Saturday, September 30, 2017

Saturday, September 30, 2017, Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen

untimed, on paper

Today, solving the puzzle in the actual newspaper, on the last full day of our vacation at the seaside, with a full cup of coffee beside me, the first rain of the week tapping at the window behind, and the blue flames of the propane floor-heater softly purring in the next room, well, it was damn near perfect. It was almost unnecessary that the puzzle be any good after such a set-up, but happily, it was!

I don't think I've solved a puzzle on paper since the ACPT, but I really should do it more. I proceed much more cautiously, and it becomes more like a chess game where I try to hold as many possibilities in my head as I can, except that in the case of puzzles, there comes a time when the correct action is knowable, whereas in chess - for me anyway - that certainty never arrives. My first entry today was VARIETAL (1D: Chardonnay or merlot), which was supported by my initial assumptions on VOWED (1A: Swore) and ABIDES (13A: Stomachs), and pretty much confirmed by TEA (24A: Subject of a controversial tax, once). Once all that was in, the NW was quickly done.

IMEANREALLY (18A: "Oh come on") got me out of that quadrant (because LAKSHMI (32A: Hindu goddess of prosperity) sure wasn't going to!) but all I could really get off of that was the MAJOR part of 15D: Setting of "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik." I should probably have been able to guess that it was in G, but, well, when solving in pen, I'm not so willing to make that kind of a guess.

1A: Swore (VOWED) - B+ - It's a fine answer.
Favorite: 53A: Become lightheaded? (GOBLONDE). This got a chortle.
Least: MAYBES (42D: Some R.S.V.P.s) - I don't like this mostly because no one should RSVP as a maybe. Just make up your damn mind and commit already! One way or the other. Think of your poor hosts! Do they set two more places or not?!? They're already stressed out enough as it is without having to deal with you and your "What if something better comes along" attitude! Sheesh! Enough already!

Loved learning about PHLOX (27A: Flower whose name is Greek for "flame"), and RIJKSMUSEUM (49A: Home of Rembrandt's "The Night Watch") was great. Also loved PHSCALE (6A: 7 is in the middle of it) and VJDAY (46D: Time of surrender in '45) for their unexpected run of consonants. Didn't particularly love CENTUPLE, and it is far too painful to be reminded of the end of the OBAMAERA, but overall, this was a very enjoyable puzzle. A great end to a very strong Turn, and a fun month of reviewing. Either Colum or Frannie will take over tomorrow, I'm pretty sure, and I'll see you again in a month or two. Until then, Happy Puzzling!

- Horace

Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017, Damon Gulczynski


I was not AVERSE to this puzzle.

The NW corner was a little rough, but I guess that was necessary in order to keep the HOVERBOARDS (2D: Modern transports used while standing) and ITSNOBIGGIE (3D: "Nothing to get worked up about") pairing. It's a good pair, but I don't love MOT used for "zinger." Alone, it just means "word." What kind of a fop do you have to be to say MOT when you mean "bon mot?" And IVS isn't great, but farther down we get GENDERBINARY (20A: Male-or-female) and AROUSE (22A: Electrify), both of which are strong.

I loved the clue for POACH (31A: Appropriate game), which had me wondering what made something appropriate for hunting. Instead it was inappropriate appropriation that they were talking about. Ha! And over in the SW, 36D: Float fixer (SODAJERK) and 45D: Mushroom producers (ABOMBS) gave me similar fits.

1A: Sushi bar fish (AHI) - C. I guessed "eel" here first, which helped nothing.
Favorite: APU (11D: "The Simpsons" character who claims he can recite pi to 40,000 places) - because it made me laugh out loud both when I first read it and then again just now as I typed it in.
Least: The aforementioned MOT.

There's a lot of good in this. OVERTHEHUMP (24D: No longer struggling) beside TELEKINESES (24D: No longer struggling) is another good pair of 11s, and the full PABLONERUDA (18A: Gabriel García Márquez called him "the greatest poet of the 20th century, in any language") is welcome in any puzzle. There's more, too, but I'll leave them for you to find.

Thumbs up!

- Horace

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017, Joe Krozel


What an odd, multipart theme today. First of all, there's that note again - which some of you do not see, apparently, and so may not fully realize that the puzzle is missing the letters C and Y in all but the central, revealer. Second of all, there's the PINATA hanging in the middle of the puzzle, filled with CANDY. Pretty nice. But when I got the revealer (even having read the note) I read it as more of a "sound" clue, and thought that the letters K and E would be missing. But then I saw many, many Es, and that one K from KTEL (58A: "Hooked on Classics" label), and I just put off thinking any more about it until after I was finished. An event that was only held up in any significant way by the NW quadrant, where I had entered "ubi" for "2D: Where: Lat." (QUO) (hmpf), which held things up for a while, but which I was forced to re-think after getting ULTIMATEFRISBEE (3D: Widely played sport developed at Amherst College in the 1960s). Ahh... ultimate... I'll probably need two total knee replacements in a few years, but 25 years of all-out ultimate was totally worth it.

1A: Fair (EQUITABLE) - A.
Favorite: Since I don't feel I can use ULTIMATEFRISBEE after going on about it above, I'll pick TOTEMPOLE (17A: Hierarchical structure, metaphorically)
Least: I guess I'll pick on NRA (26A: Org. with millions of members HQ'd in Fairfax, Va.) just for the fun of it.

I liked this odd duck of a puzzle. There's no symmetry, there's unchecked letters, there's total separation between left and right at the top, but overall, I came away with a smile. Even though I'd sooner say "Go jump in a lake" rather than GOJUMPINTHELAKE (12D: "Take a hike!"), and even though I put in "blond ale" before getting AMBERALE (53A: Light brown brew), and even thought I've never heard of TIMS (5D: Popular beige work boots, colloquially) ... it's all good.

Fun Thursday.

- Horace

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017, Jacob Stulberg


The THREERINGCIRCUS today consists of a "wire walker," a "fire dancer," and a "glass eater." Me, I guess I've seen a tightrope walker at a circus, but never the other two. And frankly, that last one seems more like a freak show act than a modern day circus act. Furthermore, is "three ring circus" really a phrase that people use?

