Saturday, March 31, 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018, Kevin G. Der


I figured out that there was a trick to this puzzle pretty fast thanks to Horace muttering, "there's something fishy here" shortly after he started, which occurred while I was still doing my Dutch lesson of the day. When I did get started, I dropped in REDANTS with some trepidation. How often have I gotten the 1 across answer on a Saturday puzzle right out of the gate? The answer, as we all know, is that this was the zeroth time. I started to catch on to the back-and-forth nature of the answers in the northeast thanks to REBS, OAT and BAYLEAF. Then when I got to 19A. Most crosstown thoroughfares in Manhattan ... with a hint to this puzzle's theme (ONEWAYSTREETS) it all started to make sense. Even when I knew what was going on, I still got into a couple of jams, particularly in the mid-east. I was convinced that 24U. Slow and stately compositions was diRGeS - with 50% of the letters being correct and it being such a good fit for the clue, I was loath to give up on it. Finally, I decided 46A. Physicist's proposal had to be MODEL, which allowed me to get LARGOS and straighten out that corner.

An additional challenge for me, when solving on the app, is that it wants to put the letters in in normal reading order, which is usually a help, but in this case, it meant I would have had to figure out how to spell everything backwards. My brain does not work GOINGINALLDIRECTIONS, so I had to press the square for each letter to enter it, like an animal.

As much trouble as I had solving it, my mind reels at thought of constructing this beaut. It's stunning. To top it all off, it contains some great clues. IHAVETO list some of my favorites:
43B. Back on the job? (ABET) - so good.
20D. Banks on a runway (TYRA) - this hidden capital had me going for a while.
32U. The "I" of Constantine I (EGO) - tricksy!
36U. Poker giveaway (TELL) - I've always liked that word.
37D. Turkey club? (NATO) - ha!
57D. Rush-rush (GOGO) - How perfect is that clue/answer pair? That's what I call apt. Apt!
61D. Get into (DON) - nice.


Unlike being stuck in TOTALGRIDLOCK in real life, I really have nothing to complain about in this grid.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018, Sam Trabucco


I seem to have been on the same wavelength as Mr. Trabucco today, at least for the most part. I was able to drop many of the longer entries right in, which is lucky for me because the short fill and crosswordese are often what help me break into a Friday or Saturday puzzle.  But, on reviewing this puzzle, I noticed a DENSE underbrush of three-letter fill that I wouldn't know in a million years such as PKS (Tie-breaking shots in soccer: Abbr.), Most-applied-to school in the U.S. [great use of the adjectival hyphen here] (UCLA - who knew?), 55D. Asia's ___ Darya River (AMU - hunh?), 47A. Chicago airport code (ORD - I should know this one, but I don't), and 46A. D.O.J. branch (ATF -  WTF?) :) If I had had to rely on the short answers to break into the grid I would have been doomed. Doomed!

Nice full grid crossing entries WELCOMETOMYLIFE and DONTWAITUPFORME. I also enjoyed PLEASESTOP and FATHEADED.

Other entries of which it could be said IMAFAN:
61A. Plant from another country (ENEMYSPY)
1D. Does some diamond cutting? (MOWS) - another good one for mows!
49D. It may pack a punch (FIST) - Ha!
53D. Thunderous sound (CLAP) - Apt!
54D. Slithery (EELY) - Yay! :)
And how about 33D. Preceder of first (ZEROTH). That's a nice word, although I am having trouble working it into a sentence. I was zeroth in line at the ticket window? I went on my zeroth date with Brad last week? There's a zeroth time for everything!


Very little in the puzzle today UPSETS me. I didn't love ICHECK, which rings a tad self-important to this poker player's jaundiced ear. And MEGADEAL for High-profile merger, e.g. strikes me as a bit ad hoc, but it's really nothing to HARPON.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday, March 29, 2018, Claire Muscat and David Steinberg


Not too tough a nut to crack today - certainly faster than an average Thursday for me. The theme answers are three sets of shaded squares in the grid each containing a nut broken up by one letter of the word NUT (A[N]CORN, ALMO[U]ND, PEC[T]AN). Maybe the unannounced title of the puzzle is "Nut Cracker." All this talk of nuts puts me in mind of a great bit from "Best in Show." Genius.

Today's nutmeats include:
16A. Summer camp craft (CANOE) - nice ambiguity. I was thinking multi-colored-yarn God's Eye, Popsicle(R) stick tissue box holder, or hand-stamped leather wallet, but couldn't make any of them fit. :)
45D. Like good spellers? (WICCAN) - bewitching clue.
43A. Puts blades to blades, say (MOW) - clever.
3D. Suave (URBANE) - both are good words.

And in re: 30A. Powdered ingredient in sweet teas and smoothies (TARO), I think I just heard about this from the commentators of Sunday's ACPT championship. If true, I did learn something at the tournament after all.

My comPLAITS are few:
5A. The answer to this clue is located on one (EDGE) - fine, but not fine.
19A. ADDLE for Scramble - less apt than I like.
26A. ___ place (ONES) - meh


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018, Peter Gordon

17:10, FWOE

I have to tee up this review before it gets any later! Today's theme is more about the clues than the answers: every clue ends with a "t" or TEE, which is revealed at 59D - no mean feat, if you ask me. Each word in the four theme answers also ends with a T (SATBOLTUPRIGHT, for example) and those are the only t's in the grid. It is nice that the fourth and final theme answer, LASTBUTNOTLEAST, was apt. Apt!

My FWOE came at the RBG/BPOE cross, much to Horace's dismay; he's a big RBG fan. I don't know why I didn't think of her. I blame the use of the full Org. with a Grand Esteemed Loyal Knight acronym (BPOE) where I wanted the familiar Elks.

In the fill I enjoyed APOGEE, DOORNAIL, and AGUE. There were also some fun clues:
64A. Fashion magazine that can be read from back to front? (ELLE)
44D. Gets the lead out (ERASES)
52D. Tidal retreat (EBB)

I put forward for your consideration 11D. "The Story of ___" (1975 film by Truffaut) (ADELEH), 21D. "Chacun ___ son goût" (ASON), and 45D . Doors, in Brest (PORTES) as a mini French theme. Moins à mon goût, if I may, there was perhaps also a mini baseball theme, with three answers all grouped up in center field: 23D. Ballplayer Rich who started and ended his 15-year career as a Giant (AURILIA), 25D. Pitcher's asset (ARM), and 28 Retouches after a fly ball is caught (TAGSUP).

