Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tuesday, July 31, 2018, David Woolf


Today's theme revealer is DOTDOTDOT (Indication of more to come ... or what 17-, 28-, and 43-Across all contain) seems accurate as far as the clue/answer pair at 55A goes, but the three theme answers (WEBDUBOIS, JRRTOLKIEN, FAOSCHWARZ) don't actually contain any dots at all. Some might argue that I am being too literal, but I thought it was a little LOOPY. Unless, maybe the more to come is the dots in the names... :)

We get some zippy fill in the grid. I liked ERSATZ, SUEDE, TEEM, WEIRDOEMBOSS, RAINOUT, and REDCOAT.

While I had little trouble with the puzzle as a whole, I did get held up at 58A: Novelist Seton/56D: Actor Sheridan of "Ready Player One" cross. I remembered the author as ANnA Seton - incorrectly. If I hadn't already entered ANNA up at 15A (Actress Kendrick or Paquin), I certainly would have FWOED. Some might argue that the non-nameness of TnE might have tipped me off to my error, but ever since I encountered HODAKOTB in a puzzle, I've given up judging what might and might not be a name. Not that there's anything wrong with Hoda Kotb as a name, but having never heard of her, I was unable to guess that combination of letters as a name ("Today" co-host beginning in 2007). In this case, I ran the alphabet, and eventually got to Y making ANYA, which was a strong enough possibility to carry the unknown-to-me TYE with it.

As with ANNA and ANYA in the same puzzle, I was a little surprised by ENE and ENO, and the very similar DAUB and DABS answers, the latter of which crossed at the D. The word JIBE doesn't ENLACE with my favorable sensibilities, but tho I shake my tiny FIST when I hear it, the word ENDORs.


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018, Gary Cee


Game on, puzzle friends, starting with the theme! There are six two-word theme answers that each end with a judgement as to the status of a pitch or play commonly rendered by umpires in baseball games, all summed up by the revealer CLOSECALL. For example, 51A: "Attack from the sky" is AIRSTRIKE and 35D: "Vacationer's container for valuables is HOTELSAFE. I particularly enjoyed 25A. "Spilling a drink or eating all the guacamole, say" (PARTYFOUL), which, for some reason, reminds me to mention FUNSPONGE (One who sucks the joy out the room) in Saturday's puzzle. Ha!

Other athletic support in the puzzle included ESPN, TEE, NHLTEAMREF, and ERRORS.

Fill-wise I liked CADENCE, VEST, SPIFFUP, STEALTH, and TACIT. Also, I love NAAN. Best bread EVER. Better than Ezra in two ways. One, because it is, and two, because Ezra wasn't the correct answer.

I was amused to note that the puzzle contains both SEAU and ESAU, one a 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker, and the other mentioned more than 70 times in Genesis. The same, but different. And speaking of Genesis, how about the clue in Sunday's puzzle, 55A: First character in Genesis? I tried to jam "gamma" in there, but I was thrown by another curve ball. The answer was SOFTG. Rho!


I won't cry foul, but I was not a fan of IHOPE for 52D: "If there's any justice!" The clue-answer pair lacks the parallelism that I value.

Let us not say ADIEU, mes amis, but à demain!


Boswords 2018 - Special Report!

Hello Crossword Puzzle Fans! I spent a very pleasant afternoon at the second annual Boswords tournament, and I thought I'd write a little about the experience.

First of all, I love that it's so local! It's a beautiful day today in Boston, and it's Sunday, so the traffic on the roads was minimal. I had considered taking public transportation to the event, but it would have cost me something like $20 (commuter rail to north station, orange line, bus, shuttle) and taken about an hour and forty-five minutes, so I rode my bike instead, which took me around 40 minutes, and was free! :)

The Championship Puzzle being contested.
Once inside, I saw some familiar faces from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (A.C.P.T.), including one former champ. There's a fair amount of mingling out in the lobby, and then we all move into the gymnasium and settle into our seats (plenty of them, no fretting about that). John Lieb (who seems like the nicest guy) says a few words, and the puzzles are passed out. Following the model of the A.C.P.T., the first puzzle is a softball, and after that was an entertaining lesson on solving a crossword, with advice like "When you are stuck at the end and have some blank squares, just make them into extra black squares!"

Puzzle Two, too, didn't really pose any problems. Things are going well, I'm cruising along, and then comes Puzzle Three, by the Notorious B.E.Q. It was there, Dear Reader, that I met my Waterloo. A cross of two unknowns gave me my only error of the day. Blergh. But, I picked myself up and went clean through the last two. One error in five puzzles. I guess it's not bad, but it's not a clean tournament. On the bright side, I still have room for improvement. Right?...

But more than just recount my puzzle solving experience, I want to encourage you, if you enjoy crosswords and you have ever thought of attending a tournament, to consider this one. It's smaller than the A.C.P.T., and although the vibe in Stamford is plenty friendly, this kicked it up a notch. As I said, John Lieb and Andrew Kingsley - and really everyone associated with this thing - seem really nice. After the third puzzle they handed out pizza (plain cheese only - a decision I applaud), various individual-size chip and snack bags, and what appeared to be homemade chocolate chip cookies. I wasn't expecting that!

Also at the break (or after it, I guess), there was a performance by the Boston Typewriter Orchestra. If you've never heard of them, they are kind of like Stomp, but instead of prancing around a stage with brooms and trash cans, they're seated in front of typewriters at a table. It's kind of fun to hear them pounding away for a while, but after the fifth "song" (they performed again before the final), and maybe even a little before that, I had heard about enough. Still, I appreciated the effort to provide a little more entertainment (and, oh, did I mention that the entry fee is just $20?!), and the opportunity for a new experience.

At the end of the afternoon, the final puzzle was contested. At the A.C.P.T., the competitors are on stage solving on extra-large grids, but at Boswords, they solve on computers, and their screens are displayed above them on a huge screen. I found that I was able to follow the action much more easily with this method. It was fascinating to see the way they moved around the board, and the solve of the eventual winner was a thing of beauty. She didn't get anything in the top left, but found a foothold in the top right, and moved calmly, but quickly, through the entire grid, working a section completely before flowing into the next. Congratulations, Katie Hamill, on an impressive win.

One last thing - as the champions were named in the "Paw Sox" and "Pairs" divisions, it occurred to me that all the champions at this year's Boswords were women. Cool.

So that's kind of a lot of writing, but I had a great time. Thank you, Boswords Team, for a lovely afternoon of puzzling. I will definitely be back next year!

- Horace

Sunday, July 29, 2018, Will Nediger


I love this kooky, three-in-one theme! The puzzle played a little harder than a usual Sunday for me, and I was just going along, ignoring all the theme clues and trying to fill in some squares. Eventually, things started going well and I got, almost by accident, MANHATTAN. Then I re-read the clue for that one - 86A: Result of wearing a fedora at the beach - and WOOSH!, I gave out an audible groan. An appreciative groan, mind you, but wow.