1A: Power figure? (WATT) - B-.
Favorite: GRIFT (64A: Petty swindle)
Least: KER (51A: Lead-in to plop or plunk)

This puzzle wasn't for me. There was too much old fill, and the longer spots were not very exciting. TAXCLINIC (11D: Accountant's service for low-income individuals)? What is that? And why is it only for low-income individuals? And SELAH (9D: Interjection occurring frequently in Psalms) seems like kind of an outlier. I've never heard that word before in my life. Then there's all this ELOI, LDS, ESSES, AFLCIO, IED, ANC, MAA, and EFS.

MATADOR (39A: One waving a red cape) is good, and I liked GUILE (31A: Artful deception), but overall I did not enjoy this one too much.

- Horace

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017, Lynn Lempel and Joy Behar


So, I take it Ms. Behar is a comedian. I had a hunch she was somebody famous when I did not recognize her name as a constructor and saw her paired with Ms. Lempel, who usually works alone. Come to think of it, I think I may have seen her name in a grid somewhere along the way. OK, so we've established that she is someone most people will have heard of. Let's move on.

The comedian names worked into standard phrases are all quite good. PURPLEHART (17A: Comedian Kevin after having a sloppy jelly snack?) is a certainly on the fanciful side, but one could easily imagine BARRFIGHT (51A: Cause of comedian Roseanne's black eye?) coming straight from a news story. Heh.

In addition to the strong theme, we get four nine-letter Down answers that are all interesting. My favorite of those is NOTORIETY (32D: Achievement for Bernie Madoff or Al Capone). We also find plenty of interesting small stuff, like BLITZ (11D: Football rush), IMPEL (4D: Incite to action), STREW (8D: Scatter), HELIX (55D: Half of a genetic molecule), and PYLON (25D: Tall supporting tower).

1A: Fruity soft drink (NEHI) - C-. Starting off with an old standby. This answer has been used 79 times* since Will Shortz took over as editor of the puzzle, but this is the first time that this clue has been used, and it tricked me until I had the first two crosses.
Favorite: GOAPE (54D: What Tarzan's friends advised him to do?) - Hah!
Least: There's almost nothing to complain about in this puzzle, so I'm not going to do it!

Very strong Tuesday. My only real trouble came at the cross of SUSIE and LOIS, and sometimes proper names can be tricky like that, but it was inferable, so I was able to finish without incident.

So far, so good this week. Just like we like.

- Horace

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017, Bruce Haight


An amusing start to the week, with rhyming two-word phrases. I smiled at all of them, but had the hardest time coming up with HOTSY/TOTSY (sophisticated). I don't know what that says about me, and I'll thank you not to opine on the subject. :)

My favorite answer today is CYYOUNG (24A: Award named for the winningest pitcher of all time) because, obvious as it is, I had not read the clue until after entering the double Y, and I was already starting to re-think 2D: Book that might require a key to open (DIARY). "Hmm... I've seen locks on old bibles, I think, and what about... nope, never mind, the clue has the word "pitcher" in it. We're good."

Not much long stuff, but BULLMOOSE (8D: Symbol of Teddy Roosevelt's political party) and FOURSPEED (33D: Like most manual transmissions in the 1970s and '80s) were fine. I enjoyed DIURNAL (43A: Active during the daytime), which crossed the fun SCULPTS (50A: Produces a large body of work?). TWIRL (34D: Spin, as a baton) was fancy, and MARTYRS (26A: Ones sacrificing for a cause) has that nice string of letters at the end.

1A: Puff ____ (snake) (ADDER) - C+.
Favorite: 32A: She raised Cain (EVE) - Simple, but amusing
Least: hmmm... maybe ORD (20A: California's old Fort ____). It's just a little esoteric for a Monday. On the other hand, I think I may have played disc golf at that old Fort, so maybe I shouldn't give it such a hard time. :)

Oh well, me and my AMIE are on vacation this week, but as usual for us, we've got an agenda, and if I'm going to be one who ADHERES to his HONEYDO list, I should probably shut the ol' laptop and AMBLE over to the toolbox. I enjoyed this puzzle. Fun theme, with no need for a revealer. Good start to the week.

- Horace

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017, Alan Arbesfeld


The jokey theme answers today made me smile, but not laugh out loud, if you know what I mean. My favorite was the last one - OHTOBEINENGLAND (117A: Midwest state secedes and will join the United Kingdom?), and my least favorite was "50A: Whistler from two Eastern states?" (MAANDPAKETTLE). It just doesn't make any sense.

I've always liked the term BEELINE (122A: Direct route), but I have never heard TOPHOLE (52D: First-rate, in British slang). And speaking of compound or multiple-part answers, I found TDBANK (53A: Financial institution whose parent company is Canadian) tricky and boring, but AAMEETING (42D: Part of a recovery effort) tricky and satisfying. See also: 65D: Getting help getting clean (INREHAB).

1A: Tennis world since 1968 (OPENERA) - C. If you've been doing the NYTX for a while, or if you care about professional tennis, you were probably able to drop this in. If not, it might have been tricky.
Favorite: SPARE (40A: Fifth wheel). Tricky! Also, Take stock? (POACH) was quite good, too.
Least: LOAMY (85D: Like some fertile soil). Is there fertile soil that isn't called "loam?"

Overall, I enjoyed this one. It seemed like there were a lot of those "multi-part" answers that I was discussing before - PASTLIVES, INADAY, IMBROKE (24D: "You'll have to pay for me"), MADESENSE, CALLSIN, ONSTAGE, POSEDAS, ISHALL, ILIED, and OTRAVEZ, for example. The cluing was good, and there wasn't too much glue. I actually smiled as I dropped in ETUI. It's sort of like an inside joke for regular solvers. "Hey, here's this old chestnut..." and then later we got EEL too. When you're actually enjoying those kinds of answers, you know EVERYTHINGSOK.

Hope this puzzle found you in a similar state of mind. :)

- Horace

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017, Robyn Weintraub

0:10:47 (F.W.O.E.)

Ms. Weintraub and I were on the same wavelength today. Perhaps, like me, she spent the idle hours of her youth in arcades, hoping to populate the HIGHSCORES (B+) with her initials. And possibly she exclaimed YIPPEE (20A: "I won!") when she did.

This flew right along. Kind of a SNAP, really, for a Saturday. My one mistake came, amusingly, on the time-honored answer OREO. The novel clue "It's 29% cream" fooled me into thinking of butter-like products, and I put in OlEO, even though that makes no sense. The Down clue "One getting bald over time" is really good for TIRE, and once I went back over the puzzle, I quickly corrected it from "tile," but it was too late, I had already registered the FWOE.