ANSARI to say it, but there were a few answers that were not my cup of tee, if you will:
62A. Psychoanalysis appt. (SESS)
4D. Like something that can be closed tight (SEALABLE)
7D. Suffix with president (IAL)

That's all FOLKS.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday, March 27, 2018, Peter Koetters


Capital idea for today's theme! I loved the PR travel slogans clues incorporating the state seats of government. If I had Topeka favorite, it would be the first one, "Explore Alaska! It's MORETHANJUNEAU!" Ha! It works on so many levels. 50A. "I was afraid to ski, but in New Hampshire I CONCORDMYFEARS!" also entertains.

I was Salem right through the puzzle at first. Things got a Little Rock-y for me when I entered Loo for LAV, but I managed to Phoenix that pretty quickly. I also had a Helena time with the first letter of VIJAYSINGH's name - damn sports references! It must be a Boise thing.

Clues and answers I Raleigh liked include:
11A. Fixer at a horse race? (VET)
57A. Belted one out of this world (ORION)
6D. Green party honoree, briefly (STPAT)
1D. Finally hit the books (CRAM)
30D. What drones collect (INTEL)
56D. Baby sitter? (LAP) - Now that's a Honolulu!
63A. And who doesn't like more than one red-jacketed cheese (EDAMS)?


A RIGArous review must mention possible improvements. While nothing was totally a-Bismarck, but there were some answers that certainly won't win any Cheyenne stars: ENTO, AMAJ, HOER, and ALTI. I'm sure if Mr. Koetters had it to D'over, he would make more of a Frankfort in those few areas.

Overall, though, ACES!


Monday, March 26, 2018

Monday, March 26, 2018, Andy Kravis

7:50, FWOE

A nice theme celebrating the English vowel on which (an avowal) I had to throw in the towel. My FWOE came where DAVIDLEAN crossed the Seattle Sounders org. I ran the alphabet and stopped at 'd', which seemed promising, but I should have waited for the L. :) My mistake shows that I learned nothing from my setback on puzzle 4 at the ACPT this weekend. If I had been paying attention to today's theme while solving the puzzle, instead of waiting until now to look at it in order to write the review, I like to think I wouldn't have made the above-mentioned error. But, I'm getting into the bowels before fully addressing the vowels. Today's theme answers form a sort of word ladder that runs from the northwest to the southeast, with each featuring a different vowel sound from A-U in its final word. We have VICTORYLANE, the aforementioned DAVIDLEAN, TOETHEPARTYLINE smack DAB across the middle, MICROLOAN, and CLAIRDELUNE bringing up the rear, if you'll excuse my French.

Overall, a solid OEUVRE, IMHO, with a number of clues and answers that I enjoyed including 21A. Without ice, at the bar (NEAT, which is how I take my drinks and my men), 58D. Droplet of sweat (BEAD), and 1D. Finish a drive? (PAVE). I also liked ELVISHEGGON, and ONRUSH, plus the words "smeltery" and "Ooky" in the clues.

My PETS SPEEDS for today: I was not especially enamored of ADA (Abbr. on toothpaste tubes), CIG (Salem or Marboro, slangily), or, as you might guess, MLS. Horace tells me MLS stands for Major League Soccer, which FORCES me to realize that I have a long way to go before achieving my new ACPT GOAL INRE sports names and related deets. GEES.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018, Finn Vigelund


Hmm... I think it a little cruel, perhaps, to run this puzzle during the A.C.P.T., because, for me anyway, it brought up some P.T.S.D. from Patrick Berry's "Puzzle Five" from a couple years ago. My grid that year made Colum's "devastated ruinscape" look nearly complete in comparison! :) But let's try to put that behind us again, shall we?


Welp, I wrote that before doing the last puzzle of the tournament which was, amusingly, also done by Patrick Berry. But what a great finish it was! Such a fun puzzle! All my PTSD is gone!

Now then, let's talk about Mr. Vigeland's puzzle. The directive to "follow the sun" helps us to navigate the theme answers as they take not one, but two 90-degree turns. Consider 56A: Hollywood labor groups. It looks like the answer will just be "actors," but if we follow the word "sun," and then turn to the East again, we see that the real answer is ACTOR/SUN/IONS. Very nice. And one other answer that turns up instead of down is EPLURIBU/SUN/UM (102A: Only words on the front of the Great Seal of the United States). Kind of fun to have that one and ETAT/SUN/IS (98A: Amérique) nearly side-by-side down there.

Mr. Vigeland has accomplished this feat with quite a bit of FINESSE, in my opinion, with just a little bit of KPMG (73A: One of the Big Four accounting firms) (?), UEYS, YEH, and TCM-type glue. And the puzzle is ENHANCED by such things as TMINUSZERO (75D: Moment of liftoff), ASSEENONTV (3D: Print ad come-on), PROMDATES (59D: Some corsage wearers), and the always popular LINEARA (120A: Ancient, undeciphered writing system). He seems to know the way to a linguist's heart. I'd say it's worthy of a MICDROP.

Now, it's back downstairs to watch the talent show and the finals! Should be exciting, as Mr. Feyer has another real challenge on his hands with young Mr. Agard! Another weekend of thrills and excitement in Stamford!

- Horace

Out of the 140 words in this puzzle, there were four I didn't know - that's almost 3%! Like esteemed commenter, Huygens, I was not familiar with ROUNDER - as word, that is :) I've also never come across a PEDUNCLE before, and frankly, I'm not sure I want to. TANSIES was new to me. And what are MEGATS? And don't say mega t's.

I agree with the fun fill cited by Horace above. I also enjoyed MONAMI (How Hercule Poirot likes to address Hastings), TINHATS (Paranoid sorts, in slang), which calls to mind the excellent Simpson episode "Brother's Little Helper", and everyone's favorite, RYE (Manhattan part ... or a suburb near Manhattan).

As reported in yesterday's special edition, we had a great time in Stamford this weekend. I've come away with some new ACPT-year resolutions. To wit:
  • Do more practice puzzles in pencil
  • Review all country and state capitals
  • Memorize all sports team names, associated mascots, and stadia
  • Learn the names of the Big Four accounting firms
  • Get into rap music
  • Avoid oncoming vehicles at crossings

Saturday, March 24, 2018

ACPT - Special Report!

Reporting live from Stamford, it's your friends Frances, Colum, and Horace, where after the results of puzzle four, Colum stands in FOURTH place in the C division! Frannie and I... well, let's just not talk about where we are... let's just say we're somewhere in the pack.

In the category of less than surprising news, it turns out that if you go by an alias in your NYT xword blogging, it's a safe bet that people won't know who you are by your name tag. So Colum, who does not have an alias, has been recognized by multiple folks, including Puzzle Master Supreme Will Shortz. It was a moment of unexpected pleasure that he told Colum that this very blog is one of his favorites. Mr. Shortz then went on to recommend this very blog, the one that you are currently reading, to another person, citing the URL.