(un-) 27-Across

So Mr. Nediger has found normal words that can be broken into three parts. Not exactly three words, but three sections of meaning, as in what may be my favorite - PROPAGANDA (40A: Prosecutor who's sympathetic to the defendants in a witch trial). How can you not chuckle at that? Anyway, I love it. Some are just too absurd, like REINFORCEMENT (58A: Bridle strap utilized only on sidewalk surfaces), but for the most part, they at least got a chuckle. EXTERNALLY ... heh...

There seemed to be quite a few 7-plus-letter words in the Downs, and I credit them with providing at least some of the extra difficulty. Things that were not, for me, immediately gettable, like WILDROSE (11D: Iowa's state flower), GALUMPH (12D: Move clumsily), TABLEDHOTE (64D: Meal with a set menu), NEARBEER (28D: Serving during Prohibition), and LEGATION (31D: Diplomatic office below an embassy). Definitely needed a couple crosses for those.

Overall, though, I enjoyed the fill, and the design of the puzzle was unusual, with those three strong diagonals in the center. And I liked the clueing - 66A: Potential dinner (PREY), 5A: Antismoking spots, e.g. (PSAS), 91A: Item smashed by the original Luddites (LOOM) (Awesome. We humans are so crazy.), 55D: Stable parents (SIRES), 59D: "The Great" and "The Terrible" (EPITHETS)... all good. For me, one of the only WARTs was that it started with WART. Yuck.

So I'll be off soon to Boswords, and if you're one of the 150 or so puzzlers, maybe I'll see you there. And if I don't see you, Good Luck solving!

- Horace

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Saturday, July 28, 2018, Natan Last, the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class and Andy Kravis


A fun puzzle today, centered on three very strong, stair-stepping answers: FASHIONPOLICE (32A: Ones who may dress down those dressing up?) (Great clue.); JUICECLEANSES (36A: Some detox diets); and GENDERSTUDIES (37A: Modern college major). Excellent. And off of the beginning and end of those we have JEOPARDY (36D: Show that once had an April Fool's Day episode hosted by Pat Sajak) (Boy, I wish I had seen that! In fact, I'd prefer to have him host the show every day. I might even start watching it again!), FUNSPONGE (32D: One who sucks the joy out of the room) (I've never heard this before, but I sure know a few...), ACADEMIES (11D: Places of learning) (fine), and DCCOMICS (12D: Distributor of Penguin classics?) (very nice). That's a pretty solid skeleton.


The corners are wide open, and they tend a little toward "ballast fill" at times, with ECCE, ODON, ETTU, and NAOH, but none of that bothers me too much. The biggest stretch for me was RHEE (53A: Onetime Korean statesman Syngman), but perhaps others will have heard of and remember the name.

I liked the cluing today quite a bit. How about 18D: "Nigerian prince," often (PHISHER). Hah! And 9D: She convinced George to switch to five-pointed stars, in American legend (BETSY) gives a nice little bit of trivia. See also: 46D: River crossed in 1945's Operation Plunder (RHINE). My last letter was the I of HINES (21A: Cheryl of "Curb Your Enthusiasm"). I didn't know the name (never watched the show), and WWIIEPICS took quite a while to come clear to me. I'm just glad it finally did!

These J.A.S.A. puzzles are frequently quite good. I wish I could make it to one of those classes sometime! For now, though, I'll settle for enjoying the product of others' work.

- Horace

Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday, July 27, 2018, Bruce Haight


A mini theme today of quotations from fictional men, PRINCECHARMING (30A: He might say "A day without you is like a day without sunshine") and CAPTAINOBVIOUS (35A: He might say "A day without sunshine is like, you know, night"). Which reminds me of a joke I heard somewhat recently - "Red sky in morning, sailors take warning. Black sky in morning, night."

And we have two more characters in symmetrical positions outside of the central two - LILABNER (17A: From which Sadie Hawkins dances come) and ETHELRED (53A: English king nicknamed "the Unready" (ooh, that hurts!)). Interesting commentary on that last one.

To Bruce Haight, though, today, I say YOUGOTME. I dropped in AMeN instead of AMON (20A: Egyptian deity), and failed to remark upon the PECeS river being incorrect. I also did not know FOER (49A: Jonathan Safran ____, "Everything Is Illuminated" author), and IONTV just would not come to me, so I flailed and ended with a mess of a puzzle. Not the greatest way to go into a weekend containing another puzzle tournament. That's right, I've registered for Boswords, and I am very much looking forward to it!

Nice oblique clue for HUE (27A: Outcry), which is pretty much straight from the French word meaning "cry out," (or "boo") huer. And kind of a tricky one for ICEBERG too (13D: A little one is called a calf). "Speech in the Bible" for ARAMAIC was a little too, too, if you ask me. I mean, I guess I get it, but it doesn't seem quite perfect.

There, was, though, a lot I liked. INPEN (46A: Permanently, say) took me a while, and I liked TRAGIC, PENANCE, UNEARTH, and, of course, DRINKUP. Which reminds me, it's Friday! May you all, if you do DRINKUP, act a little SILLIER, perhaps, but not do anything that would cause you to end up ABLUSH. :)

- Horace

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Thursday, July 26, 2018, Nate Cardin


For the first time ever, I put a rebus in on the very first clue I looked at, and it was (essentially) correct! I read "1D: A.T.M. necessity" and first thought "PIN," but looked and saw it was four letters... but then I thought "What the hell, it's Thursday, this could be it..." and dropped in PIN[number]. I'm not sure whether they would have allowed the word rebus, because a little while later, I got #CAKE, and I went back and changed to the symbol in 1D, but still... I was feeling my oats!


Interesting that the symbol has so many variant names and uses. I was not aware of its use in proof-reading to mean "space," but the clues at 27D and 48A could have called for nothing else. Also, the two names given in this puzzle - OCTO THORPE and HASH TAG - are the two most recent of all the names, it seems. The former being created (probably) in the 1960s (originally might have been "octotherp") by employees at Bell Labs as a joke, and the latter coming into common use at around the same time, possibly because it resembled cross-hatching. The Wikipedia article on what they call the "number sign" is pretty interesting. My favorite alternate name is "Capital 3," which is hilarious.

Anywho... I like that four different meanings are used here. And I also like plenty in the fill. MANCALA is a game I remember playing with Colum's younger daughter (although I didn't know the name of it until just now) when she was about five. She beat me every single time. I'm not kidding. And I wasn't just trying to lose because she was a cute little five-year-old. I don't play games and try to lose. Ask anyone.

REDACT (19A: Black out, in a way) is an excellent word, and it's an odd coincidence that it crosses MADLIB, an activity created through REDACTion. And who doesn't enjoy the mindless entertainment of a JUMBLE from time to time?

REFARM, EATER, and SIZERS were a bit of a NUISANCE, but a shiny AMULET and tumbling ACROBATS are enough to distract me, at least, from the lesser elements. Like SIMONES... yeesh. But CMON, it's a debut puzzle (!!), it's a cool idea, and I learned a lot today, so it's getting a big thumbs up from me.

