW, BALMSBONY, and BLING. Va-va-VOOM!

A few clue/answer pairs were less than PARFAITS including "From what IVE seen ..." at 20A and Govt. rules (REGS) at 21D, but nothing to get in a SNIT about. I thought 37D. Tool part used to create holes (DRILLBIT) could have had a better clue, like maybe 'Jumping Jack or push up, e.g.' And speaking of alternative clues, how about 'Puts the family on a diet?' for THINSKIN? Ha! I challenge you, dear readers, to come up with a clever clue for UVEA. I really wish constructors would turn a blind eye to that one.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017, Sam Trabucco

Silent Treatment

This one was quite a substantial puzzle - perhaps as a treat for all those crossword solving fathers out there. Not being a father myself, and thus unable to relax with my feet up today, I found it a trifle long, but not unenjoyable.

Our theme answers today feature a silent letter within a well-known phrase that, when ignored, makes the answer match the clue. The same letter, in the downs, performs its usual task of indicating a word's history while remaining silent. I thought 98A was the funniest because the clue was so PC while also expressing pushy pants behavior. "Excuse me, but my partner's and my kids go first!" (AFTERHOURS). GIVESADAMN (Donates shelter to some beavers?) at 41A was also kinda funny. In reviewing all the theme answers, I realize now that I'm not sure what a TAROTSPREAD is. Is that a real thing? Like a card reading?

The silent letter theme got me thinking about the excellent old "Silent E" song by Tom Lehrer. I found it, but I also found this "Easy Reader" video from The Electric Company. I recommend it.

Anywhoo, I enjoyed a couple of the 'expression' clues including 67A. "What nerve!" (THEIDEA) and 82D. "Oh, boohoo!" (GETOVERIT). It was also nice to learn about LOQUAT (Asian plumlike fruit), TYGA (Popular rapper with a feline-sounding name), and ANDONE (Single shot awarded for being fouled while scoring, in basketball lingo).

Huygens will probably like 74D. Some Mardi Gras wear (BEADS).

In the BUTS department, I'm not too sure about AQUACAR at 3 down (Amphibious auto). Seems like a made up word. And, at the risk of being too POINTY, I will mention another awkward plural SAYSOS (13D. Powers to decide). BLEH.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017, Ryan McCarty


You may, dear reader, be wondering about the + following my time above. I was stuck on the three-letter answer at 27D. Believe. I had the U from QUAKERS, but didn't know Sibling trio in "Hamilton" (SCHUYLERSISTERS) at 33A, nor Whole note, to a Brit (SEMIBREVE - they have a different word for *everything*) at 26A. And, seeing as I was coming over all peckish anyway, I closed up the puzzle and headed to the town center for some cheesy comestibles. As I walked, I started running the alphabet for both unknown letters and, before too long, thankfully, I came across BUY and knew that was it. It was in this wise that I got a lot of puzzle thinking in without adding a single tick to the clock. I'm not sure how cricket that is.

I was, in point of fact, a little surprised to have been able to successfully complete this puzzle at all. I count 14 names and words I am not familiar with - most as answers, but some in the clues as well - quadrels for example, but still I BEATIT. :) One name I did know, thanks to Horace, was TEASDALE (Poet Sara who wrote "I Shall Not Care" at 25D.

There was some good fill today. I enjoyed TOURNIQUET at 4D - the answer more so than the clue (Flow stopper, of a sort - meh). Group of 100 people (SENATE) was interesting and IMRICH for "Jackpot" at 43D was fun. Goes for the bronze? (SUNS) was cute. 40D. and 24A. Practice composition? : Abbr. (DRS) was a clever clue for an age-old abbreviation. My favorite clue, although I don't generally like a "with" clue, was 50D. Generates, with "up" (GINS). I love that expression.

The wearying work of puzzle crafting brought us two awkward plurals (or three if you count words in the clues): 57A. Equilibria (STASES) and 29D. Some pyramids, though not the ones at Giza (TETRAHEDRA). Also, one possibly unnecessary plural at 16A. Austrian treats (STRUDELS). Isn't strudel one of those words that is the same in singular and plural? I'm not sure about that, but I am sure that the more you say or type the word strudel, the weirder it seems.