I find Horace's one-word description of the comments made by Mr. Shortz about this blog to be apt. Apt!

I am having a great time, as usual, here at the ACPT, but I, for one, am glad to be pseudonymous right now because Frannie's alter ego is tanking. And who wants to read the musings on crossword puzzles by a derelict puzzler? A momentary triumph, after speeding through puzzle four (despite being warned against it), turned to gloom when esteemed commentator, Mike Berman, exited the puzzle room and explained the full import of the warning. On the upside, the explanation increased my appreciation of the cleverness of the puzzle.

Yes, (Horace again), that puzzle was good. But I, too, tanked on puzzle four, and I feel bad about it. But what would the ACPT be if it didn't challenge us?! On the (sort of) upside, I think I did better on puzzle five than I have in any previous year, which is good, but I feel that this was the most accessible "Puzzle Five" for me, and I really think (yes, yes ... I'm not saying anything that 500 other ACPT participants couldn't also say...) that with ten more minutes, I could have actually finished it this year. Ah well... we'll get 'em next year! OK, over to the star this weekend (Damned non-pseudonymed blogger....) - Colum!

Temporary star. I'm sure that when the results for puzzle 5 come in, I will be far down the lists. It was a devastated ruinscape of a grid, multiple craters of white space. But I will rise above it. All the other puzzles have been much better for me. I have to say it's been a real delight meeting so many people whose names I've only seen at the top of puzzles. You all are devious, twisted, brilliant individuals, and I am proud to have the opportunity to comment on your creations. It's been a blast!

Here's to you!

- H, F, & C

Saturday, March 24, 2018, Byron Walden


My first entry was RECIDIVISM (19A: Concern of "three strikes" laws), which made me happy, and then I dropped in LOVEBOAT (2D: Old TV show set on the Pacific Princess, with "The") (An absolute gimme for people my age, and a welcome sight on a Saturday!). With those two in place I was able to make short work of the NW, groaning away at EPICISTS and RETILES, and scratching my head at GOPER. If I see Mr. Walden tomorrow, I might ask him what GOPER (15A: Mr. or Mrs. Right?) means ... no, nevermind, I just cheated and looked at xwordinfo to find out what Jeff Chen said, and it's to be parsed as "GOP'er." Mr. or Mrs. Right-wing. Wow.
The SW had its own gimmes with DOMINI (40D: D, on a cornerstone), and DOOVER (41D: Mulligan). LESSEPS (37D: Ferdinand de ____, developer of the Suez Canal), not so much. Wowza, what an obscure answer! But, as we have said many times, anything goes on Saturday.

Some excellent cluing today with 54A: Achieved green efficiency? (ONEPUTTED) (Even with the question mark, I was thinking of eco-related things), 33A: Has a fit, maybe (TRIESON) (Cute.), 6A: No bull market? (CHINASHOP) (Heh.), and 32D: And many times in France? (ETS) (Wow. Tried real hard for that one!). And there's a very good hidden capital in 12D: Mobile greeting (HIYALL), although maybe they meant "a greeting that might be heard in a mobile home?" Heh.. no, probably not.

ADHERES (30A: Cleaves), SLEDGES (11D: Haulers on runners), NOOSES (44A: Ones hanging around a haunted house?) - all interesting and slightly unusual. And the two colloquialisms running through the middle are also strong. I've never heard of CLEVERDICK (6D: Know-it-all, in Britspeak), but it certainly sounds British, doesn't it? (And yes, now that you mention it, I am sounding a little like a CLEVERDICK myself, aren't I!)

Overall, a nice challenge, and hopefully good preparation for today's tournament! The entire Horace and Frances and Colum team are down here this year. Let's hope we, and the rest of the competitors, keep the MOTTLERS to a minimum, because there are no DOOVERs!

Peace out.

- Horace

Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday, March 23, 2018, Erik Agard

0:24:02 (paper)

Tough puzzle! I spent a lot of time in the NW at the end today, and it wasn't until I reviewed the puzzle (before stopping the stopwatch!) and saw AnROPUNK for 5D: Alternative music subgenre (AFROPUNK) that I was able to change 13A: Had, as food" to ATEOF, which, in hindsight, is better than ATEOn. Boy, I just could not see that one! It didn't help that I had tried huSK at 1-Down ("Hide") and then erroneously put in hAiTi at 1-Across ("Island nation with a cross on its flag") (MALTA). The (German) shepherd clue was incredibly tough (3D: Something a shepherd may have on (LEASH))... Luckily for me, Edwin STARR was just in a puzzle a week or so ago, so I was able to get that one, but I had snIPPY for CHIPPY (22A: Given to picking fights) at first, which made ATTIC (2D: Web developer?) very difficult to see... what a disaster! Or, rather, a near disaster, since it all did come together finally.


This puzzle also contained a very difficult cross (for me, anyway) at the intersection of 55-Across (Title woman of a classic 1928 André Breton novel) (NADJA) and 49-Down (One of the Ghandis) (RAJIV). That is the exact type of cross that I expect in at least one or two of the puzzles in the ACPT this weekend. I like to think they use them to thin the herd a bit. Luckily for me, I guessed right. (RAiIV just didn't seem possible.)

Let's hope the puzzles go as well for me tomorrow! For all of us who are competing! :)

So aside from those tricky areas, and after a minute or two of sheer panic when nothing was coming to me at all, this fell together slowly. I think I got started with the gimmes of CHAN (19D: Jackie of "Rush Hour") and CRUE (26D: Mötley ____), which gave SCENE____ at 25-Across, then SABLE, then who knows what exactly...

There were several solid mid-length entries, including ZAMBONIS (36D: Crease smoothers?), FREEZER (9D: Ice cream holder), DARKDAY (39D: Trying time), KIBBUTZ (34A: Agricultural commune), and TORSION (4D: Twisting effect). The anchors KISSONTHECHEEK and MAKEUPTUTORIAL were fine. Not outstanding, but fine.

Overall, I liked the challenge. I feel it was a good warm-up for tomorrow.

See you in Stamford!

- Horace

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Thursday, March 22, 2018, Ross Trudeau

0:13:31 (paper)

That rare bird, the trickless, gimmickless Thursday puzzle. Just a regular old themed puzzle today, and that theme is social media. I can't decide whether it's fortunate or unfortunate that this comes out a day or two after the big Cambridge Analytics story... I guess I'd go with unfortunate. But we can't blame the NYTX, so let's just skirt that whole issue.


17A: One with a lot of likes? (VALLEYGIRL) is funny to me, but it's feeling a little dated these days. What was that, the 1980s when VALLEYGIRL talk was such a big thing? ROCKINROBIN (23A: One with a lot of tweets?) is even older, and then we fall into answers that are just two words put together - FENCEMENDER and MOTHERDUCK. Hmm... I guess I don't love this theme all that much. (I did like MAJORITYOWNER, though.)