- Horace

Wednesday, July 25, 2018, Emily Carroll


The NYTX seems to be getting a little COCKY lately, and today it FLIPPEDTHEBIRD! Shocking! Three bird names (heron, egret, and crane) are each found backwards in three theme answers. It's a nice find in the single POLTERGEISTS (27A: Things that go bump in the night), and GOLDENARCHES (47A: Iconic logo since 1962) is perfectly cromulent. PIANOREHEARSAL is a little ad hoc, but it's elevated by the excellent clue - (20A: Grand preparations?). Nice one. And I'll give extra bonus points for all three birds being long-necked waders.


There are two side-by-side nine-letter answers in the NE and SW that are worth mentioning - CHEAPSHOT (11D: Unsporting comment) is my favorite, and it's neighbor, KILLSTIME (12D: Twiddles one's thumbs) is, necessarily, thanks to The Phantom Tollbooth, my least favorite. ("It's bad enough wasting time without killing it.") In the opposite corner we have ERRORFREE and TABLELAMP. Not scintillating, perhaps, but not bad.

I slowed myself down considerably up top by guessing "mwah" for 15A: Word that might accompany an air kiss (CIAO), and refusing to let it go until absolutely forced. It didn't help matters that OATH and ARTS both fit in with the error. Another tricky spot was SALUD (23A: Comment after a sneeze), which I have never heard used in that way.

41A: Genus that includes geniuses (HOMO) was cute, as was the pairing of 68A: Circus site (TENT) and 69A: Circus sight (SEAL), but do circuses really travel with SEALs still? Did they ever? Anyway, I wouldn't know, having perhaps never been to an animal-based circus in my life. I have really only seen the "people doing amazing stunts" kind of circus.

I liked POSEUR (8D: Big phony), and 40D: Body of eau (LAC) was ok, but even this Francophile thought that SEPTS (7 7 7, in France) was going a bit too far.

Still, overall, it was fine.

- Horace

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tuesday, July 24, 2018, Jonathan M. Kaye


Quite the stunt today, to string Hs and Xs down the middle to form a letter-based DOUBLEHELIX. And I don't know about you Across Lite or iPad solvers, but when you solve on the NYTX Web site, the letters all connect and spin. Fancy!

The theme answers run both Across and Down, which I like, and include, in addition to the form mentioned above, HUMANBEINGS, CHROMOSOMES, and BIOCHEMICAL. Seems like a well-connected theme, if you ask me.


CHICO MARX was clued very well with "... actor who said 'You can't fool me, there ain't no Sanity Clause,'" and I like the look of TVWIFE (5D: Lucy Ricardo, to Ricky). Come to think of it, this must have a pretty high "Scrabble score," what with all the Xs. Well.. ok, I looked it up, and it's a 1.93, which puts it in the top 40, all-time. (I've got to donate to xwordinfo.com!)

Cute clues on IDEE (22D: Nice thought?) (the city, not the adjective), EONS (59D: They go to great lengths), and STRAW (17A: Addition to a soda, but not to a beer). Of course, straws are on the outs now - the places we go aren't putting them into anything anymore. Down with plastic! And speaking of - Frannie and I just started using shampoo that comes in a bar, like a bar of soap (instead of a plastic bottle) and so far we're loving it!

There's a little OLLAS, ODEA, NLRB (?), REHEEL, and DITS to overlook, but it's a pretty neat trick to have lined up 7-Down that way. Plus, it played a little harder than Tuesdays sometimes do, so I'm giving it a thumbs up!

- Horace

Monday, July 23, 2018

Monday, July 23, 2018, Todd Gross


An accelerated time progression today from MOMENT to YEAR, by way of common(ish) expressions all using the form "[noun] of the [time]." ORDERSOFTHEDAY (28A: Parliamentary agenda) isn't so common on this side of the briny, perhaps, but it seems to Google well enough. The Rock-OLA cross is obscure, but what else could _RDERSOFTHEDAY really be? The other three are all perfectly common. SPUROFTHEMOMENT is my favorite, because, well, I'm an impulsive person.


I thought the concept was a nice find (although I'd be surprised if something like it hasn't been done before), but still it's simple, understandable, and clever. Pretty much perfect for a Monday, no? I also enjoyed the clues 6A: Egyptian goddess with a repetitive name (ISIS) and 4D: Good listener? (EAR). Those showed a nice spirit. There were a few partials and scraps (INYOU, ESS, IER), but there was also high-quality fill like CRUSADER, INTHEORY, CONVEY, MYHERO, and FELONS.

I'd say it's a fine start to the week.

- Horace

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday, July 22, 2018, Patrick Merrell


First of all, I'm kind of surprised by the quotation mark usage in the online version of this puzzle. They have "Movie "M*A*S*H" "Up"", but shouldn't it be "Movie 'M*A*S*H' 'Up'" ? Who gave the STET command on that one?! (And for the record, I've put my punctuation outside of their quotations for clarity. Punctuation should normally go inside of quotation marks. Right?) And, really, did they even need those inner quotation marks at all?


Seems rather de trop, perhaps, to be quibbling about punctuation, but don't forget, Dear Reader, that it's my job. It's my raison d'ESSE. I'm a SLAVE to my own high IDEALS. I can't HELPMEself. IO it to U to sometimes lay it all OUTIE on the line, and risk coming off as an OGRE. But really, all IBEG for is that we remember the ALAMO and...

Wow. That both went on too long and too quickly went astray. Where was I?

The theme today uses one movie title as a clue, and two movie titles as the answer. And one can usually make some plausible reason for the three to be connected. The clue "44A: 'Silence of the Lambs' = ? (1946) and ? (1960)" is answered by NOTORIOUSPSYCHO, and the first film does contain the NOTORIOUSPSYCHO Hannibal Lecter. So that makes some sense. And "77A: 'Jurassic Park' = ? (1997) and ? (1975)" is answered by TITANICJAWS, which the raptors in the movie have.

Less clear to me, however, or at least less beautiful, are NETWORKFAME for "Anchorman," and TRAFFICTOYS for "Transformers." I'm not too SUR about those.

Overall, I SPOSE it's kind of a cute theme, and I shouldn't ACTSO FRANTIC all the time.

- Horace

Hi Horace!

I too found this theme to be less than ideal. I suppose the theme answers are meant to be in some way a reference to something in the movie of the clue. In that sense, my favorite is probably SUPERBADHAIR. I just didn't find these all that amusing, and thus, I feel that half the battle was lost before it even got started.

Meanwhile, OSCARNOD is better than "Oscar nom". I also liked AAAS crossing AARON. Otherwise it was mostly an easier than average Sunday puzzle

Hope the upcoming week is more promising than this!

- Colum

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saturday, July 21, 2018, Jason Flinn


I used to be a hater when it came to quad stack puzzles, but I've come to regard them with some fondness. I wouldn't go so far as to call them SEXY, mind you, but they have a certain charm.

This exemplar has a shocking 9 grid-spanning entries. As per usual, yours truly will now go on to rank them from favorite to least favorite. The first set have the most interest and feel organic.

1. STRINGORCHESTRA. You get the music, you get the silly clue, it's a winnah.
2. THERESNOIINTEAM. This probably would have gotten first place if this answer hadn't been used recently. I do like the clue ("Saw around the locker room?"). Hah!
3. REASONTOBELIEVE. I like the clue, and it stands on its own well.