I like the idea behind the clue at Meal maker? at 1A, but not the answer so much. I'm sure you can make meal in a PESTLE, but it's a little far out for me. I would have preferred mill as the answer. B-

I did not like 5D. Preserves covers? It just seemed like more convolution and obfuscation than the answer (LIDS) is worth. I also did not enjoy 58A. Call of Duty tally (DEATHS) - that's supposed to be a game? It TESTS my patience.

BABAR for now.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017, Zhouqin Burnikel


The DNF streak is over, at least for the time being. Let's never speak of it again.

This puzzle kicks off with a nice TWISTS, which was, to me, a surprising alternative to olives. I had tried capers and onions there first. Not to be outdone, 1D. had a little twist of its own - a hidden capital. I thought of Mr. Swift fairly quickly, but I couldn't get to TRACTS until I had cleared away the capers and onions.

Other answers with nice twists were Went for a run (BATTED, 7A), Spanish spread (RANCHO, 13A), and Situation with no up side (TIE, 20A) - which I just got now when I re-read it - ha!

The grid featured some entertaining modern-day vocabulary and expressions. I liked GENDERFLUID (moving between male and female, 29A), LEGIT (Not bogus, 23A), and OVERIT (past the point of caring, 59A), to name three. BIGIF was also good. My favorite might be SECRETSAUCE.

In another twist, on the clue side of things, it was nifty to have Vulgarian at 49D just above Bulgarian, e.g. at 50D. (BOOR/SLAV).

I didn't find much to BOOAT, although I could have done without being reminded of John TESH. One of the two eleven-letter answers (HEATSENSORS for toaster components) was a little on the bland side. MANN and OPI (Popular nail polish brand) were on the obscure side -at least to me - but gettable with the downs - for once.  :|


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Thursday, June 15, 2017, Richard F. Mausser


I thought the theme was fun, and the puzzle played pretty easy overall, but the bottom tier had some POOP in it. Well, for me anyway. I got completely stuck on the TO_O/O_AI cross. I was not aware of OJAI. My tourism tends to be in a more easterly direction. But my history knowledge was not easterly enough, as I was also unfamiliar with Mr. TOJO.

Also in that neck of the woods, I thought 52D. Former Cleveland Orchestra conductor George (SZELL) was a little much, especially when a person had to know there was another whole category of nurses (LPNS). If there's one thing that doing the NYTX puzzle makes clear to me, is that there's a lot I don't know.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017, Andrew Zhou


Things went from CHABAD to worse for me with this one. I had numerous problems in the north, both mid and east. I put PAgE in where PANE was called for - a classic non-philatelist mistake, according to Horace. That put a dent in my ability to figure out 5D. Access (TAPINTO) as did putting "trade" in at 6D. Bum ___ (ARIDE). I wasn't helped over there by my lack of familiarity with FRITOPIE - a gap in my experience that I feel no need to fill. However, I did eventually see my way clear, only to encounter additional problems a little east of there. Having 15D. Jewish organization known for its outreach work cross 16D. Capital of Qatar (I had to GOOGLEIT) which crossed with 24A. Syllable in oldies songs (SHu, anyone?) really put the N in my DNF. In all, not a good outing for Frannie.

On the upside, I had no trouble with, and enjoyed the theme - BYGEORGE - a nice set of five works authored by people named George. Apt! If I had to pick a favorite, it would be MIDDLEMARCH.

I liked 62A. Ardor (FIRE), and IONESCO 40A. Playwright Eugène - you don't see him every day.

1A. Terra ____ (old name for Newfoundland) NOVA. It's really still kind of the same name, isn't it? B-

I thought it was a little bit funny that a clue with the word Bush in it (36A) appeared just above DECISIONPOINTS.

I don't usually use the strong language, but I hated the clue at 54A. Wifey, with "the" (MRS). No bueno.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017, Lynn Lempel


Based on today's puzzle, I'd say Ms. Lempel is a woman of letters. She gives us six theme answers that are common words or expressions that include a letter of the alphabet, redefined with the letters spelled out to make a word. For example, at 29A we have Invoice from a souvenir shop? (TEEBILL). My favorite of the theme answers was CUEBERT, because Ernie. (Wasn't qbert some kind of early computer game?) DEEFLAT is amusing, as a terse performance review, and GEESTRINGS would be funny if someone actually said it under the stated circumstances.