In the fill I can find a few things to like, like a nice FILLET of salmon, my favorite crosswordese EEL (9D: ____ sauce (sushi condiment)) (never heard of it, and I've eaten a lot of sushi!), and the strangeness of the clue for THE (59D: Not just a). I also loved the trickery of 6D: Hard to hit pitches (HIGHCS). That's some nice clueing. I liked seeing both AMES and AMI in the grid, and AREAMAN made me think of the Onion, and that's always a good thing.

I am not familiar with EDM (40A: Techno is a subgenre of it, for short), JOFFREY (39D: Boy king on "Game of Thrones"), or JAMA (39A: Weekly reading for drs.), so I was a little nervous about having an error somewhere. Luckily, after transcribing the answers into the online puzzle, I got the congratulations screen. Phew!

Kind of a let-down start to The Turn, but I have high hopes for tomorrow and Saturday. They'll want to bring out some of their best stuff while the ACPT is going on, won't they? Won't they!?!

If you're going to the tournament, I'll look forward to seeing you there. I'll be the one wearing the "Thomas Lingner" badge. :)

- Horace

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Laura Braunstein

0:07:54 (paper)

A silly theme today with common expressions being clued to emphasize the animal homonym of the opening verb. DUCKSOUTOFVIEW for example, is clued with "Why the hunter couldn't shoot the mallards?" A bit tortured, I guess, as the more natural answer would probably be "Because the ducks were out of view," but you get the picture. The other three are all much better, and I guess my favorite is 47A: Whose conversation might be about shaggy hair and Himalayan peaks? (YAKSONTHEPHONE). So absurd.
I'm always a little troubled by clues like 34A: Who's doing this crossword (YOU), because it's really not YOU, it's me! Grrr.... but I did enjoy 6A: Where a person in charge is making the rounds? (BAR), 41A: His last words were "The rest is silence" (HAMLET), 51D: In good shape (HALE), BAFFLE (9D: Confound), and 25D: Many a single-gear bicycle (FIXIE), although I think the percentage of FIXIES drops precipitously the farther you move away from Brooklyn. :)

The long downs are adequate. DESKSETS (5D: Combo office accessories) and RESTSTOP (8D: Traveler's convenience) are a little ho-hum, but certainly not objectionable. IDIOTBOX (37D: Boob tube) is strong, and who doesn't enjoy a TAKEHOME (38D: Not-so-intimidating sort of test)? I even like SCOTTY (43D: Who was instructed to "Beam me up" on old TV), of course, even if it is now quite dated. So am I! 

Fun, clever theme. Decent Wednesday.

- Horace

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tuesday, March 20, 2018, Andrew Zhou

Between 8 and 9 minutes, on paper.

A theme appropriate for the vernal equinox. I love that the seasons' names are misspelled (or homonymized, I suppose), and I especially love "sprink" for "spring." Hah! They're all great, really. Somer, ottom,(an) windtur. Fantastic. GOLDSTARS! Right on Mr. Zhou's forehead!

The grid is a little tight in places, and there's that strange THREERINGBINDER sitting in the middle... I like a grid-spanner as much as the next solver, and it's cool that it intersects all the theme answers, but it just seems a little odd to have the word "three" so prominent in a four-season puzzle. Is that being too picky? Too "type-A?" Probably.


Favored "other fill" entries today include UMAMI (17A: Prized taste in ramen) (and other foods!), OZARK (3D: Southern Missouri's ____ Mountains) (What?! I just like the name, all right?), CERES (26D: Largest object in the asteroid belt), MEEK (62D: Easily pushed around), and GAWD (64A: "Good ____ almighty!"). I was unsure of that last one, and would have preferred "Good ____ a-mighty!" as a clue, but, well, I've come around on it.

Maybe we should have another side collection (along with favorite clues) called STUNTSHOW, for Bruce Haight, and others, who do things like make a puzzle using only 8 letters, or quadruple pangrams, and the like. Is STUNTSHOW really a thing otherwise? I say we legitimize it!

So in closing, I say to you (even though the local forecast calls for 6-10 inces of snow tomorrow... grumblegrumblegrumble...) Happy Spring!

- Horace

Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018, Andrea Carla Michaels and Michael Wiesenberg

0:08:42 (paper)

A colorful RAINBOW theme today with all seven ROY G. BIV colors represented. I suppose it would have been impossible to put them all in the proper order... but still, I love it! All the theme answers are decent, except maybe VIOLETRAY (35D: *Antique medical device used for electrotherapy), which seems a little too obscure. I suppose some would argue that GREENARROW (60A: *DC Comics superhero with the sidekick Speedy), but since I have actually watched several episodes of the recent GREENARROW TV show, and therefore got the answer off the clue, I can't really comment on that. Also, I can't really recommend the show, either. It started off all right, but boy, it got pretty bad after a season or two.

The clue for DILL (34D: It's in a pickle) is odd, isn't it? I mean, I guess it's right, because the essence of dill somehow gets into a pickle, but is it really in there? Or has the pickle just been transformed somehow by the dill? OK, probably not worth thinking too much about...

How strange that DUMA (40A: Russian legislature) and ITI (43D: "Lord, is it ____?": Matthew 26:22) are in again today after showing up with essentially the same clues just yesterday!

The theme is really thick today - what is that, 72 squares of theme? - and I think the rest of the fill suffered a bit because of it. AROAR and ASEA always seem a little BLAND, and LIII, ACS, and EEG are crutches. Still, there's some fun with ZAPPED, OUZO, and MONORAIL. I love the theme, and I guess that's enough today.

- Horace

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday, March 18, 2018, Daniel Raymon


Quite a cute little theme today, wherein the K sound in a phrase (or person's name) is replaced with the QU sound: trenchcoat :: TRENCHQUOTE (39A: "There are no athiests in foxholes"?) and peachy keen :: PEACHYQUEEN (105A: Monarch who's fine and dandy?). Pretty good. I was not familiar with Kerry Washington, so QUERYWASHINGTON (24A: Interrogate a founding father) didn't mean much to me. And speaking of presidents, I had to look up the president with the initials RWR (9D: Presidential inits.). It's Ronald Wilson Reagan. I'm pretty sure you could have waterboarded me forever and I still couldn't have come up with his middle name.


And one more thing about presidents, I didn't know Charles de Gaulle was born in LILLE, but it's nice to learn. We spent a few days in LILLE a while ago and found it to be a fun and interesting town. I recommend it.