I enjoyed the ten-stacks, and the four long downs were all strong. ITFIGURES (32D: "Why am I not surprised!") and SWEETSPOT (12D: Perfect place) were great, but PAWPRINTS (11D: Dog-walking trail), believe it or not, was my favorite.

There was very little that got my dander up today. Even RECD (26D: Office stamp abbr.) didn't bother me. I guess the only complaint I have is that it was over too quickly.

- Horace

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday, September 22, 2017, David Steinberg


When I read "1A: Welcoming words" I dropped in "please do come in," and for "15A: 'You're misquoting me,'" I tried "I did not say that." Then I immediately went to the Downs, and realized "1D: Home of many Physics Nobelists, for short" should probably be MIT, so 1A came out. SARDINE (8D: Fish typically preserved in oil) quickly followed, ruining 15A, and for a while after that it did not look good for ol' Horace. But slowly, things came back into focus.

1A: Welcoming words (MICASAESSUCASA) - A. Pretty nice. I was going to ding it for being foreign, but it's Friday, so all's fair.
Favorite: MACE (Old ball and chain?) - Even with the question mark, it took me a while, and I laughed when I finally got it.
Least: ARC (Part of a cardoid figure) - I was not familiar with these, and when I looked them up, they were all blobs. And sure, an arc is a part of a circle, but that's weak.

Lots of nice words again today - ATELIER (14D: Workshop), CHEEK (27A: Impudence) (This was a front-runner for "favorite"), ESCAPADE (28A: Wild adventure), and my favorite dessert - TAPIOCA. Mmm.... TAPIOCA....

I liked the fun words, and I like much of the cluing. ROMPS felt a tiny bit off for "Humiliating defeats" (I would have preferred "ROutS"), but I can accept it. On the other hand, "Nice thanks" for MERCI had me fooled for a good long time. Strong 14-stacks, and good content without too much filler. Very nice Friday, Mr. Steinberg.

- Horace

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017, Matt Ginsberg


Man, I loved this one. What a great start to the Turn.

The UEY idea isn't exactly new, I don't think, but it's done very well here, and I especially like the double-UEY in the center. STRIK/ESABA/LANCE (**Doesn't go to either extreme) is really nice. Just typing that in, I noticed that the clue is given two asterisks, but I didn't notice that during the solve, which I am happy about, as it would have spoiled the surprise.

Dad would be proud - I filled this one in without crosses!

Also, the five theme answers are symmetrical, and the revealer is tucked away in the second-to-last Down answer, which gave me lots of time to wonder what the heck was going on before it was finally "explained." I had entered TWOTIM for "1A: *Adlai Stevenson as a presidential candidate, e.g." and I knew something was up, but I didn't stop to figure it out. I will say, though, that the revealer was really just that today, as it instantly cleared things up for me, and allowed me to fill in SALAR/YCAPS, which I had wanted immediately, but could not figure out how to enter.

In addition to the fun theme, I really enjoyed the cluing today. Take, for example, the excellent 7D: Stand (COPSE), 13D: Beat (WEARY), 39A: Tomorrow's jr. (SOPH) (the P here was my last square), 49A: Boxer's concern, maybe (FLEAS), and 43A: George I or V? (SOFTG). Gaaahhh! (with a hard G) They got me again!

For all this goodness, we have to tolerate a couple Italian plurals (BASSI and TEMPI), a few GOBS of crosswordese (IDEO, EEGS, ENIAC, etc.), and a little weirdness with GIVEEAR and AFLOWER, but I can easily overlook that stuff today.

And then we come to the elephant in the puzzle - VEEPSTAKES. Wikipedia claims that this term has been seen in print as far back as 1952, but I had never heard it until today. Kind of a funny word, actually, and I'm glad to have learned it.

I'll say again that I really enjoyed this one. It's just the kind of puzzle that makes doing crossword puzzles worthwhile.

- Horace

p.s. I can't help wondering how Mr. Ginsberg's crossword puzzle-solving computer program did on this one, and whether or not he has been creating lots of trick puzzles like this one in an effort to improve the program.

p.p.s. Dr. Fill couldn't solve it, and yes, Mr. Ginsberg did use it to test the programming. Also, he submitted "Parisian woman?" as a clue for HELEN, which I think is brilliant, but which was ultimately changed to something much easier.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017, Hal Moore


I don't know about you, but I don't particularly like it when an explanatory note appears with a crossword. Today's reads: "When finished, this crossword grid will have 25 things that complete a set, in the order indicated by the clues." First of all, "25 things?" I guess by "things" they mean "pairs of letters that are adjacent both in the alphabet and in the answers with bracketed numbers" and by "a set" they mean "all the letters of the alphabet repeated twice, in order, except for A, P, T, and Z." Did I miss any?

So it's a stunt puzzle. Sometimes those are good, and other times, they are somewhat interesting but filled with strained or tired fill. See: ENOL (27D: Hydroxyl group compound [14]), AFARAFORE, KMS (41A: Eur. distance measures), CAVA (9A: Vena ____ (major vessel)), and SSRS (60D: They became independent in 1991: Abbr.). Fun stuff.

There were bright spots, though. POPQUIZ (50A: Classroom surprise [15][16]) was fun, and BMWXSERIES (62A: Line of upscale German autors [23]) was unexpected. CONDEMN (9D: Mark for demolition [13]) and SINEW (54A: Muscular strength) are good words, and who can argue with CLAM chowder? As long as it's not Manhattan-style. :)

But overall, the TIAS, BCE, BRAE, and LOMB type stuff left me DOUR. I don't want to give it a total NOGO, but let's just say it wasn't my favorite.

1A: Wall Street index, for short (SANDP) - C-.
Favorite: RADIUS (40D: Wheel spoke, essentially).
Least: ALFA (2D: Letter before bravo) - Where's the "var." tag?


- Horace

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2107, Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel


SILENTPARTNER is the theme today. Hmmm... It took me a minute or two to understand what that meant, but then I saw that two identical silent letters are found in each theme answer. Kind of cool, really. In the first, CAMPAIGNSIGNS, the silent G is paired with, and lengthens, a vowel (or vowel cluster) both times. Or does it? It lengthens the I, but AI would be the same with or without it, right? Because "pain" is the same as "paign," but "sin" is different from "sign." ... Anyway, in the second, GENGHISKHAN, it hardens the G and ... does what to the K? Who knows? That one is obviously a direct borrowing from another language, and so does not require any explanation in English.