The next set fit into the class of verb phrases.

4. ORDEREDALACARTE. I had no idea where this clue ("Picked individually") was going, so this was a nice aha moment.
5. TELLSITLIKEITIS. To be blunt, this answer fell in the middle of the pack.
6. GOESOVERITAGAIN. To be redundant, this answer fell just below the middle of the pack.
7. SUITEDONESNEEDS. Definitely the lowest in this group, due to that awful "one's".

And the last group, the just sort of uninteresting answer that has gotten into a grid because it's 15 letters long.

8. OLDERGENERATION. Yeah, I just don't see myself saying that much.
9. PEERASSESSMENTS. Yuck. It's a great answer for the bottom of the grid with all of those Es and Ss, but beyond that...

I'm pretty impressed by the lack of guck in the top part of the grid. IRES and ENCAGE are pretty bad, but I love GSEVEN, HIATUS, and STOGY. Meanwhile, in the bottom of the grid, the only entries I looked askance at were SORA and ELAM. Not too many STINKERS if you ask me!

So over all, a thumbs up today.

- Colum

Friday, July 20, 2018

Friday, July 20, 2018, Robyn Weintraub

11:30 (FWOE)

With another outstanding themeless, Ms. Weintraub is INRAREFORM. I found very little to PRESS her on.

My error came at 18A: Analagous (AKIN). I tried AsIN, which in my support, is often found in an analogy. But the excellent 12D: Place where lots of calls are made (POKERTABLE) finally put me right. I love that clue for its distinct and clear absence of a question mark.

Other clues of note include 37A: What can get batters out? (SPATULAS) - didn't fool me for a minute, although I did think of "ScraperS" first. Also, I liked 31A: One might be by the water cooler (WORKMATE). And also 39D: Knocks loudly? (BERATES). Some fine work there.

The triple stacks in the NW and SE corners are both very good. Starting with BARBIEDOLL above AVERAGEJOE and 17A: It gets you what you need (LIVINGWAGE), I love the contrasts in gender and presumed socioeconomic status. The other triple is not as strong, but I do like ROLLERRINK.

The more I review this puzzle, the more I find to enjoy. I'll leave you with one last outstanding clue and answer. 50D: A cameo may have one (LINE). As in one single line. That's brilliance, my fine readers.

UPNEXT? Well, whoever it is has tough shoes to fill.

- Colum

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thursday, July 19, 2018, Mike Knobler


Today's SECRETCODE is a straightforward Caesar cipher with a shift backward of one (NEXTPLEASE) from code text to uncoded text. Except that in each case, the coded word is a word as well!

There are six examples of this little trick scattered throughout the grid. IBM for "hal" is a well known bit of code, as it was used in 2001: A Space Odyssey to come up with the supercomputer's name. However, I'm impressed by 24A: *Crafts site (FUTZ = "etsy") and 36A: Contemptuous smile (TOFFS = "sneer"). While UBOLT as code for "tanks" is a nice shift, I'm not fond of the actual answer.

The puzzle has some very nice long answers as well, not the least of which is BLOODYMARY. Which really ought to have something more than vodka and tomato juice. Isn't there some tabasco and celery involved? Oh, and Worcestershire sauce! Not that I've ever been much of a fan, myself.

I also enjoyed seeing YATITTLE in there, in all his titillating full named glory. He may be well dated by now, but he lives on in Giants lore and crossword history.

Not to cause STRIFE, but I hear the new Mamma Mia sequel could do with a little more STREEP. I think it's a must miss for me.

Anyway, that's enough from me. You won't hear another PEEP.

- Dpmvn (it doesn't have the same ring, does it?)

P.S. (I guess this is another peep) - it's a debut puzzle! Congrats, Mr. Knobler!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wednesday, July 18, 2018, David Steinberg


Scattered around this 15 x 15 DIGSITE are multiple F[OS]SILS, which, when taken together, spell out [TY][RA][NN][OS][AU][RU][SR][EX]. What, a rebus puzzle on a Wednesday? What is the world coming to?

I was happy with it, let me tell you! I got the [RA] first. Even once I got the first rebus and the revealer, I still didn't get what it was spelling out until the very end, because I thought each fragment would represent its own species. It's a pretty SHOWY piece of work. You can even imagine that the outline of the fragments makes a T. Rex's tooth or claw. It's also really nice how the two middle revealers cross each other.

I suppose there's such a thing as OPE[NN]OTE tests. For me they were always known as "open book," but times may have changed. The young'uns don't know from books, you know. It's all online now. GYMBU[NN]IES is also much nicer than "gym rats." Is there a gender difference?

Speaking of gender specific terms, the intersection of THEM and HER was amusing. Is this a wink at those of us who are displeased by the use of a plural pronoun to refer to a singular person? I suppose if we're going this direction, I'd prefer to use xe/xem/xyr. Note the X is pronounced as a Z.

I really liked 35D: Mole (BE[AU]TYMARK) for the wide open clue. I was thinking the animal, the term for an undercover spy, before I ever came around to the dermatologic term.

In any case, I say SHEESH to the beauty of the construction, and enjoyed the solve, so overall pretty hearty thumbs up.

- Colum

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Tuesay, June 12, 2018, Tracy Gray and Samuel A. Donaldson

Tuesday, July 17, 2018, Amanda Chung and Karl Ni


Did you pass this test with FLYING / COLORS?

I love this theme. Four outstanding examples of things that fly with colors in their names, four different colors, and a great revealer. I love that GOLDENSNITCH and GREENLANTERN have the same number of letters in their names. What a great find. The only downside is that putting in six theme answers (the revealer being split into two entries) forced the constructors into a severe segmentation of the grid into essentially two barely connected halves. But that's fine for a Tuesday, I think.

I'm getting soft in my old age.

We've certainly been known to take a NONDAIRY in this household, although a lovely aged gouda is always welcome. Almost as good as CATNIP to a Tabby, you might say. I also enjoyed the word SCUFFS, although I prefer it as a verb to a plural noun.

I feel certain that certain readers might have preferred a different clue at 9D: Military raider (COMMANDO). But really, who wants to think about that sort of thing? Especially if it's in the MENS department.

Too soon?
Curse you, REDBARON!
I didn't love ASDOI (I put ASamI in first), and ALII is not wonderful. But I really was happy to be reminded of ENID Blyton, author of so many excellent children's books, including The Secret Island. Although I find in my mind I was confusing her with E. Nesbit, who wrote more books that I loved, namely Five Children and It and The Railway Children. Anyway, British female authors of a certain age, am I right, ladies?


In the same line of misreading, I find that I've misread the clue for 59D: Family title with two pronunciations (AUNT). I thought it said contractions, which is really weird. And so I went down a Google rabbit hole looking for how there might be contractions in the word "aunt".


Anyway, it turns out it comes from the Latin "amita," meaning "father's sister." And there you have it.