MARACAIBO (56A: Largest lake in South America) is something that I will try to commit to memory. I enjoyed answers like QUAHOGS, BROADAX, AEOLIAN (100D: Kind of harp), PENANCE, APATHY, and PLANETS. On the other side of the quoin we have REDYE, ANNOYER, CEE, ETHNO, IED, RARER, ISE, and ERY. Perhaps a little more of this than usual on a Sunday, but still, the theme was funnish, so I guess it's all good.

I'm not sure if Colum is back yet, but if he is, he might have a little more to say.

Less than a week left before the ACPT! If you're not attending this year, you can still play along in real time by solving online. Frannie and I did this before we started going to Stamford, and it's really quite fun. More info here.


- Horace

I don't really have much to add. On the whole, I thought the theme was well worked out, and the Q words in the down direction were reasonable. My favorite was QUAHOGS, and second was 107D: The so-called "Flying Kangaroo" (QANTAS). I was not expecting an airline, but rather an Australian acrobat.

My favorite clue is 75D: Things with colons inside them (URLS). So much better than "abdomens" or some such thing.

Anyway, no errors today, and perhaps I will mirror that performance next weekend. HOPESO!

- Colum

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saturday, March 17, 2018, Roland Huget

0:20:53 (paper)

Top o' the mornin' to ya! It's Horace here, one day early, to fill in for Mr. Amory, who is out of range today. On his behalf, I will note that this puzzle was very segmented, with five separate solving zones, some of which - for me - fell quite a bit faster than others.


I dropped in MALLCOP at 1A (Official on a Segway, maybe), and then got LITRE (4D: Petrol measure) and CLEO (5D: Role for Liz in '63), which led to ENERO (19A: When Día de los Reyes is celebrated), and ETAILER (15A: Merchant with tiny shopping carts) (meh), and that was that. VERE (23A: Edward Fairfax ____, "Billy Budd" captain) was a complete unknown, but it just had to be. (See also: RENE (47A: ____ Belbenoît, noted escapee from Devil's Island), STARR (28D: Edwin with the 1970 #1 hit "War"), and LOUELLA (36D: Parsons of old Hollywood gossip).)

Luckily, I was listening to a lot of k.d. lang in the 1990's, so CONSTANTCRAVING was a gimme with those first three letters. Unluckily, I tried "raw sienna" (yes, I know, it's "burnt sienna" and "raw umber"...) at 34A: Reddish orange (TANGERINE), which really fouled up that middle section. As did my decision to leave elCID in place for far too long!

In the SW corner, I was really hoping that 35D: Where drones return (AIRBASE) was talking about bees instead of weapons, but oh well.

The right side was much harder for me than the left. I knew I knew the word CAPSTAN (8A: Rotating part of a tape recorder), but it took several crosses before I could dredge it up. (If you ask me, everything about cassette tapes should be forgotten!) And all I could think of was "orecchiete" for 16A: Another name for an ear shell (ABALONE). And speaking of Italian food, did you notice that "spumONI" fit in at 12D: Trattoria dessert (TORTONI)? Hmph.

NOTIT (22A: Playground declaration) brought a smile, as did the tricky KNESSET (40D: Mideast diet). Ever since being burned by that alternate definition of "diet" in a puzzle many years ago, I've been able to think of it when necessary. In stark contrast to my recurring inability to correctly understand the kind of clue used in SILENTT (59A: Depot's terminus?). Every. Single. Time. They get me!

Overall, a fun, somewhat challenging solve. Now it's time for a Guinness! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

- Horace

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018, Robyn Weintraub

6:13 (FWOE)

One-third of my Thursday time! But with a silly error. I guessed ETa, thinking even as I did it that it might be a D, but I never checked back. I wondered about ARRIa. Ah well. At the tournament, I'd have 45 seconds to take a look over and see if I made a mistake, right?

Meanwhile, this puzzle was right on my wavelength in so many different ways. My first answer was 2D: Genetic disorder carried by Queen Victoria (HEMOPHILIA). I recently read a biography of Tsar Nicholas, who was married to Victoria's granddaughter, Alexandra. Their son had hemophilia, which is a horrible disease, by the way. But a gimme for me nonetheless.

SONDHEIM was another immediate gimme, as was CHEVRE (drooling right now...) and LIVER. That whole corner fell in under 30 seconds. 1D: School card (CLASSCLOWN) is going on the list of great clues. I don't think we've added anything to that list for quite some time. [Turns out it was just last week. D'oh!]

Meanwhile, 20D: Mozart title (HERR) is also very good, and I smiled but was not at all fooled by 36A: Port authority? (WINEMAKER).

But seriously, that's not even all. There's a Monty Python reference (KINGARTHUR), an astronomy/Greek mythology reference (CHARON), an acknowledgement of Joe BIDEN's awesomeness.

I have absolutely no complaints except that it was too easy.

- Colum

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thursday, March 15, 2018, Joe DiPietro


I had an incredible amount of difficulty with the NW corner today. Nothing would go in. Stared at it for at least five minutes before getting KEYIN. I'll argue that NUTLIKE is completely out there, while SUPE is rough. And why is 2D: Gut feeling? answered by KNOT? Do people get a knot in their gut? I would never have thought of that. On the other hand, I do appreciate POTTY mouth. I'd wanted mOTor for a while.

So... I guess it's THEIDES of March, huh? In honor, there are four phrases in the long down answers that begin with "I'd". I don't love IDTAKETHAT, which sounds a bit ad hoc. The other three are very strong, with my favorite being IDRATHERNOT.

It was odd to come across ACAIBERRY in the full form, rather than the partial we typically find in the puzzle. I tried TAXevadER at first, which also slowed me down. There were multiple occasions in solving this puzzle where I wondered if a rebus was in play, but sadly no.

How excellent was it that ENSUE crosses ANTECEDE? Not that I'm particularly fond of either answer.

Maybe next weekend I'll drown my sorrows with Horace and Frannie at the ACPT BARSCENE.

- Colum

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Jeff Chen


Mr. Chen has whipped up a quick MARINARA sauce in today's very Wednesday seeming puzzle. I am appreciative that the circles are actually necessary in this puzzle. I wouldn't have been able to find the string of letters I needed to anagram to each ingredient otherwise. As it is, I find onion, tomato, garlic, and herbs in each theme answer.


The theme answers themselves are at least acceptable. HOTOATMEAL feels a little ad hoc, but BARBERSHOP, ZEROINON, and ARTIFICIALGRASS are all strong.

I was slowed by entering MONamour for 5D: "My darling," in France (MONCHERI). Either is reasonable, I think. There are a number of very nice longer answers, such as AEROSMITH, ARGONAUT, and MCHAMMER.