Turns out, silent letters would require me to do a little research if I wanted to provide a full explanation here. Let's just say that I liked the idea, once I understood it, and we'll move right along to the fill, which, sadly, I liked less.


1A: Tacks on (ADDS) - D.
Favorite: SOANDSO (46D: Scoundrel) - I was not expecting this.
Least: maybe HOS (30D: Sounds from the Jolly Green Giant), although there were plenty to choose from.

Interesting, but slightly off-putting entries today included DOGMEAT (3D: Serving in Asia that's taboo in the West) and HAGGIS (9D: Sheep dish popular in Scotland), and perhaps those choices are what brought on the idea for STARVES (48D: Doesn't eat for a long while). ELANDS, EDS, PSA, SOP, FROS, MAA, WIPING and SKEE all seemed a bit blah, and even the longer stuff like DRLAURA and ASHTREE wasn't terribly exciting.

I don't know, I guess I was kind of underwhelmed by the whole thing. Sometimes you'll have that.

- Horace

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017, Tom McCoy


The theme today features colorful expressions using body parts. YELLOWBELLIED (56A: Deplorably cowardly) is my favorite, but I just used WHITEKNUCKLED (20A: Visibly tense), or some variant of it, yesterday when describing the car salesman in the back seat during our test drive. Heh.

1A: The Times or Daily News, e.g. (PAPER) - C+
Favorite: EUROPA (25A: Figure in Greek myth after whom a continent is named) - It seems obvious, but I'm not sure I ever fully realized that before.
Least: 11D

There's plenty of bonus fill today, with AMALGAM (45D: Blend), HOGTIE (50A: Truss up), POISE (26D: Graceful bearing), GNASHPELTED, TESTY, and LLAMA. Good old Ogden Nash. :)

Maybe I'm old-school, but I always think of "If, then" statements, not "If, ELSE." Was that just BASIC programming? Also, the clue for SOCKET (9D: Holder of an eye or a light bulb) is gross.

A fine Monday.

- Horace

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017, Mark Maclachlan


A fun little loop-the-loop theme today, where the letters in the grayed out squares (in the online solving version, anyway - I'm not sure what it looked like on paper) are treated like little loops in a Hot Wheels track. I got the trick on the weakest one, in my opinion, BEV[ERAGER]OOM (25A: Beer parlor), and then went back immediately to fill in LOBST[ERTHER]MIDOR (23A: Fancy French shellfish dish). That one's fine, but "beverage room?" Yeah, that's what we like to call that place we go for drinks. "Hey, let's meet after work in the beverage room. It'll be loads of fun!"

The other theme answers were all pretty good. SPOIL[ERALER]T (91A: Reason to stop reading) might have been my favorite, but CONC[ERTSER]IES was on point because last night Frannie and I saw the first in a five opera series about Joan of Arc. This was Tchaikovsky's "Maid of Orleans," and - spoiler alert - it was fantastic! Also - second spoiler alert - it doesn't end well for ol' Joanie.

It might have been slightly nicer if the loops had extended some 21-letter answers into the grid, but one can't have everything, can one.

1A: Naval engagements (SEAWARS). - D.
Favorite: BRACE (51D: Pair) - Love me some old-fashioned language.
Least:HEME (18D: Pigment in red blood cells) - Even though it was totally guessable, I don't like this one.

So it was an ok theme, but there wasn't a whole lot else that was super interesting. I liked the two "It's got you covered" clues (ATTIRE, SHELTER), and a few of the question-mark clues were fun. Then there was stuff like OOM, UTE, ETH, STER, SIE, ESA, and the like. Let's say it was fine.

- Horace

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Saturday, September 16, 2017, Natan Last, The J.A.S.A. Crossword Class, and Finn Vigeland


How funny is it that I posted a photo of SIDCAESAR (14D: 1950s TV personality who appeared in "Grease") in Grease just two days ago, and today he's in the puzzle with that clue! Quelle coincidence!

I liked pretty much all the nine- and ten-letter answers today. EASYSTREET (17A: Low-stress address?), GOINPEACE (13D: Gentle farewell), and CASTPARTY (31D: Celebration after a run) are probably my favorites. I also thought PANICBAR (23D: Door part often fitted with an alarm) and RHEOSTAT (21D: Current regulator) were both strong. MEEMAW (9D: Grandmother, in dialect), however, I did not like. Which dialect is that again? I've never heard it.

More strong stuff - WALLOW (27A: Roll around), THROB (42A: Beat), LAYLOW (4D: Hunkered down) (tricky tense!), and SLOTH (24D: Poor work habit). And how did these youngsters slip HOOHAS (35A: Flaps) past Mr. Shortz?!

1A: Plucky words? (SHELOVESME) - A. Think daisies.
Favorite: 30D: Request for an island getaway? (SOS) - That's a lovely clue.
Least: STARCH (39A: Pressing need) - It's cute, but you don't actually need it to press anything. Believe me. I do a lot of ironing!

Even after the "Does sumthing wrong" clue from a few days ago, it still took me ages to figure out 53D: Kind of place for the summer? (ONES). Sheesh! And how 'bout that misdirection on 59D: Cry at a Real Madrid game (GOL). I dropped in "ole" so fast!...

Lots to like in here and not much glue (sure, ERTES was plural, but it got a decent clue). I went through it pretty fast, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.

- Horace

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday, September 15, 2017, Damon Gulczynski


I liked this one, but it kind of flew by for a Friday.

1A: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame designer (IMPEI) - B.
Favorite: SHH (11A: Sound from a silencer) - I think this was the biggest surprise for me.
Least: NUS (43D: Some college Greeks)

I first tried IMpaYING for IMBUYING (1D: "It's on me") and HALFCookED and HALFCockED for HALFCRAZED (29D: Nutso), but those were righted pretty quickly. Oh, and I typed Scale for "66A: Celsius, for one," but as soon as I remembered that it was Friday, and quickly changed it to SWEDE. Much better.

I enjoyed the two "spoken" answers: IKNOWRIGHT (27A: "Seriously!") and GRACIOUSME (47A: "Well, I declare!"), and the PTBARNUM quote (3D: Who said "Without promotion, something terrible happens ... nothing!") was interesting, if slightly off-putting. I'm just so done with promotion and the never-ENDING EARNING and BUYING of ALLNEW junk...