- Colum

Monday, July 16, 2018

Monday, July 16, 2018, Erik Agard


Monday rolls around and I have the pleasure of writing the blog even as my lower lip regains feeling after getting a filling replaced. That's always fun. #POOP. But what's actually fun (irony dropped) is doing the NYT crossword puzzle. So #SWAG.

Did you see COCO? I thought it was a very nice movie, but not at the level of, say, Inside Out, or Wall-E. Today's grid comes up with four two word phrases where each word begins with CO-. I am newly introduced today to COMECORRECT, which according to Wiktionary, first made its appearance in Vibe in 1999. That's a long time ago, for "modern parlance," but I'll assume it didn't make its way into the wider conversation for some years. I'll support the idea of approaching people with respect and truthfulness. God knows we need it in today's society. #AMEN.

I thought perhaps 27D: Amts. of blood (CCS) was going to be the revealer, but that would not have represented much of a challenge. #EGO.

Does 11D: Place to see the town while painting the town red? (ROOFTOPBAR) need a question mark? It seems pretty straightforward to me as a clue. There's no pun involved. C.f. 15A: What a fisherman might bring home even if he doesn't catch any fish (TALE). See? There's no question mark there, and none needed. Arguments welcome in the comments section, but only if you come correct. #SIR.

No major complaints today, though. III is a bit of a crutch, but I like SELFCARE and PILEITON. And that's about what I have for today. #IMOUT.

- Colum

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday, July 15, 2018, Sam Ezersky and Byron Waldon


Hello everyone! It feels like it's been AMINOR age since I last wrote one of these. Before I can get into any discussion of the theme or other noteworthy of this Sunday effort, I think we have to answer the question on everybody's mind.

What the heck are JARTS?

So apparently, they're just lawn darts, and they were banned in the 1980s after one too many child related injury from the things. So kind of a down note. Fortunately, I knew that 77D: Lightsaber wielder could only be JEDI, so there was just a brief period of hesitation before putting that last letter in.
In my mind's eye, I was actually picturing the boss from the Jetsons
I'd term today's theme a workmanlike example of taking standard phrases and repurposing them in silly ways. In this puzzle, they're all reworked as compliments to various occupations. None of them made me laugh outright, but my favorite is probably 103A: Compliment to a vegetable gardener? (SMASHINGPUMPKINS), first because of the use of the word "smashing" to be a positive, and second because the band's name refers to doing the exact opposite of what a gardener wishes to accomplish.

Otherwise, the puzzle is chockablock full of nice longer answers. PASTICCIO is excellent, and I'd like some the next time I go to an Italian restaurant. Nobody doesn't like TIMELORDS. Clues I liked included 56A: Water cooler? (BRIG) and 97A: Long lines? (EPICPOEMS).

I'm not sure if Frannie will add her two cents in at this point, but if she doesn't, well, SONOFA...

- Colum

Fair game today with a fun theme in which we get phrases that work as compliments for specific categories of person who excel at their craft and as common items that have nothing to do with the craft in question. So a lawmaker gets a shout out for "OUTSTANDINGBILLS" and a charity organizer gets a "SOLIDFOUNDATION," maybe accompanied by a fist bump. : )  My favorite, for its naturalness, and one I might actually say to a champion speller, is "KILLERBEE." Ha! SWEETTALK, for a lecturer) is also good. I enjoyed SMASHINGPUMPKINS for a vegetable gardener, but I think the clue should have specified a *British* vegetable gardener.

In other areas, I liked SONOFA, MRSLATE (way to rock a name theme, creators of "The Flintstones"!), RIDESOUT, PODUNK, TRIDENT, NATTIER, and, of course, the shout out to New England's word for milkshake FRAPPE. Mmmmm, frappe...

I was surprised to see ASHE and ASHEN right next to each other in the grid. I entered "ashen" first, but took it out after I figured out that the "Athlete honored on Richmond's Monument Avenue" was Ashe, only to put it back in after a few more downs supported it.

Who knew there was AMSTEREO? Not me. Perhaps it will come as no surprise, then, that I recently asked Horace if there were still radio broadcasts. SAD.

The clue and answer "Got back at" (AVENGED) struck a chord. It may just be the movies and TV shows I've been watching recently, but it seems like many of them focus on one character's need to avenge some wrong done to him or her. There's always a scene where the person says, "I'll make X pay for what s/he did to my person." And then violence ensues. It troubles me. There, I said it. Also, isn't it time to let go of the old stereotype of HUSHING in libraries?

~ Frannie.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Saturday, July 14, 2018, Kameron Austin Collins


Today's puzzle takes us on a spin around an attractive pinwheel shaped grid, which makes space for some nice long downs. I particularly liked STEELCAGE, CANDYCOAT, and CRUNK - the latter is, of course, not so long, but it sure is a great term. I also appreciate the word GERMANE, but my spelling of it went AMUCK, costing me a couple minutes. Once I made the correction, though, I quite enjoyed "Things drawn by eccentric people" (STARES). Ha! We've all been there.

As chance would have it, I recently acquired the Paul Gallico novel "Mrs. 'ARRIS goes to Paris" from my grandmother's book collection. It turns out there are several Mrs. 'Arris adventures in which she travels to New York and London. She also goes to Amsterdam's red light district - but that, of course, was never published.

Does anyone else think there might be a mini theme including BEERNUTS, MOXIE, KUSH, and other GAMETES? Too much?

I wanted MORALCompass instead of MORALCENTER, but the grid would not allow it. Also, I don't take a STROBELIGHT. My preferred "Party flasher" is of another kind altogether. OHBABY! :)

Like yesterday, I thought this puzzle REPAID on the easy side, but that was lucky for me because things are ORNATE around here today and I have got to ENCASE.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday, July 13, 2018, Trenton Charlson


A puzzle with a little pop today: musical group ZZTOP. Each of the three answers across the top of the grid contains a double Z (RAZZ, PIZZA, FIZZ). Pleasantly, there are also three members of the band. And, if the Wikipedia is to be believed, all three men have been with the band since its start in 1969 - a different kind of pops!

I was able to drop in 1D in off the clue (Apocalyptic event predicted in Norse mythology) because Horace and I just saw Thor: RAGNAROK. Thanks, Netflix. I guessed OREO for "Dirt pie ingredient" even though I've never heard of it; it just seemed apt. I enjoyed the clue "What old records and happy-go-lucky people may do" (SKIP). 

Other WORTHY entries:
NIMRODS - I love that word, even pluralized.
POPDIVA - my dream job.
ZEROESIN - looks a little WEIRDO, non?

If someone had asked me, as I was solving the puzzle today, HOWGOESIT? I would have replied, "a little on the easy side." I'm not usually under 30 minutes, never mind 20 minutes on a Friday. It usually takes me a lot longer to get INUIT.


We're heading into the weekend with the HOTS, EROS, and SEXPOTS. BING!


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Thursday, July 12, 2018, Joe DiPietro

50:31 FWOE

Figuring out this puzzle's trick did not come easily! I failed to see DEF[ORE]ST for the trees. Only when I had three of the four theme answers figured out and in place, did I begin to see the pattern. Trouble is, when I got to the fourth one, I stupidly focused on trying to make the same pattern work at 4D instead of at 3D where it belonged. HELLA derp. I had entered FORENSICS (Field of "CSI") very early on in the solve, before I knew there was a trick and I never looked at it again; I just kept trying to get into SHUL.