My favorite clue/answer overall today was 66A. Unlike the proverbial rolling stone (MOSSY). I also liked 60D. Maniacal leader? (EGO) - ha! Other EXEMPLARs of fill I enjoyed:
64A. Decisive defeat (ROUT)
9D. Market oversupply (GLUT)

Not much about the puzzle got me IREd up. No one loves an ATTY or AMTS, especially of Rx dosages, but USB a real CAPGUN to make a fuss about a couple of innocuous abbreviations on a Tuesday.



Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday, June 12, 2017, Dan Margolis


Twelve minutes+ on a Monday is nothing to write home about, but ending up with a 12:12 on the 12th is kinda cool. Maybe I can keep the dodecal theme alive and come up with a dozen things to say about the puzzle.

1. I thought the theme, BOYMEETSGIRL, was cute (BILLYCRYSTAL, RAULJULIA, JOHNCANDY). I wonder if there are any Girl Meets Boy equivalents. If it weren't so hot out right now, I might be able to come up with some. [Some minutes later] I did think of one: Meg Ryan. Oh, and how about Sandy Duncan? Remember her?

2. 1A Skilled (ADEPT) is solid: B+

3. I liked DAUB and SUDS in the middle north.


5. I liked the RIFT/RIFFS cross in the deep south east, although I would have liked a RIFT / RIFFed pairing even better.

6. How about the all-but-one-letter double double in the mid west with JAMJAR and OLEOLE? It crossed my mind that another possibility there could have been JArJAR and OLEOLE except that nobody likes to be reminded of that foolish Gungan from Naboo.

7. Oh yes, the reason I took so long to finish the puzzle was because of the cross at 22D/24A where my thinking was not too sharp and my early ideas fell flat. If I had come up with AMAJ (22D. Key of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7: Abbr.) sooner, I coda been a contender. I've never heard of AMATOL (24A. Powerful explosive).

8. There were a number of three-letter answers in the north east and south west, but not much poo in the bin, so to speak. NEO CON is probably the worst, but mainly because we see it so often.

9. I love the word BERSERK (43D. Crazy).

10. Watchdog org.? at 32A was clever, but I wasn't duped, especially after Lab grp. (AKC) last Friday.

11 & 12. Starting at 10D. we have UVULA sitting atop UVEA at 37D, which I thought was kind of gross (see what I did there? :).


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sunday, June 11, 2017, Charles M. Deber

Think Twice

The theme gave us a number of items throughout the puzzle that each fit into two categories that were also answers in the puzzle. One of the categories, for example, was BRIDALTHINGS, which included SHOWER and TRAIN. SHOWER was also included in the well-known and oft-discussed category of WEATHERWORDS. TRAIN's second category was MEANSOFTRAVEL. I imagine there was a certain level of complexity in getting it all to work - it certainly seemed too complex for my app which failed to highlight some of the theme material - but for this solver, it lacked afflatus.

The focus on the multi-partite theme had, as a side effect, a somewhat ho hum grid. There were a few clue/answer pairs I liked including the following:
37D. Is on the brink (VERGES)
45D. Hall of fame (ARSENIO) - cute, but it can't be this one's first time around the block
85D. Guide to studying the night sky (STARMAP) - I like a gander skywards myself
86D. What "Mc-" means in a name (SONOF) - full disclosure, I may have added an A at the end in my head.

Unfortunately, there were rather more clues and answers that didn't suit:
50A. Silver, for example, in the opening of TV's "The Lone Ranger" (REARER) - grimace inducing.
46D. A mere stone's throw from (NEAR) - seems a little far to go for such a short answer
4D. Writer/critic James and family (AGEES) - tired crosswordese made worse by the awkward pluaral.
38D. Passed quickly (FLEETED) - hunh?
48D. Fatty acid compound (OLEATE) - ick.
56D. Heights of achievement (GLORIES) - maybe in ancient Greece.
76D. Word of wonder (GOSH) - for whom?
94D.  Need for a professional designer (TASTE) - hardly.