I also very much liked 13A: Pioneering text adventure game (ZORK). I still remember working my way through those games with a good deal of nostalgia.

I imagine some will say that adding "disparagingly" to the clue at 63A will not excuse the use of the word CRETIN in the puzzle. It certainly has a negative connotation, separate from the medical sense of a person deformed by a congenital thyroid deficiency. My initial reaction was that it's a longstanding English word, but then I thought how I'd feel seeing a racist epithet in the grid. OKFINE, I'll join my voice to the chorus.

But maybe we can just all share some SUDS in the SAUNA and acknowledge all the ways Mr. Chen has neatly put in words that end in _SP (TSP, ISP, ASPS).

- Colum

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tuesday, March 13, 2018, Carl Worth


How do you get rid of ENNUI? In my life, you do the NYT xword every day! One thing I would not do however, is POKE a turtle that's withdrawn into its shell. Leave the poor animal alone, say I!

Anyway, like Horace said yesterday, what will they think of next? This a very well executed theme. The revealer, KEYWEST, says it all. The left half of each theme answer phrase (that is the part towards the west of the puzzle) is a standard computer keyboard key.

The four phrases are excellent. My favorite is definitely ESCAPEROOM. I did one of these at the mall for my birthday in 2017. It was not the greatest example, I'm told. For her birthday, Cece and her friends tried one of the really hard local examples, and nearly made it out in one hour. Although I'm hardly a Metallica fan, ENTERSANDMAN is my second favorite theme answer.

There's some Scrabbly goodness in the SE corner, where JAKARTA and ZAPPA cross each other. On the downside, I don't like that ORONO comes after MAINE, so the connection is backwards as you solve. But I do like ADAM symmetrically across from ABEL, and the dual "Zap, in a way" clues are nice as well.

And we're done. SNORT!

- Colum

Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018, John R. O'Brien


Hey, it's Colum again, a new week, and that much closer to ACPT. I am very pleased to have made it under four minutes while solving on paper. I think my training is paying off!

I had one major hiccup: 38D: "Allow me" (ICANHELP). I tried ICANdoit, which I think is closer to the correct interpretation of the quoted phrase, but that cuts no beans when it doesn't fit with the crosses. I looked at 50A: "Star Wars Episode IV" subtitle, where I had ANEWD___ and thought: "There's no way that's 'A New Deal', is there?" Nope, ANEWHOPE, as any redblooded self-respecting American knows.

Before I get to the good stuff, I'm just going to acknowledge three answers whose spelling I was unsure about as I entered them. The first is HADJI. I never know if it's going to be DJ or JJ. Then there was 11D: Blood-related (HEMAL). Yuck. That's just not a real term at all, speaketh the physician. Finally, there is DECA. I just left the third letter blank until I saw the ___K in the crossing answer, and figured it had to be C.

The theme today has to do with ONE EYEd things. SAMMYDAVISJR lost his left eye in a car accident. POLYPHEMUS lost his single eye to Odysseus. The JACKOFSPADES is a classic one-eyed Jack, but does he really not have another eye out of sight? And finally...

Nobody knows how he lost an eye
1A: Parts missing from the Venus de Milo (ARMS) starts the puzzle off with a bang. I also liked GLORIA and SEEGER, and COZEN is a great word as well.

- Colum

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday, March 11, 2018, Matthew Sewell


In this puzzle, five dogs of literary and comic strip fame (ASTA, ODIE, NANA, TOTO, and SANDY) have become separated from their owners and are "lost" in longer answers elsewhere in the grid. My favorite answer is also my least favorite: at 46A we find ODIE in YOYODIETERS. I like the expression yo yo dieters, but anyone who knows me knows that I have a long-standing animosity to the Garfield comic strip. The owner or owners of each dog is a separate answer to a clue that offers a brief description of the dog and calls asks for the person or persons to call if the dog is found. "Last seen being mocked by a cat. If found call ____" JONARBUCKLE.

The dog names are nicely incorporated across multiple words in the answers, and they all appear in different parts of the grid from the owners. I was surprised at the number of the dog/owner pairs I knew. I figured out the theme with LITTLEORPHANANNIE, but her dog was the one whose name I was least familiar with, giving me some trouble in the southeast. The crosses weren't much help because I didn't know the Utah Mountain range UINTA, I wasn't sure how they were going to spell UEY, and I think SCREEN is an odd answer for "Moviedom." Props to Mr. Sewell for pounding all the dogs and owners into the grid without leaving too much junk around. I might wish the belt of answers across the middle (TPKS, HAI, BAJA, RTE) had been tightened up a bit, but those four answers work out to less than 3% of the total fill. There was some nice bonus theme material with LOSTDOG at 1A and and SIC. As an aside, DOROTHYGALE is an hilariously apt name for the central character of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Apt!


Well, it's time for me to blow this hot dog stand and turn the gig over to a professional. GOTOTOWN, Colum.


Great week of reviews, Frannie! I think we all know who the professional is around here.

I had a hilarious time trying to figure out why the dogs were advertising for their lost owners, mistaking the blanks in the clues as if they were to be filled by the pets' names. Why, why, why, I asked myself, was LITTLEORPHANANNIE clued as being in the company of a red-haired girl? Also, I'll say here that I'd thought it might be Charlie Brown, who pined after a little redheaded girl.

Anyway, figured all that out. I'll just point out that 1A: Heading on a neighborhood poster (LOSTDOG) is part of the theme as well.

My favorite clue and answer is 87D: Love all around? (NOSCORE). Took a long time to get that!

- Colum

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Saturday, March 10, 2018, Ryan McCarty


OHHI. Frannie here, ONLINE once again with the Saturday puzzle review.

Since there's no theme today, I thought it would be best if I HADALISP of clues and answers I liked, so here goes:

  • Opposite of downs (SIPS) - this meaning of 'down' gets me every time.
  • Modern test subject (DNA) - a nice, open-to-multiple-interpretations (OTMI (tm)) clue. 
  • Org. concerned with cracking and leaking had me thinking EPA at first, but no, NSA! So many orgs... 
  • Breath-taking experience (SLEEPAPNEA) - aptnea!
  • Quaint retort (TISNT) - I'll be using this one tonight at the 1920's-themed party we're attending at a local art museum. 
  • "Jeannie out of the Bottle" memoirist (BARBARAEDEN) - who doesn't dream of Jeannie? 
  • Changes keys? (ISLANDHOPS) - indeed. 

I struggled a bit in the south east where I had trouble piecing together how to connect PIE with DEAR and figuring out what either one had to do with "Spot for a stud"(PIERCEDEAR). Derp. ERMA didn't help.