It took me some time to figure out what was meant by the revealer HANDSDOWN (Easily ... and a hint to four answers in this puzzle), even when I had it and two of the theme answers, which I first entered as rebi. Two examples were not enough to make me notice that LONG  (EVAL[ONG]ORIA) and SURE (TREAS[URE]MAP) can both be paired with the word HAND and that they went DOWN the grid while the rest of the answer kept going across. Nice trick. I needed a third theme answer to see the pattern, but I was in a real pickle in the 29A/D-al area because I didn't know either "Pro wrestling star John" (CENA) or "'Wisest and justest of all the centaurs'" in Greek myth (CHIRON). I did eventually remember SEAHAG (One of Popeye's foes), which lead me to AVE (where I had originally entered rte), which helped me finally see ENVI[ROn]S. Phew! My only TEENY quibble is that it's too bad the across answers couldn't still be words on their own.

I had a few other trouble spots. I tried spelling tada with an "h" (tadah) to get it to fit at 23D ("Voilà") where THERE belongs. I'm also still not sure in/on which kind of court you find an ESTOP. Law, basketball, other? And are ATODDS and ATLAW synonyms? :)

I liked SPANG for "Smack-dab". I haven't heard that in years. We usually said spang on. ELCHEAPOS is a nice entry. I liked FORENSICS at first, but my feelings changed a bit on that one after the above-releated fiasco. CENSURE is also a great word, although less good as an actual experience. I also liked KEYIN (Record as data), although, personally, I prefer extracting data to keying it in whenever possible, but sometimes one has no choice. Also, this sure is the week for self-referential clues! I feel like I've got their number now, though four days in. I entered ESS (Self starter?) at 40A like a champ. "Capital of Colombia" (PESO) didn't fool me today, either. "Go downhill in a hurry?" for (SKI) was also cute.
DEWAR Flask photo: LepoRello (Wikipedia)
The very simple clue "Beep" had me confounded for a while, maybe because I've never taken a PAGE. And what's with this sea of AZOV? It sounds like a place out of The Phantom Tollbooth, except I know it isn't. :)

And last, but not least, yesterday's final down answer was WET (Dampen) and today's was DRY (Having less vermouth than the norm). Fun! 


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018, Michael Hawkins


It is a truth universally acknowledged that no matter what ONETIME you set your alarm for, it always goes off too SOON. But today's puzzle celebrates the quiet hero of this tale: the SNOOZEBUTTON. When hit just right, it can result in one or more of the other dreamed of theme answers (RADIOSILENCE, BUZZKILL, SOUNDOFF) securing a few more minutes of precious sleep. I always think I get the ten best of my forty winks in the few minutes between alarm blasts.

Despite the sleepy theme, I felt young and alive when I was able to drop in GHOSTED right out of the gate (Suddenly stopped communicating with, in modern lingo). Even more so when I got to BOUNCE (Leave, slangily), and HOTYOGA. #wattba!

Aptly, BABE (in arms) and OVUM appear next to each other, although perhaps, following a strict chronology, ovum should appear first. It might be fun to try to make a word ladder from ovum to baby. I'll get to work on that but it may take me awhile. Check back in 40 weeks or so.

Also OFNOTE was the excellent clue "Six for dinner?" calling for the self-referential answer WORDLENGTH. And yes, dear readers, I was fooled again. OYE.



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tuesday, July 10, 2018, Alex Eaton-Salners


It's an Alphabet - Poker crossover event! The theme answers display, within the circled letters, the alpha equivalent of FULLHOUSE poker hands. I'm going with GRASSSEED for the win, as the S's are the "highest" in the alphabet. On the other hand, Scrabble-tile-wise, THREEEGGOMELET has the greatest point value (7 versus 5). I guess it's an OPENDEBATE.

Once again, I was  duped by a self-referential clue, in this case,"Lots of fluff?" (EFFS). They get me every time. I thought this one was a pretty good exemplar of the genre. "Pictures created with needles, informally" (TATS) was nice twist on an old chestnut and "Throws on the floor?" (AREARUGS) was very clever, but today's ace in the hole has to be "Lip or cheek" (SASS) - ha!

Some of the fill also URNS praise:
SERAPHIC - you don't see that everyday, unfortunately. 😥
OOLONG - a nice product and a good looking word.
SLEUTH - nothing says Nancy Drew like this word. Am I right?
EXCORIATED - a personal favorite.


There were a couple of wild cards in the pack. I thought the clue/answer pairs "Startle" (ALARM) and "Ambience" (AURA) weren't perfect matches, but IBEX others will call me on that.


Monday, July 9, 2018

Monday, July 9, 2018, John Lampkin


The object of today's exercise was to figure out what kind of workout one might get at various locales. At a dairy farm, it was CHEESECURLS, at a cutlery store it was FORKLIFTS, and at a candy store, PEPPERMINTTWIST. The appeal of an exercise regimen of this type is easy to see, but Mr. Lampkin himself seems dubious about the value of the program, DEEMing it, in the revealer, DIDDLYSQUAT. Perhaps he thinks that the APOGEE of keeping fit involves SWEATS. I, for one, prefer a WINEPRESS to anything that might cause a pain in DECAF, which is probably why I haven't seen a WANE in my POT AREA of late.

The puzzle offers some fine seasonal fill with beach destinations OAHU and TRURO where one might take a DIP or go INDEEP, a reference to everyone's favorite campfire treat the SMORE, and the appearance, for the third time in four days, of TAN. Even if that's not a record, it has to leave some kind of mark.


Other fill that gave me a lift includes SPOOFS, POINTA, and STIRRER. I did experience a slight cramp at 29A: "Clip as a coupon" where I entered cutout in place of DETACH. EARP.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday, July 8, 2018, Bruce Haight


The title today, "Person / Place / Thing," describes a sort of a Wheel of Fortune "before and after" type thing, but more structured. I was slightly shocked to find such things as a "head shop" and a "pole dance," but, well, they are things, so I can't complain. And really, all kidding aside, there's nothing wrong with any of them. Rich Little has been forgotten more than Mae West, I think, but both are probably still within the ken of most NYT solvers. (I'm guessing we're a slightly older bunch.)


And being slightly older, I love the word WHATNOT (66A: Related stuff). I've also seen an ALPE (83A: Suisse peak) in person, I know singles with EXES, and I also remember Scott BAIO.

I liked seeing the word "24D: Plenish" for EQUIP. It's always fun to see a word without its common prefix. When I first started doing these, I learned that the word "reiterate" is, itself, redundant, and "iterate" is quite enough. And just today in a New Yorker article, I read about a "relict" population. Fun word, but sad article. Anywho...