Hot on the trail of more mini-themes, I noticed a little gambling trifecta. In addition to the informative 99D. Highest score in baccarat (NINE), it included two answers that might have additional relevance to the puzzle. The constructor, upon successfully completing this challenging venn diagram of a puzzle, might have had the same reaction as at 98D. Excited cry in a casino (IWON). I was feeling more like 7D. (HITME, Twenty-one words).


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017, Mark Diehl


A nice mix of clever twists and fun fill, starting with a 1A that worked on several levels: a hidden capital, a twist, and an out-of-the-ordinary answer (MENACHEM). A+. Judging by my time today, this was less TAXING than a typical Saturday. I had filled in all but one square at the 28 minute mark. I got hung up at 34A. It's got teeth. I put sAW right in and kept it for a long time - I was sure it was correct - but I couldn't make heads nor tails of sUNKART. I ran the alphabet on the troublesome "s" square, although I know some look ASKANCE at that technique, and came up with JAW/JUNKART for the big finish.

The puzzle featured some excellent no-question-mark clues, like everyone likes in a Saturday puzzle:
24A. Two stars, perhaps (ITEM) - Alist clue for a commonly seen entry.
25A. Very old school (ETON) - ha!
10D. Bright camp wear (BOAS) - my favorite.

There were also some amusing question mark clues:
41A. Fitting coffee order on a submarine? (SANKA) - LOL
49A. Number one advocate? (EGOIST)
7D. Forerunner in a race? (EVE) - I filled this one in with crosses and I didn't even get it until I reviewed the puzzle for the review.

Other nice puzzle fill:
32A. Separate, as strands of hair (TEASEAPART)
24D. Running around with one's hair on fire (INAPANIC)

I couldn't help but think of Huygens at both 30A. Danger for a hiker (BEARATTACK) and 36D. "Are you kidding me?" (WHATTHE). He probably liked ICEGIANT as well (47A. Uranus or Neptune).

I wasn't super HAPPYMEAL (unlike millions of others) with a few clue/answer pairs.
42A. Ruin (END)
43A. Stopwatch ticks; Abbr. (SECS)
25D. Abbr. in a bibliographic citation (ETAL)
They were all fine, but not *fine* if you see what I mean. :)


Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017, Steve Overton


As I type, we are en route to Maine for the weekend. Apparently, so is everyone else in New England. :( On the upside, the drive has given me the opportunity to finish the puzzle and write the review so that when we arrive I can get right down to the serious business of drinking. And, speaking of drinking, it seemed to me that there was a mini drinking theme among today's clues and answers, including 23A. Small drinks (NIPS), 46A. Seltzer, e.g. (MIXER), e.g.), and 23D. Chase with a drink (WASHDOWN). I noticed what I thought were a couple of other mini themes, as well, that is assuming three or more related answers make a mini theme.

Cars: DASHCAM (1A. B+ fine word, I just don't take a dash cam), ELANTRA, and, appropriately (sadly), SNARLS

I really enjoyed a number of clue/answer pairs in this puzzle.
29A. Unit of brilliance? (CARAT)
45A. Long-distance call? (YODEL)
11D. Mass number (AVEMARIA) - Ha!
28D. Markers (CHITS) - I love this word.
But my vote for most clever clue goes to 41A. Really long (ACHE). Beautiful.

My list of dislikes is short:
Apple apparatus (CORER) - I found it kind of unapeeling. :)


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thursday, June 8, 2017, David Steinberg


Boy o boy that NE corner was a bear! I guessed CLAPTON off the clue (that list is bullshit), but ADELIE (14A: Penguin species) and SONARS (16A: They make waves in the ocean) (derp), were not exactly gimmies.

I wish I could give 1A an A, but... well... I don't know, it's almost begging for an A, which is why I can't give it one. Let's say B+.

Oh, by the way, this is Horace. Frannie and I went out to the North End straight after work. We had martinis at Caffé Paradiso and then spent a couple hours at Pizzeria Regina, and on the way home she asked me if I would like to "guest review." So here we are. I'm a little tipsy, and I'm a little surly.