Sorry. I was HALFCRAZED there for a moment. Sometimes I just feel so IMMERSED in consumerism.

CLEF (9D: Pitch setter) was fun, and I did not know that Parker POSEY was the "so-called "Queen of the Indies," but I should have. She's great.

So I'll end this like I started it - I liked this one, I just thought it was maybe a little light for a Friday. Here's hoping we get a nice heavy one tomorrow!

- Horace

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017, John Guzzetta

0:15:15 (FWOE)

Wow. It wasn't until I started writing this review that I finally understood today's theme. The word DIASTEMA (52A: Formal term for the gap suggested by ...), is defined in my Webster's as "a natural space in the body; specif., the gap between two teeth, esp. of the upper jaw." And if you look at the theme material, you find that the word "tooth" is broken across the gap in each answer. So... huh. It's a gap-toothed puzzle.

Maybe our resident MD, Colum, is aware of this term, but I was not, and I'm betting that the vast majority of NYTX solvers are not either. I could be wrong, of course. It's a common occurrence. But I would be more surprised than usual if it were true again here.

So yeah, it's nice to learn a new word, and the theme answers are all ok. DOUNTO OTHERS is probably the most normal. TOOT HISOWNHORN is a bit awkward, and SPREADTOO THIN is fine, but not great.

The fill, however, I enjoyed. 2D: Something to tie up (LOOSEEND) is an interesting one, because it looks odd in the grid, and - it's an anagram of "loosened." It makes me think that constructors probably like to use words that can be anagrammed, because it allows a little flexibility in the construction. Of course, I've not yet constructed anything, so I don't know for sure, but that's what I think. Also, I ended up really chuckling about MISADDS (7D: Does sumthing wrong?). I know - it really ought to be "Does sum thing wrong," sort of, but who cares, really? It's just a puzzle clue, and you can figure out what they mean.

And speaking of figuring things out, I looked up NESSUS (44D: Centaur who was killed by Hercules), and - spoiler alert! - it turns out that he was both killed by, and killed, in a way, Hercules. His blood was poison!

I liked the clue for REVEILLE (38D: Rising notes?), but what's up with "Quintet instrument" for VIOLIN? What about quartet, or octet, or orchestra? Strange.

1A: Interjection derived from the Latin for "weary" (ALAS) - B+ for the clue.
Favorite: 22A: Exhibits (MANIFESTS) - I just like the word. Although "What comes before a clue? (GET) (as in, "Get a clue!") was also good.
Least: INTROS (31A: They're often made at icebreakers) - Ick.

My error came at NFC and CACHE because I hastily put in NFl and never went back. Tant pis.

I liked this one, but mostly thanks to the fill rather than the theme.

- Horace

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017, Daniel Mauer


I thought that French major was going to finally pay off today when I dropped in LEPETITDEJEUNER (17A: *Breakfast, in Burgundy) without a second thought, but then when I came to EINEKLEINE NACHTMUSIK (Mozart composition), I briefly panicked because I first defaulted to the Dutch spelling of music (muziek), which did not fit! And then the Spanish in the middle was where I ended up, because although I - and everyone else in the country - has heard "La Bamba" countless times, I never distinctly heard UNAPOCADEGRACIA in the lyrics, so I needed a little bit of grace to finally get the answers to 30D: Good-news-to-bad-news transition (BUT) and 39D: Listen here! (EAR), both of which were amusing in the end.

1A: Hairdressers' challenges (MOPS) - B. Good clue, unusual term.
Favorite: IAMSODEAD (32D: "OMG, my parents are gonna ground me forever!") - LOL
Least: I guess RIAA (68A: Org. certifying albums as gold or platinum), because it's an obscure abbreviation, but honestly, it's not all that bad.

I really liked this puzzle. I'm a big fan of languages, and in addition to the theme answers, we have ECLAT (8A: Brilliance), CRU (9D: French vineyard), BRIO (30A: Vivacity), OLES (34A: Corrida cheers) (ok, this plural of tired crosswordese probably should have been my least favorite), DES, OPEL, and the names ARP, MEHTA, and KANT.

Other highlights for me include SHIRK (55D: Avoid, as work), ELM (22A: One throwing shade?), III (38D: XXX divided by X) (there have been a string of good clues for III lately, in my opinion), and SHOAL (60A: Boating hazard). 

Hey, this puzzle is one place where GLUE is not glue... and is EENIE a duplication with EINE?

Thumbs up!

- Horace

p.s. And hey, it's a debut! Congratulations, Mr. Mauer!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017, Bruce Haight


For the past couple years, Frannie and I have had the pleasure of talking with Mr. Haight at the ACPT. He is a nice guy, and a funny guy. He's also a constructor who likes to play with the crossword form and push at its boundaries. The first time I met him, I confessed that I was a crossword blogger, and we discussed one of his "stunt puzzles" in which two large I-shaped groups of black squares were used as a letter in all answers that touched them. Later that night, I went back and re-read my review of that puzzle, and found that I had nearly SAVAGED it. Unfortunately, he read it too, and the next day when we met again, I felt like a heel. It's funny, because looking back on that puzzle now, I think the concept is kind of cool. Oh well... sorry, Bruce.

Anywho, that's all water under the bridge. Today, Mr. Haight takes one of crosswordom's controversial topics, Roman numerals, and turns it into a strength, using it in an interesting and amusing way. CISTERNS becomes "101 rear ends?," AND LIFELINES becomes "51 cats?" I love the idea!

In addition to the fun theme, we get four chunky corners, and some decent seven-letter fill in the downs. I particularly enjoyed PRSTUNT (3D: Cheap way to get media attention) (and interesting, coming so close after last weekend's "prnightmare"), PRIVYTO (41D: In on), and, believe it or not, LEADORE (45D: Galena or cerussite). What can I say, I'm a sucker for geology.

We also get some "glue," as Jeff Chen politely puts it. ESPIED (22A: Spotted) always feels a bit forced, and then there's ATTA, ETTE, DOO, UTAHN (is this real?), and OMRI (14A: Father of Ahab in the Bible) (really!? I don't think I've ever heard that before). And isn't it odd that SLIM (44A: Like a long shot's chances) gets almost the exact same clue that it had on Sunday. Weird.