3D: Take a few pointers? (DOGNAP) was amusing, as was the Wilde quote "Nothing succeeds like EXCESS." I had lEiA at 22A for a while (Princess with superpowers) (XENA), so that took some undoing. ONLYTOO (17D: Quite, despite expectations), too, was difficult to parse, and really, my comprehension of that one is only liminal. And I also liked HELLO (39D: "That's pretty obvious!"). I almost think Frannie and I talked with Mr. Haight about our imagined dialogue using only that one word, inflected in different ways. If we didn't, I'm sure we will the next time we see him. (Hi Bruce!)

And speaking of Mr. Haight, I wondered, when I got to 47D: 1960s Haight-Ashbury wear (TIEDYE), if he has a bunch of San Francisco-related clues in his database so he can reference that street as often as possible. :)

And one last thing - I know Mr. Haight likes it when puzzle reviews are published promptly, so without further ado, I'll get this posted. Frannie will write more later, though, so if you don't see anything yet by her, you'll still have something to look forward to once you've gotten to this point in my review!

It's been a fun week. I'll be back in a few, and until then, Happy Puzzling!

- Horace

Horace has already highlighted many of my favorite entries. I also delighted in WHATNOT, Plenish/EQUIP, HELLO, and the Wilde quote - so true. I also loved the clue "Father of octuplets on 'The Simpsons'" in part because APU is such a great character, but also because that's a great episode. Here's one quote from it:  "And the outpouring of support has been so lucrative.  ... the good folks at SONY - mwah - their giant TV will really help us love our babies." Apt!

I also enjoyed "Words mouthed on a Jumbotron" (HIMOM), "Stand-alone business" (KIOSK), and "High wind" (OBOE) - ha! I got the answer to "Try this!" (CASE) by way of other answers, but it took me a few to figure out why it *was* the answer. When it did RES in, I LOL'd. Same with DOGNAP, mentioned above. To sum up, what I like about this puzzle in general is that many of the clues put a nice twist in the clue/answer pairs so they take a little minute to figure out, but when you do figure it out, you're like, "oh yeah!" instead of like "wow, really?" It makes solving the puzzle fun. There, I said it.

Along with the ECLAT of the clues, there was all MANNER of fine fill including APOP, COOPT, ALLLEGS, STOKE, and my favorite of the day, NIBLET.

It is possible that I have not yet watched enough World Cup games,  but I still have yet to hear anyone actually say or yell, "OLE". #stillwaiting.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Saturday, July 7, 2018, Ryan McCarty

0:16:11 (F.W.O.E.)

Boy, I almost made it through the week error free, and I actually changed the letter in question today from correct to incorrect. Gah! I had PHENOLS (37D: Chemical compounds in so-called hospital smell) fairly early, but then when I saw that "50A: Individual's unique use of language" ended with "LECT," I immediately "corrected" to an A so that I could put in "_DIALECT." And then, when I guessed at ASIAM for the Alicia Keys album, I thought to myself "sure, 'I-dialect" sounds plausible..." Funny, now, in retrospect, that I should have trusted my faint and fading chemistry knowledge over my language skills. In my defense, "I-dialect," were it to actually be a word, would be pretty much the same thing as an "ideo-lect."
Ah, well... a small blot on my record that did little to dampen my enjoyment of this puzzle. That it should begin with ABLARE is unfortunate, but the TWINKLE starts in the very next answer, and really gets going off of that with THATSSONOTOK (7D: "Absolutely unacceptable), and KOOKS. In the middle, we've got the old-school, but still amusing WACKYTOBACKY (19D: Mary Jane), and two grid-spanners: LITTLEKNOWNFACT and KEEPSITTOGETHER, both strong. I love all the strange-looking letter strings formed in the multiple-word answers - "TSSO," TTOG," "LEKN," "LKTO," ... Everywhere you look there's weirdness. See also: DANKMEMES (48A: Internet in-jokes that have gone viral, in modern lingo.)

There are a few downers here and there (I'm looking at you, JAMESWATT and SHALEOIL), but overall, this was a really fun Saturday. Great close to the Turn, as we like to call the Thursday/Friday/Saturday puzzles collectively. Now it's on to Sunday, whence, I believe, you'll be treated to another week of reviews by Frannie. If she were reviewing today, she might have written out for you the entire copy text of the old TV spots that used to advertise ITT Technical School. Who knew it was now defunct? Oh well, perhaps there will be other chances for her to let loose her pop-culture Tourettes.

Bye for now!

- Horace

Friday, July 6, 2018

Friday, July 6, 2018, Robyn Weintraub


Lovely start today with CLEOPATRA (1A: Ruler who died in 30 B.C.) (no B.C.E., NYT?). If only she, Caesar, Pompey, and Ptolemy could have arranged to somehow MEETINTHEMIDDLE, maybe there wouldn't have been so many deaths. JUSTKIDDING, they loved to wear ARMOR and kill each other back then. Ever since the time of HERA, "murderer" has been one of the main VOCATIONS. Just like it is today - except it's TRENDIER to say "soldier." ...


Boy, that went south fast. Let's all just take a drink from the LETHE and fall back ASLEEP. No need to TIRE oneself out being a Nervous NELLY all the time about the CHASMS in REASONING between humans. Here I was, trying to say something nice about the puzzle, and all of a sudden I'm pontificating. Kind of KILLS the mood. What I need is more SWEETTALK.

Favorite clue today - 51D: Decrease? (IRON). Yes. More like this.

I also very much enjoyed UMPTEENTH (61A: Sizable ordinal), which reminds me of my mother, who was wont to use that word. (And who would be disappointed with my vitriol above.) SCATTERSHOT (22D: Lacking focus) is quality, and SIDLE and CREPT made a nice pair.

Overall, I did enjoy this one - and the appropriateness of the two 15-letter clues - but it went a bit fast for a Friday.

- Horace

p.s. I almost forgot! I was going to complain about NOB (42A: One of the jacks in cribbage). It's not just one of the jacks, it's any jack that matches the card turned up in the cut, and it's always "His Nobs," or "Nobs," not just a NOB. Sheesh!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Thursday, July 5, 2018, Randolph Ross


I love the spin that the N.Y.T. is putting on the national celebration this week. On Tuesday, we got the ethnic melting pot of answers, then on Independence Day, we got four fourths not specifically related to America (well, except for the Bible, I guess...), and today we get rebuses of American governmental agencies that WIRETAP. LOL.


Bonus thematic fill might include OILMAN, MABELL, THEMOST, MARCIACLARK (America at its best, the O.J. trial), SNEERY, YANK, WMD, and TRASH.

On the un-American side we've got BELGIAN, the Middle-Eastern duo of ARABIA, and ALIBABA, KENYA, HORS, CARTA, BAYO[FBI]SCAY, and AMORE. Certainly not American, that last.

On the bright side, we see ALBEIT for the second day in a row. Strange. And I enjoyed the clues for LIL (26A: Wee wee?) (Took a while!), ILLLIVE (12D: "It doesn't hurt that bad"), DEER (58A: A couple of bucks?), AMEN (52D: Grace period?) (Nice), DEN (35D: Animal house), and even ANS (59A: T or F, frequently: Abbr.). It took me forever to understand ONEALL (19A: Low draw) as a low-scoring tie game. I should have known better during World Cup season!