I do not like GUARANTY. Variants are seldom welcome, and are less so when they arrive unannounced. I don't much like DIDICONN either, but she did play "Cupcake" on the animated show "The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang" (1980-1981), so I can't be too upset.

On the upside, I enjoyed SHEBANG (6D: "Whole" amount), PERMEATE (15A: Diffuse through), and CAPITALQ (36A: MapQuest feature). And how many of you had EsCHER for 40A: Impressionist artist? before you realized that "8D: Extreme fandom" was "ADORATION?" Come on, it wasn't just me!

Nobody has ever said POPTABS (38D: Soda can features) have they? Maybe "pop tops," maybe "pull tabs," but "pop tabs?" Never.

OK, Frannie might add more to this eventually, so I'll sign off now. See you next month!

- Horace

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wednesday, June 7, 2017, Timothy Polin


It's hit after hit with this puzzle! Which is an odd twist for such a low-key, revealerless theme. (Full disclosure: I used Horace as my personal revealer. TMI?) Five across answers include a slang word for hitting someone: SLUG, BELT, BOP, SOCK, CUFF. It puts me in mind of a great bit in The Philadelphia Story. Katherine Hepburn's mother in the movie keeps trying to improve the vocabulary of her younger daughter. Here's the relevant excerpt:
DINAH: Maybe he's going to sock her.
MRS LORDS: Don't say 'sock,' darling. 'Strike' is quite an ugly enough word.

Overall, a fairly straightforward Wednesday with only a touch of trouble for me at 11D. Hardy work shoe feature (STEELTIP). I am more familiar with steel toe shoes, but BLITZKRIEGBOe isn't a Ramones album. That I know of.

Interesting start with ASHHEAPS at 1A - something you don't see everyday. At least, I hope not. :)

I had a few favorites a little farther along in the puzzle;
27A. Not allowing sales of alcohol (DRY) - so New England.
37A. Wade noisily (SLOSH) - it's kind of the opposite of dry in 2 ways.
37D. Walk with an awkward gait (SHAMBLE) - funny word.
49A. "I've seen better" (MEH) - nice clue/answer parallelism.
And how about 14D. Keister (BUTT)? There GOES the neighborhood!

I thought there was a rather high number of verb + preposition combos in the grid today: ATEIN, SOLDTO, SETON, NOTIN, HADIT, CALLEDTO, FEASTON. They just seemed to BLAREOUT at me. 

I thought 2D. Granite ______ (New Hampshire resident) STATER was kind of a WOOFER (I hope that isn't HERESY coming from a New Englander), but not much else struck me the wrong way.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017, Lisa Loeb and Doug Peterson


Well, I don't usually do it, but today I looked at the Wordplay blog before writing this review. I did it because the little i on my crossword app blinked at me when I opened the puzzle. That usually happens only when the publisher thinks the solver needs some additional info, so I tapped the i, but found only a note saying more information about the making of today's puzzle was available in the crossword column of the paper, which, unless I am mistaken, is the case every day. However, I gamely went where I had never gone before and looked at the today's post. Apparently, one of the two constructors is famous. Sheltered as I am from much modern media, I'd heard only of Mr. Peterson. :) But, I learned from the column that Lisa Loeb is a singer with a 1994 platinum-selling No. 1 hit, “Stay (I Missed You). From this I conclude that this puzzle is another in the series of puzzles co-constructed with celebrities. Also, now, the theme - three songs titles, which may or may not include puns (I don't know any of them) -seems apt. Apt!

Other musical references in the puzzle swelled the chorus: CLAUDE Debussy, ELO, Dr. DRE, DUO (Hall & Oates, for example), Jazzy DELLA Reese, SIDEA (Hit home?), and maybe even "The LION King." That has music in it, doesn't it?

On to the rest of the puzzle!

There were several nice question mark clues, or QMC's, today. My favorite: 18A. Duck for cover? (EIDER), but 59A. Go out for a while? DOZE, and 29D. Foster child in "Freaky Friday" (JODIE) - ha! - were also good. I enjoyed the entries SNARL and UPROARIOUS as well.