1A: "____ Don't Lie" (2006 Shakira hit)" (HIPS) - B. I don't know the song, but from the title, I kind of wish I did. Maybe I'll download it.
Favorite: DUELS (25D: Pacers' engagements?) - Hah!
Least: ITD (64A: "____ be my pleasure") - Obvious glue.

Overall, I enjoyed this. The theme was clever, and sometimes that's all it takes. :)

- Horace

Monday, September 11, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017, Erik Agard and Paolo Pasco


Today we have four place names that contain two instances of "la," or, four examples of LALA LAND. It's a cute, simple, Monday theme, and one of my brothers is living on the MALAYPENINSULA these days, so it was fun to see that in the puzzle.

1A: Pitchfork-shaped letter (PSI) - B+. Nice clue for this one. I tried "wye" here first. Is that how one spells the second-to-last letter in our alphabet?
Favorite: 15A: Animal whose name is a synonym of "parrot" (APE). Heh.
Least: AFROED (17D: Sporting a natural) - Has this ever been said? "Oh yes, he's the afroed gentleman..."

Not much stellar material, but very little that's terrible, and we've got plenty that's pretty good, to wit: POMADE (14A: Hairstyling substance) (Makes me think of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"), FLUKE (50A: Happy accident), FERAL (50D: Wild), and IGLOO (3D: Ice pad?) were all interesting. I could do without OOPSIE (5D: Mistake, cutely), and it was a little too bad that PERFECTGPA wasn't something theme-related, but overall, I enjoyed it.

Horizontal symmetry, theme answers running in both directions, which I tend to like, plus, an interesting theme and a fun revealer, all add up to a fun Monday.

- Horace

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017, Brendan Emmett Quigley


It took me quite a while to figure out the theme today, and when I did, it allowed me to find my error, which was at SHARKSIPHONSOUP (3D: Order to a pool hustler to suck up some broth?). I had entered "sharp" for the "pool hustler" part, thinking, I guess, of the term "card sharp," and SpYTEL didn't mean any more or less to me than SKYTEL does. It was only when I realized that it was the "sigh" sound that mattered (the "matters" in the title seems a bit off, or else the "plural" "size" does...) that I saw they were going for "shark's fin soup." I don't pronounce "siphon" with a "fin" sound at the end, so that, too, seemed a bit off. 

So that made me a little cranky. The other themers were better: STATICCYCLING (Spin class activity?) (static cling), and SAIGONFISHING (Rod-and-reel event in old Vietnam?) (Gone Fishing) were fine, and I enjoyed the old-timeyness of DRAWSSINAI (Makes a quick map of an Egyptian peninsula) (why quick?) (draws nigh). But overall, the answers before the "sigh" is taken away are just a bit too nonsensical for my tastes. Sigh.

1A: "Watch yourself out there" (BESAFE) - C
Favorite: 21D: "Down goes Frazier!" sportscaster (COSELL). I'm guessing ET59 will need most of the crosses for this one. :)
Least: IDYLIST (33D: Pastoral poet) - Come on.

That middle area near IDYLIST had a bunch of less-than-ideal answers. ICEDIN, AAR, YLEM, LALAS, ONENO, HEP, and UNCASE. One of those would be fine, but all of them is too many.

I enjoyed WENTPRO (67A: Left college athletics, maybe), and I'm happy to now know that  LADOGA is "83A: Europe's largest lake." I hope I remember that. 92A: Action at a bris (SNIP) was slightly amusing, but also a bit much. 

Overall, I didn't love it, which is surprising, because I usually enjoy Mr. Quigley's puzzles. Plus, he's a hometown hero here in the Cambridge area. If you're reading this, I look forward to your next one!

- Horace

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Saturday, September 9, 2017, John Guzzetta and Michael Hawkins


I very much enjoyed this puzzle. The eleven-letter answers are all quite strong. ADEALSADEAL (13D: "We agreed to it, so you'd better deliver") looks particularly odd to me all bunched up like that, and I love the entire SE stack. PRNIGHTMARE (64A: Big headache for a company rep) and SPIDEYSENSE (66A: Intuition about something soon to happen) are both terrific.

In addition to the long stuff, there are quality entries like TROTH (33A: Loyalty, old-style), STRAFE (6D: Fire on from above), TINEAR (20A: Difficulty picking up subtleties), NODICE (28A: "Ain't gonna happen!"), CIRCA (55A: Date preceder), and EGOTRIP (40D: A star might go on one). I enjoyed CHERE (29D: Start of a billet-doux), and the clue for TRIBE (26D: Crow, for one). And I don't know why, but the two Cs in FLACCID (42D: Like a wet noodle) surprised me. It looks like it should be pronounced with a hard C sound, but I've always said it as though it were spelled "flassid." Is that what you've done? The Google and my dictionary tell me it should be more like "flaksid," but Classical Latin (Ecclesiastical Latinists, feel free to chime in) would have it as "flakid," I'm pretty sure. Either way, it's a fun word to have in the grid, and it's a fun pairing with 17A.

1A: Like night and day (WORLDSAPART) - A. It's not funny, but it's quite good.
Favorite: NASA (49A: Team in Houston) - I was fooled for so long!
Least: MENSAN (47A: Person with a mental bloc?) - There's so much to dislike about MENSA, do we need to make it even more unpleasant with the adjectivization?

There were a few minor bits of glue, and I think of 7D: "The Governator" as "Ahnold" rather than ARNIE, but overall, I loved it.

- Horace

Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday, September 8, 2017, Sam Trabucco


A fun, challenging Friday puzzle today. I very much enjoyed many of the answers, starting with my favorite - YOUREAJERK (28D: Intemperate put-down). I laughed out loud at that one. It's neighbor, BAZOOKAJOE (29D: Comics character seen on gum wrappers) didn't fool me for a second, but STARCRAFT (5D: Hit sci-fi video game set around the 26th century), on the other hand, was something I had never heard of. I had mineCRAFT in there for a while, but eventually the crosses worked themselves out.
On the other side, SITATHOME (34D: Not go out) and AREWECLEAR (12D: "Capisce?") were good. MIKEPIAZZA (11D: Catcher who won a record 10 consecutive Silver Slugger Awards) is one of those answers that reminds me that this is a New York puzzle.

It was funny (ish) to see "D'oh!" used as a clue, after my difficulties with that word on Monday. Today it led to IMAMORON, which also got quite a chuckle.