I love AMY (23D: Frank Loesser's "Once in Love With ____"), but my favorite clue today was 31A: This pulls a bit (REIN). That's really very good.

Lively, entertaining clues and a rebus. Pretty much a perfect Thursday.

- Horace

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wednesday, July 4, 2018, Freddie Cheng


Appropriate, maybe, that the first clue today should mention tea (1A: Indian state that exports tea (ASSAM)), because ... well, you know why. Although the tea dumped in 1773 by the Sons of Liberty was from China, not India. Still, ...

Also appropriate for the date is today's revealer, HAPPYFOURTH. The other four (also appropriate) theme answers each provide, in their last word, the fourth in a series. Numbers being the fourth book in the Bible, Time being the fourth dimension, Delta the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet, and Mars the fourth planet from our Sun. Pleasing. The only thing I find odd about it is the "Annual greeting" part. When did that start? I don't say it isn't true, because earlier today, as Frannie and I walked along the beach at low tide, people actually said this to us when passing. "Happy Fourth." Is this a new thing? I don't really remember it from my youth. But then, there are many such things.

In addition to the theme, I liked much in the fill today: PSHAW (22A: "Oh, hogwash!") and OODLES (44A: Gobs) are excellent. LOPED (55A: Ran gracefully), and ALBEIT (32A: Notwithstanding) are enjoyably unusual. CREAM clued as "Destroy, as an opponent" got a chuckle. And how many of you tried to make a three-letter abbreviation for "size" when confronted with 59A: Small, medium or large: Abbr. (ADJ)? I sure did.

The two "father/son" (LENNON/LEE) clues were nice, and "19A: Blue expanse" could have been sky or SEA, so that caused a little slowdown. Also slowing me down (this seemed tough for a Wednesday) was spelling SABER with an "re" instead of an "er." And cluing COB with a male swan instead of a Fourth of July staple was shocking!

ISPY lots to like today. I hope you're having a pleasant holiday.

- Horace

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tuesday, July 3, 2018, Christopher Adams


A little red, white, and blue folded into the NATIONALPASTIME to celebrate the nation's birthday. I like all three cities, but I can't help but note that one of them isn't actually in the good ol' U. S. of A. In fact, there's kind of a "Melting Pot" vibe to the whole puzzle, what with ECLAT, ENERO, RAGU, GREEK, OLE, PEDRO, ARP, and PERES. Kind of an international OLIO, if you will. And should we throw in EXPOS (31D: Montreal nine, once)? And EDEN?


There are quite a few baseball-related entries in the fill, like SLIDE, MINOR (27D: ____ leagues), the aforementioned PEDRO, who played for the EXPOS, EJECTED, LOFT(ed one into the outfield), TEES (up on one) ... hmmm ... it seemed like more while I was solving. And I won't even mention 65A, as I take it as a direct assault on all BOSTON REDSOX fans. Or at least those "of a certain age." I held my little red Radio Shack transistor all the way around my route as I delivered the Evening Gazette, only to hear Yaz pop out to end it. GROAN. Why, even in my "post-sports" life, do I still wish things had gone differently back then?

Love CAUSTIC, UPTAKE, ERMINE, ECLAT, and GOODEGG. That's some good bonus material on a Tuesday. And my last square was the E of ISSARAE. The name is completely unknown to me, but I finally figured out EARL (53D: Title below marquess). And you know what? I think I'd take the demotion to get the better title.

Decent Tuesday. Will there be fireworks tomorrow? Stay tuned!

- Horace

p.s. Another debut puzzle today! Congratulations, Mr. Adams.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Monday, July 2, 2018, Evan Kalish


Shh... ITSASECRET. Well, it would have been, had they left out the circles. Or the revealer, I guess. :) But luckily, we have both, and we are able to see that hidden between two words in each long answer are secret things. At first, since the word secret is kind of implied in "stash," I did not realize that the word "secret" could be added to every circled word (or, "word made by the circled letters," as I'm sure the NYT would have it ...), and I thought, "Well, yeah, I guess that grown-ups are supposed to keep the true identity of Santa a secret from young children ...," but then with "agent," I realized what was going on. And finally, when I got to "menu" I was a little unsure again, because I'm not sure that I'm all that familiar with secret menus. Perhaps my very unawares-ness of them proves their existence? Is that possible? (No.)

A couple of spots that could have gone different ways - SNAPAT (5D: Get testy with) could have been snip at, and I actually had "roam" in for ROVE (50D: Wander about) for a while, but luckily noticed before the end.

I'm sure that frequent commenter, Huygens, will enjoy the inclusion of PRIMENUMBER, and I always enjoy the appearance of Latin in a grid, especially when it's unabbreviated, i.e. IDEST. I'm also a big fan of NOGS, but this isn't really the season. And speaking of seasons, I thought GAVEL was a little too soon. Sigh.

<rant>Lastly, I'll add that it's been nearly a full ten years during which I have not taken a single BAG at a grocery store. It's not just the eco-conscious who should be doing this, it's everyone. The answer to paper or plastic is always "Neither."</rant> (See what I did there?)

 A ROSY debut for Mr. Kalish, and a fine start to the week.

- Horace

Sunday, July 1, 2018, Sam Trabucco


I love that moment when a puzzle clicks. The revealer reveals itself, and title suddenly makes perfect sense. I had that today, and aside from a touch of P.T.S.D. from Puzzle Four of this year's A.C.P.T., I very much enjoyed this one.


For the themers, if we want the clues to work, we need to "drive around" the unclued, circled, automobiles by moving left, into the PASSINGLANE, and then back. The answers with the cars still make sense, but they are unclued. As in "23A: Trying to show no signs of life." The clued answer is PLAYING/DEA/D, and the unclued answer is PLAYING(CAR)D.

Obviously, when "passing," one must use some of the letters from the answer above, and it's never just using a word from a two-word phrase, it's letters out of the middle, or from two consecutive words. Very nicely done.

The fill was fun, too, with strong entries like FIASCO (5A: Total mess), SPOILER (36A: "Darth Vader is Luke's father," e.g.), ZEROSUM (67D: Like a game with equal winners and losers), and GETLIT (116A: Go on a drinking spree, in slang).

LACUNAR (55A: Relating to gaps) begs a bit of reviewer lenience, as does TRUTHSERA (74A: Confession inducers), and WIVE (71A: Take as a bride) is borderline at best, but there was a lot to encourage generosity. COLDDAY (26A: Metaphorical time in hell) got a chuckle, as did STAGEDOOR (24A: Show out?). And I took ICANSEETHAT (113A: "Yeah, it makes sense") as a comment on the revealer, which sits just above it. Furthermore, EMETIC always reminds me of the Monty Python sketch that introduced me to that word: "Australian Table Wines."("... 'Chateau Chunder,' which is an appellation contrôllée specifically grown for those keen on regurgitation - a fine wine which really opens up the sluices at both ends. Real EMETIC fans will also go for a 'Hobart Muddy,'...")

Overall, I liked the tone of this one, and I liked the theme. Thumbs up.

- Horace

p.s. I really should have written this review during the Spain/Russia match. That was a snoozer, but this Denmark/Croatia match is non-stop action!