I mis-read the clue at 5D. as Addam's family member and couldn't fill it in at the time. It eventually filled itself in through the crosses (ABEL). Little bit of a difference there. :)


Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017, Paul Coulter


Even though the TIRE theme - eight circled Os representing a bad thing to blow - one of the many! - left me a little flat, I did think there were some zippy clues for some airless old answers like 64A. Soothing succulents (ALOES), 51A. Busy bee in Apr. (CPA), and 69A. Some whistle blowers (REFS).

On the other hand, I was pumped about JILT (9A), ZESTS (3D) - despite the pesky pluralizing - and TESLACOIL, which just sounds cool to me.

Did anyone else watch Bonanza back in the day? 37D reminded me of an episode in which Hoss is out looking for leprechauns and Little Joe sneaks up on him. There are a lot of YOOHOOS in the scene. A Bonanza of Yoohoos

Other good grid grist: EFFIGY, TROPE, MOLT, MANGY, SETTO, TOR, COOT, and INANE.
However, we aren't getting out of here without a TSK or two. I didn't like the clue for 27D. Lasso loop (NOOSE); it seems weird to think of a lasso being used for a noose. I though CANIO at 32D was a bit of a stretch for a Monday, although the crosses were all fine. (Mr. Amory might (or might not :) have enjoyed 49A TOESHOES in that section of the puzzle). And maybe the truncated (If) NEEDBE at 47D isn't ideal, but there was more good than bad, to my eye.

Oh yes, and I'm boffo for BOZO! And Doofus for that matter (1A). :) I give it an APLUS.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sunday, June 4, 2017, Tom McCoy

Advice to Writers

35:22, FWOE - I had SeA for SPA at 42A at first and didn't check 43D. :(

I enjoyed this puzzle. It has that nice clue-to-answer precision that suits me. I thought COMPASS at 1A was a solid start for a Sunday puzzle. 1D was even better: CAN for Give the ax. Classic! :)

The theme, though a little obvious, entertained me. My favorite theme answer was NOSENTENCEFRAGMENTS. An error I will do my best to avoid in today's review. I chuckled when I realized 104A was AVOIDREDUNDANCY after I had already completed its duplicate at 116A. I was a little unhappy with 33A because I wasn't sure if Jungian inner self was ANIMe or ANIMA, and the unPOOFed cross was no help there. Luckily, I guessed correctly. Anywhooo, I don't want to complain too much because this puzzle WORMED its way into my AORTAL.

I loved 63 down, It's mined, all mined! both for itself and as a nice twist on an oft-seen answer (ORE), and, possibly, as a commentary on the bleak state of the earth's natural resources. Too much? :)

Other PET answers:
8A. One not acting alone (COSTAR) - clever.
62A. Band aids (AMPS) - nice twist.
82A. Flew off the handle (LOSTIT) - we've all been there.
32D. Anticipatory days (EVES) - interesting clue for this one.
103D. Gently towel (PATDRY) - apt!
117D. Mike's confectionery partner (IKE) - Ha!
And how about the William Carlos William wheelbarrow reference at 119D (RED). Coincidence, or are Messrs. McCoy and Shortz reading this blog?!?!?

I imagine Huygens enjoyed 53D. Like a good proof (SOUND). And
Horace might be pleased to learn that I dropped in UTAH at 55A like a Geography Bee champion.

In a puzzle this large, we can't expect every answer to be a HOLEINONE. We RESEED some old friends from the crosswordese CANON like ODE, OER, OCA, and the aforementioned ORE, in addition to a fair number of abbreviations, but overall, I really LEICA'd this one.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017, Roland Huget

1:01:45, FWOE

The middle and south east were a WIZ, but the north west was a NOWIN for me. I've never heard of a FARPOST, so I put in bARPOST thinking that's maybe what they call the top back part of the goal, but as soon as I saw bASCIAS, I realized it was supposed to be FASCIAS. Derp. That was my only FWOE, but it wasn't my only problem. My knowledge of last century baseball trivia is a little thin. Oh yes, it turns out I'm weak on my Amazon rodents and Spanish muralists as well. I had lEtPASs instead of SEEPAST at 14D for a long time - my apologies to Jose Maria. I also had a tough time coming to grips with SAUCERS for Cup holders at 23A. Maybe I had too much TAPIOCA (Thickening agent in cookery) for breakfast this morning.