CYBERCAFES (27A: Places to get wired, in two senses of the word), UNTAPED (25A: Live, in a way), and BASESALARY (43A: Amount before bonuses) were, in order STALE, forced, and boring. But BUZZFEEDQUIZZES seems adequately timely. Those are still a thing, aren't they?

1A: Place to order sardinas and sangria (TAPASBAR) - B. Good Friday clue.
Least: NOA (32A: "____ thousand times ..."

I enjoyed this one, how about you?

- Horace

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017, Alex Eaton-Salners


Instead of a trick puzzle, this Thursday we get a gimmick puzzle. All the Across answers are in alphabetical order. I sure hope this is difficult to do, because toward the end we are treated to some things not usually seen in a grid. Well, actually, as I look around, I find unusual entries all over the place, but that ROWR (56D: "Hey there, tiger!") really stands out, doesn't it? Truly, though, I actually enjoyed that one. It's so daring! OVATE (50D: Almost circular), IFI, MEDO, ROLEO, VSO, TIEA, and HEE are less appealing. None terrible, but together they seem a bit much.

I guess I'd like it better if every letter of the alphabet were used to start a word, but then I suppose that list of unappealing words would be much longer. Still, it's an interesting thing for Mr. Eaton-Salners to have done. And it makes me wonder - you know how sometimes we count the squares taken up by theme material? Is it all theme material today? Heh.

What more is there to say?

1A: One who settles argument (ARBITER) - B.
Favorite: EVILDOER (6D: "Nothing is easier than to denounce the ____; nothing is more difficult than to understand him": Dostoyevsky). Just last night I read the "allegory of the cave" from Plato's Republic, and this quote meshes beautifully with the idea that the best people in a society must take it upon themselves to go among the worst and try to help them. It also makes me think of the Tao Te Ching, which includes a line that asks something like "What is a good man, but a bad man's teacher, what is a bad man, but a good man's project?" Is that what we crossword puzzle bloggers are trying to do? To help constructors improve their products? Or are we just here to poke holes in their hard work? The same could be asked of Socrates, I suppose, who poked holes in the self-claimed wisdom of others, while crowds looked on and jeered. ...

Can you tell that I just started a Philosophy class?

Least: ABLUSH (8D: Visibly embarrassed). I am ABLUSH to admit that I put this in with no crosses, which I can only credit to my having done so many crossword puzzles.

OK, that's probably enough from me for today. Thanks for reading!

- Horace

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wednesday, September 6, 2017, Daniel Raymon


Today it's everyone's favorite - punny wordplay! A mundane truck becomes a FJORDEXPLORER (20A: One traveling around Scandinavia?), and simple hors d'oeuvres become a FINGERFEUD (40A: Argument that involves pointing?). The backformation of the "Soldiers in line formation?" (MILITARYQUEUE) took me a long time, because I didn't see that each transformation occurs by the addition of a "yew" sound. Ford to Fjord, Booty to Beauty, Food to Feud, and finally, Coup to Queue. Maybe it was the additional letter change that threw me. Whatever it was, I chuckled at the theme, and that's always a good thing.

Some nice bonus material in the downs: POLEMIC (10D: Controversial argument) is unusual, LIONTAMERS (29D: Dangerous circus jobs) is fun, despite the plural, MACUSER (42D: Apple consumer) has defined me for decades, and the full (ish) IMPEI (5D: Noted architect who turned 100 in 2017) was interesting. I had no idea he was that old!

1A: Female singer with a hit album in every decade since the 1960s (CHER) - B. Does that include the current decade?
Favorite: EDIT (17A: Pare a phrase?) Excellent clue for this old workhorse.
Least: PAUL (10A: House speaker Ryan). I should probably have chosen URB, but I can't resist being unnecessarily political.

Boy I really tried to make "alpe" work for 42A: France's Pic de Rochebrune, e.g. (MONT).

It took me a long time to figure out the middle, because I just could not remember that character's name! So for the fun theme and the good Wednesday challenge, I give it a thumbs up.

- Horace

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tuesday, September 5,2017, Jeff Chen and Michelle Kenney


A Broadway theme today, with circled letters in four answers spelling out the shows Hair, Grease, Cats, and Wicked. The answers holding those shows are hit or miss. I enjoyed GREEKVASE (27A: Piece of pottery featuring Achilles, say), and the clue for CAMOPANTS (50A: Military bottoms, informally) made me chuckle, but HAWAIIANAIR and WISECRACKED were less good.

The fill had the usual highlights and lowlights. SCHISM (1D: Serious rift) and ARABLE (2D: Supportive of cultivation) up in the beginning quadrant got things off to a good start. Further on, STAMINA (40D: Staying power), STREWN (31D: Scattered), and AMIDST (53A: In the thick of) are all nice. I didn't really like the clue for AMPM (10A: Clock setting for an alarm). Why is it just for an alarm? The clock also needs to be set correctly for the alarm to work.

A lot of colloquial answers were included today, with varying effect: DIDASET (weak), IADMITIT (fine), BETHATWAY (better), OHWAIT (meh), ISWEAR (ok), ENDSIT (fine), ITRY (fine), and my favorite - GODNO (26D: Emphatic rejection). I also liked the "informal" DARNEDEST. Heh.

Two clues I liked: 31A: They're heard but not seen (SOUNDS) and 60D: Nickname formed by three consecutive letters of the alphabet (STU).

1A: What some castles are made of (SAND) - B-. Again, for the clue.
Favorite: GODNO
Least: MESSED (13D: Fooled (around)). No.

Lastly, GINKGO was tricky, because I often see it spelled "gingko." But the crosses today were all fair.

- Horace

Monday, September 4, 2017

Monday, September 4, 2017, Tracy Gray


OK, here's what I don't like about this puzzle: ARGUS. Why? Because I put in ARGoS, knowing it was right for "12D: Mythical 100-eyed giant," and then when I got to "22A: Word accompanying a head slap," (DUH) I filled in DoH and smiled. Then, when I finished filling in the grid, I learned that I had an error, which I thought must have been a typo, since nothing was particularly difficult, but I looked and looked, and after spending more time looking for an error than I had spent filling in all the clues, I went to xwordinfo to see Jeff Chen's completed grid, which is when I saw the U. Sure, DUH, also works for 22A, and ARGUS is an alternate Americanization of Αργος, but I argue that the O also works.