Clues that caused me to say to myself, ITSODD, were CADENCED (In rhythm) and GASTAP. I've never heard of a gas tap. I tried GASTAx [SIC] at first, which I thought could function as one kind of control, but POI, was I off base.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Friday, March 9, 2018, Neville Fogarty and Doug Peterson


I thought I was in the groove dropping answers like RATPACK, EBENEZER, and GANGSTA right in. That gave me the false impression that this puzzle was going to be straightforward, instead, in the end, it took me for a SCRAPE round to Dinsdale's place. Things really blew up in the northwest with KABLOOEY (Bad way to go) crossing ABUDHABI and OLGA, amid other uncertainties. I only just now understood 4D. "Giant competitor" (PADRE) on reviewing the clues.

I spelled GROMeT wrong, leaving me with LEA_eN for "Show immediately preceding another," a clue I had trouble parsing. Other NEMESES included NBAJAM, ASWAN, ADOANNIE, and NOSLOUCH.

Happily, I am not familiar with the term NIGHTMAREFUEL, but I was able to guess the nightmare part pretty quickly. EXOTICA and XRATED really SOUPED up the mid section. I liked LUKEWARM and TASTEBUD, too.


GROAN for "Express stress, in a way" I thought was way off base. Not unpossible, of course, just SEWNON interesting, nor apt.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Thursday, March 8, 2017, Jim Quinlan


I'm not quite sure how to describe today's theme. Take the "g" off the gerund and stress the vowel sound of the first word to make it sound like a common expression that is spelled differently. How's that for apt? I wish I could come up with a COINAGE that makes the theme both immediately clear and hilarious, but I can't. Maybe one of our ESTEEMed readers can PITCHIN.

My favorite of the theme-that-will-not-be-pithily-captured-by-me was PLAYINFOLKS. I thought that one worked best on both levels.

The solve went relatively smoothly for me. I did put in 'merino' where ALPACA belongs, and Tow (It can give drivers a lift (TEE)) at first, which slowed down the south west, but not for long.

OLA drew my ATTN in today's puzzle because it is similar to ELLO from Tuesday's puzzle, in that both words are greetings and both have variants with an "H" at the beginning. OSMIC, man (I really wanted to work that into Tuesday's review, but I couldn't.)

Today's ACES (or FGGs (tm)):

  • To be remembered for a very long time (EPIC) - apt!
  • Skip about (CAPER) - I should definitely caper more often.
  • Birds that cronk (GEESE) - how 'bout that word cronk?!? I don't know how long it would have taken me to get the answer if the clue had been "Sound made by geese"
  • You might take them to do a good job (PAINS)
  • "I meant somebody else" (NOTYOU) - I just like to imagine situations in which this could reasonably be said. 
  • Nice touch (CARESS) - nice twist. 

I was very happy with the clue at 51D. Search simplifier (INDEX) - I love an index - just ask Horace! :) And, having the venerable OED placed very near by it resulted in a small pocket of reference work heaven.



Answers I might "Edit out" (DELE):
CLEANEST for "Most upright" at 11D? It's OK, of course, but not a clue/answer pair I consider apt.

BUCS, OVA, CAL, CSI, SVU, EPA ATTIRE me, but you won't find me complaining about 63A. ESP : Spain :: ___ : Netherlands (NED). :)


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Wednesday, March 7, 2018, Natan Last, Andy Kravis, and the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class


The constructors hit this one out of the parking lot with some unparalled clues and fill. :) My favorite is "That's a moray!" (EEL) Ha! Such a great take on an old favorite. Maybe it's been used before; I can't be bothered to check. Even the junky LLC gets an upgrade with the clue "Business letters?"

Some other clever clues I enjoyed (FGGs (tm)):
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (ALIASES)
D as in dates? (DOMINI)
Cozy places? (TEAROOMS)
He's a doll (KEN)

While cute and well executed, I thought the theme was almost beside the point. The puzzle theme itself "parks" two auto makes in parallel Across locations in the grid:

The group of constructors seems to have also hit upon a fasten-ating mini theme featuring the interesting 33A. "Denoting a 3" nail, so-called from its original cost" (TENPENNY), and supported by 40A. Nail (ACE) and 47A. Nail (NAB)


With such an abundance of clever and interesting fill, it seems ungenerous to kvetch, but I did have two minor complaints. IRED (Plenty angry) and TRAC (___ II (Gillette razor)) were not of the same caliber as other entries in today's grid.


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Tuesday, March 6, 2018, Bruce Greig


The puzzle's theme answers offer a parade of animal-inspired (?) locomotions from FROGMARCH to GOOSESTEP. I guess my favorite is TURKEYTROT, although, we are getting a lot of turkeys 'round these parts lately and trot is an overstatement when you are waiting for them to get out of the way. Turkey amble is more like it. Of course, the answer was referring to an old ragtime dance, not the pace of an actual turkey, but it made me think of it. For some reason, I tried to come up with other entries. Would pussy foot work?

There were a number of additional theme work horses, so to speak, including Hogwash (LIES), Swine (BOARS), and Young raptor (EAGLET), not to mention Operating smoothly, as an engine (PURRING).

Frannie's Grid Goodies (TM) [sorry!] for today are TOUSLE, LOGE, ALFALFA, BARRIOS, and LEISURE. I enjoyed the clue at 51D. "Coverage of senators in ancient Rome?" (TOGAS) and "Bad thing to have on one's face" (EGG). I thought 31D, "One of two in 'Waiting for Godot'" was especially nice because the play has two characters (Vladimir and Estragon) in addition to two ACTs.


Less ADMIRED by me were ABACI, SOUTHER, and SRA. I thought "Trickled" as a clue for OOZED was less than perfectly apt. ASP! I also think constructors should say goodbye to ELLO.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018, Lynn Lempel


Ms. Lempel lets the air out of STUFFEDSHIRTs and other unflattering names for self-important types with her clues for today's theme answers. I enjoyed the answer BLUESTOCKING, but feel like it's the odd man out in this group, so to speak. According to the Wikipedia, a bluestocking is an educated, intellectual woman, more specifically a member of the 18th-century Blue Stockings Society.  Until the late 18th century, the term had referred to learned people of both sexes, but was subsequently applied primarily to intellectual women. That being the case, it will come as no surprise that the term later developed negative implications.