On the upside (?), I was able to drop PRIE in at 37A (____-dieu) like a champ. :) And, thanks to my dear sister-in-law, the second answer I was sure of was ARECIBO.

My favorite clue/answer in this puzzle might be SASS for Unwelcome comeback at 7D. It's funny because it's true. I liked SCAREUP for Gather with difficulty at 3D. I also liked AIRHORN (6D), which is much nicer in a puzzle than in real life. A couple of other cute ones: Not wasted for SOBER at 24D, Saucy name? ALFREDO at 47A, and who doesn't like a WEENIE roast (42D)?

From Wikipedia: Petula Clark holding Belafonte's arm, the first scene of physical contact between a black man and a white woman to appear on US television, April 1968. (
I will now make the case that either the author of this puzzle, or the editor, or both were maybe a little distracted when they went to press with it. First of all, UNALERT? Second of all AREAWAY? Third of all (and then I'll rest) IDEATE?


Friday, June 2, 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017,John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins


Sorry about the late, late review today, but it was a tough day at the office and then right out to dinner and a show. The show was a wonderful performance of Gilbert & Sullivan's Patience, but that's not the review you called me here for.

Most of the puzzle went right along for me, but for me, the north west was not ASEASYASPIE. I didn't know that horse racing fans call Churchill Downs MECCA, nor that MOBIL was once named Socony-Vacuum, nor that there's a palmlike tropicla plant called CYCAD. I did manage to guess correctly but I hemmed and hawed for more than just a SEC.

My favorite answer in today's puzzle might be MALLSANTA. IMATALOSS to say why, but there you go. I also enjoy the word VOLUNTOLD, but not the reality - see "tough day at the office" above. In that same neck of the woods,VIVID served as a striking reminder of one of my favorite movies, Auntie Mame. STARE for Vacancy sign? was clever, and probably the best ? clue in the puzzle. PARCH and JOT are also nice. I also thought it was funny that after stiff and shy in yesterdays' puzzle, today we get OWE. Somebody better start making some money.

My SCAPEGOATs for today are One devoted to Mary? (LAMB - weird), Uber app abbr. (AVE - lame), and Bears (HAS - hunh?).

I had better wrap this up if I am going to get it posted before midnight, or WOEISME!


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017, Derek Bowman and Sarah Keller


Heigh ho, Frannie here  - as if you hadn't already guessed by the tardiness and the dashed high numbers above. (I've just finished a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery in which I quite enjoyed the lingo.)

I am a little rusty at this review business after two months off, but with any luck and a little Easy Off, I'll be back out of the fire and into the frying pan before you know it.

Call me a square if you want to, but I'm not super happy when I open a puzzle and see circles. Figuring out how to parse the circled letters into THEWORLD took me a little minute at the end of the solve. That done, I'm not quite sure I get the point of the four sets, one each in a corner. If it's supposed to be four WORLDs circling the [SUN], then shouldn't it be just WORLD or aWORLD? Which brings to mind the old red wheel barrow. But, maybe it's four corners of THEWORLD? But those don't go around a sun. I'll have to ask Horace about it when next I see him. Or, perhaps one of our esteemed readers will enlighten me.

Anywhoo, I think the circles started me off on the wrong foot and I didn't have such a good feeling about the puzzle while I was doing it and after I finished it, but when I reviewed the clues and answers, I found some goods ones.  To wit:

5D. Leave nothing behind? (STIFF) - this one could double as Huygens material. Maybe ADRIENNE could, too.
56A. Owing (SHY) - what, did a bunch of cheapskates put this puzzle together? :)
48D. Makes sound (HEALS).

Also, RATHOLES, SADLOTS, and BITER are all nice, in a not-so-nice way, and ETRURIA at 15A. brought back some very pleasant memories of time spent in that part of THEWORLD. Ha!

There were a few of what I'd call NYETS in the grid, such as ASASON, ULNAR, TORO, DEW, AHL, or INKER, but perhaps others would stamp them FDA. That's just the way TIS in this world.