OK, rant over. It's Labor Day, and the grid is reminding us of that by offering up BBQ fare - wings, dogs, brats, and sliders. I don't eat any of these things, but I appreciate the effort. All the "container phrases" are acceptable. I like the top two better than the bottom two, but I think they're all fair.

1A: "Goldilocks" bear with the hardest bed (PAPA) - B-. Good effort on the clue.
Favorite: GIN (47A: Rickey or gimlet ingredient). Mmm... GIN. Soon it will be brown liquid weather again, so enjoy it while you can!
Least: TSLOT (68A: Letter-shaped track in metalworking). Gaaah.

Not much more to say about this one. Onward!

- Horace

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sunday, September 3, 2017, Andrew Zhou


The ANIMALMAGNETISM today is the butting together of two animals within larger names or phrases. Finding "lamb" beside "ass" in GOODWILLAMBASSADORS (*Celebrities working for the U.N., perhaps) is probably the best one, but I also like the simple elegance of "elk" and "ant" in IMMANUELKANT (*Philosopher who wrote "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made"). And what a quote! My least favorite, possibly because it took me so dang long to figure out, was BOARDINGOFFICER (*Law enforcer with the Coast Guard), even though it does contain two of the more interesting animals.

My favorite clue/answer today was 14A: Happy event after a split? (SPARE). My mind immediately went somewhere else, but there weren't enough squares for that... and the question mark didn't really bother me on this one. It was still plenty tricky. And you know what? I was just about to say that my least favorite was 67D: Heat center of old? (ONEAL), because I didn't understand it, but now I see the beautifully hidden capital, and I realize that it's that old crossword favorite, Shaquille O'Neal. Nice one, Mr. Zhou.

So I guess now I have to pick another least favorite. It's almost too easy to pick a three-letter one, like ILO, NTH, UMSDCI, or the over-worked ARA constellation. And I didn't particularly enjoy EGOT, or BLIP (Dot on a screen), but I'm going to pick on ULTRACOOL (19A: Really happening) because of its clue. Who, in the past forty years, has ever referred to something ULTRACOOL as "really happening?" No one, that's who.

And while I'm INAPET, I'll complain a bit about OWNIT (61D: Take responsibility for something) and say that I think the clue more accurately calls for "own up." I think of OWNIT as meaning "take pride in it." And why is "in part" needed in the clue for WEED (Wacky tobacky, in part)? Are they thinking of "the evil weed," or something like that? Pot is weed. End of story. And furthermore, come on, "wacky tobacky?"

1A: Mayhem (DISORDER). B. It's fine.

The theme is somewhat interesting, and this was more challenging for me than Sundays usually are, so that's good. There were, however, some things I didn't love about it. And I don't particularly like having to enter SNOTNOSED in a puzzle.

- Horace

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Saturday, September 2, 2017, Erik Agard


Thursday it was "box seats," yesterday it was "opera boxes," and today we are led to the LOGESEAT (15D: Superior stadium spot) for the SANANTONIO Stars (WNBA) game.

A solid end to The Turn (what we at this blog call the Thursday, Friday, Saturday puzzle block). There are obvious bits of glue - SOTU (President's annual delivery to Cong.), RESAT, and SDSU (Calif. school near the Mexican border) and a few others - but not too much.

The longer stuff was not always terribly exciting. I enjoyed filling in GREENHOUSEGASES (They leave carbon footprints), but I did so off the G of RPG, which is bittersweet on a Saturday. You love getting a long answer like that, but you also wish you had had to work a little more for it. Likewise, SOUTHSUDANESE (Neighbor of an Ethiopian) took only a few crosses, and once it is in, it's just in. Do you know what I mean?

Better, in my opinion, were fun words like IRIDESCE (Sparkle) ("Sparkles," btw, is one of Frannie's nicknames), ORDAIN (Decree), SEMINOLE (Creek language) (thank you for not cluing this as a sports team), and the excellent TANGENTIAL (Barely relevant).

I was not aware of the show QUEENSUGAR (Oprah Winfrey Network show about a family farm), and I always bristle a bit when I see THESTONES (Band that really rocks, appropriately?) without the word "Rolling." Have they officially changed their name? I know we've seen this in puzzles before. Grrr. And I was surprised to see SCIROCCO clued as "Volkswagen coupe" without any reference to the past, but I looked it up, and the SCIROCCO is back in production. It's not sold in North America, but I guess that doesn't matter. We sometimes see Skoda, and other foreign brands in puzzles, don't we?

Overall, I think this was, as I said, solid, but not especially memorable.

1A: Movie lot? (CAST) - C-. It was given away by the question mark.
Favorite: TAKE (Stomach).
Least: I guess SOTU. Seems so arbitrary.

- Horace

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017, Patrick Berry


Thanks, Colum, for a fun month of reviews! You went out on a high note, and I start September with a silky-smooth Patrick Berry Friday grid! It doesn't get much better than that.

I started out quickly today with PAXROMANA (13A: Period ushered in by Augustus) - a giveaway for this Latinist. Not being a full classicist hurt me, however, in not knowing "Clytemnestra's half sister" (HELEN) without several crosses. Still, it's interesting to know, and I'll try to remember it. Also interesting to learn about the prior use for METHANOL (1A: What the earliest cars used as antifreeze). I think that probably deserves an A-.

So much good, long material today. SUCCINCTLY (Without wasting a word), SMORGASBORD (Choice meal?) (my favorite today), LAYAWAYPLAN (The seller takes no interest in it) (Ha!), and the fun MONKEYBARS (Another name for a horizontal ladder). Somewhat less scintillating were MARKERPEN (Soft-headed writer?) (trying to be cute, but really, don't most people just say "marker?") and RETOTALED (Verified the count of). But they're not terrible, and look, I haven't even mentioned OBELISK, CASPIANSEA, or CANAPE (Party platter tidbit). Mmmm.... canapés...

For all this loveliness, we are asked to accept TRINI (Certain Caribbean islander, informally) (are we still talking about TRINI Lopez, here?), SHOAT (Little Swine), and CEBU (Pacific Island Magellan visited in 1521). This last one is my least favorite answer today. Sure, it's a little interesting to learn about, but come on... nobody but nobody knows that.

Great start to the month. I'm already looking forward to tomorrow!

- Horace

p.s. Funny that Huygens was just mentioning OPERABOXES in his comment yesterday. I wonder if he dropped that right in today?