The four longer down answers were solid. I especially liked CHRONICLE, which I thought was aptly clued. I also enjoyed both the PORKYPIG and LINUS references. Linus was the best Peanuts character, if a little bit of a SMARTYPANTS. :)


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sunday, March 4, 2018, Byron Walden


Let's see... what is this theme? Kind of a word ladder, I guess, but the word is constructed with every theme answer, not changed. The addition of an extra letter in a common phrase creates eight new words:

23A: Equally pensive? INTHOUGHTASMUCH - extra N turns I to IN
30A: Commit a peccadillo? SINSOMESMALLWAY - extra S turns in to SIN
47A: Perform the hit "Things I Should Have Said"? SINGOFOMISSION G/SING
55A: The Police frontman filming a shampoo commercial? STINGINTHESHOWER T/STING
66A: Tying packages, securing helium balloons, etc.? STRINGOPERATIONS R/STRING
77A: The Beatles showing absolute amazement? STARINGQUARTET A/STARING
93A: First weapons used in a knife fight? STARTINGDAGGERS T/STARTING
105A: Surprising group of suspects? STARTLINGLINEUP L/STARTLING

Pretty cool, really, and somehow it seems appropriate to run it on the only day of the year that sounds like a complete sentence if you say it out loud: "March forth." Guffaw. And speaking of guffawing, my favorite themer was SINGOFOMISSION. So absurd.


It seems like there's more white space than usual for a Sunday. The center is kind of circled off, and the entry into the corners is a little tight, but the corners themselves are awfully chunky. I was a little worried at first glance, but the solve went right along. I did have to stop toward the end to figure out the theme to help me get SINSOMESMALLWAY.

I loved LIONTAMING (5D: Performance for which one might grab a chair). Never heard of NEISSE (51D: German border river).

Over to you, Frannie!

- Horace

I found the theme entries something of a struggle to come up with, but as they say, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger! :)

I had the most trouble with SINSOMESMALLWAY because I didn't know SEGO (Kind of lily) and, although I thought of MARM (School closing?) I kept rejecting it because I was interpreting 'closing' too literally. Derp.

A HATTIP to HORDE, AEROBE, NOISETTE (new word for me, but I'm not much for lamb), STIFFS, LANAI, TBONE, WREST, FEY, and PSHAWS.

I also liked the clues Out of control? (ONAUTO), "Park it" (SIT), Advance look, say (PEEK), and Do with a pick, maybe (FRO).

Putting this building together left a lot of scraps lying around, including SEP, ENG, AMC, MSG, CALI, ICU, GOA, NEG, EMI, and VID. OTC!


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018, Damon Gulczynski


As was the case yesterday, my last two entries were merely educated guesses: The U of RUR (46D: 1921 play for which the word "robot" was invented), and the A of TARAS (13D: Gogol's "____ Bulba.") The former, I had put in immediately with LAOTZU, but removed the U after I read the down clue, because I know that the English spelling of the great philosopher's name can vary. And, not being especially enlightened myself, ARHAT was only very dimly on the horizons of my memory. Still, nice outcome. :)

The Rumble in the Jungle

The rest of the puzzle pretty much flew by like a Wednesday. The '70s sports references (ZAIRE, ALI, SANTO) were gimmies for this old man. I had "arkS" briefly at 1D: Bible supporters, often (PEWS), and TiNt at 37D: Shade (TONE), but those might have been my only two missteps, and they were quickly corrected.

The nine-stacks in the NW and SE were strong. POSTERIZE, WHATSMORE, and ARISTOTLE were my favorite three entries. EXCUSEYOU (35D: "How rude!") was fun, and NUDESCENE (43A: Hot take?) was cute. Also, "Real stunner," with no question mark, was a good clue for TASER.

Not much to bark at today. Just a smattering of PARA, IPO, and ASTI -type things. Overall, a bit quick, but a fun solve.


- Horace

Friday, March 2, 2018

Friday, March 2, 2018, Joe DiPietro and Rachel Maddow


I still haven't started solving on paper, but I'm glad I didn't today, because I never would have known if I was done or not! I have never heard of FOIAREQUEST (58A: Journalist's tool since '67), IPCRESSFILE (15A: 1965 Michael Cane spy thriller, with "The"), or the COUGHBUTTON (18A: What might help a hacker go undetected?). That last one, I understand, but the first two I'm not really even sure how to parse. My last entries were the R and G of ARGONNE (7D: W.W. I battle locale), and even though I knew it was right, I wondered as I was filling it in if maybe there were a different WWI battle site that might fit there. I mean, the Ardennes is pretty close, right?


So anyway, the theme, if there is one, is lost on me. I've heard the name Rachel Maddow, and I guess maybe she's on TV or radio, or both, and maybe she's a reporter? Is that right? Maybe one of those TVHOSTS?

On the up side, I love that they got BITEME (11D: "Kiss my grits!") (Is Rachel Maddow from the South?) in there, and ROCKFANS (1D: Those who've seen both Europe and Asia, say) got a big groan. As did the clue for DIODE (47A: Cellphone component). Really? That's how you're cluing that? And is SLOTTING (38D: Programming manager's specialty) intended to be connected to the "theme" somehow? Because if it isn't ... !

Wait, I started that last paragraph trying to be positive. Let's get back to that. ALGORE (45D: Who said "Take it from me, every vote counts") was good/sad, and MARAUD (24D: Go pirating) and CRITIQUE (36D: Review) are good words. RSVPED ... not so much.

OK, let's call it a day.

- Horace

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Thursday, March 1, 2018, Timothy Polin


OK, I said I would start solving on paper today, but I have a big symposium that I have to be at all day (and at which I will introduce one of the speakers!), so I didn't know when I'd have time to print it out, do it, and then write the review, so one more day of computer-solving for me. We'll see what that does to me at the tournament. Of course, I've never taken any time to solve on paper before either of the last three tournaments, and they've all been fun, so why am I worrying?


Today I was happy to see a rebus, but it took me quite a while to realize how it worked in the Down direction. This I credit to my terrible habit of only half-reading long clues, which is especially unhelpful when the clues are revealers. 61A: Classic letter puzzle -- or, when parsed differently, a hint to three Down answers in this puzzle (WORDSQUARE) clearly states that the square, when used for Downs, can be either W or D. And "W or D," when read across, spells "WORD." Brilliant. I love it!

On the whole, this felt a tad on the easy side, but it still took me fifteen minutes, so I guess that might just be a false impression.

I loved seeing ANYHOO (4D: "Moving right along...") in there. I had "ANYHOw," at first, and was very nervous when I had 27A starting with "dPRw" for a while. Yikes! TRIASSIC (6D: Period when mammals first appeared) went right in (Hi Dad!), but when "passeggiata" (Hi Italy!) didn't fit at 28D: Evening stroll (PASEO), I had to wait for crosses. And speaking of waiting for crosses, I think I had six of the seven before I figured out DOORDIE (43D: Last-ditch), and nearly as many for CUPOFCOCOA (31D: Place for a marshmallow).

Overall, I love this one. It's a great new take on the Schrödinger square, and there's plenty of bonus material to make us overlook ENHALO and UNTUNE.

- Horace