Sunday, August 5, 2018

Sunday, August 5, 2018, Alison Ohringer and Erik Agard



The circled letters in the puzzle, when read left-to-right and top-to-bottom spell PHANTOMS, which coordinates well with the title "Ghosted," but there is also the matter of the clue at 69A to address. It reads, "Like this puzzle's circled letters vis-à-vis their Across answers" (LOSTINTHESHUFFLE), which makes it seem like something else is going on that I didn't figure out. I'm counting on our esteemed co-blogger, Colum Amory, to explain this aspect of the puzzle. :)

I FWOED at 18D: "What it takes two to do." I entered DUEl even though HEARTRAlE didn't mean anything to me, but as the across was a question-mark clue, I thought maybe I just didn't get it. I did consider the correct answer, DUET /HEARTRATE, but the way the clue was worded, I rejected it. I thought two couldn't really "do" a duet, although I was fine, for some reason, with that same pair "doing" a duel. I may also have been influenced by the next door neighbor EPEE (One-on-one Olympics event).

I enjoyed the puzzle overall. Some clues I liked in particular:
Good name for a botanist? FLORA - I thought of Ferne initially, but this answer is also quite good.
Competitor of Rugby (ETON) - nice twist on an old chestnut.
Hell, informally (SAMHILL) - this is an old favorite from "It's a Wonderful Life" - "What the Sam Hill you yelling for, George?"
In spades (BUTGOOD) - excellent.
Two of diamonds? (SYLLABLES) - my old friend, the self-referential clue!
Friend of Descartes ... or, in English, question pondered by Descartes? (AMI) - Interesting clue.
Makes out? (TAGS) - tricksy.
Dummkopf (ASS) - both are good words.
Pricey-sounding apparel brand? (LACOSTE) - Ha!



  1. Well, I was just as lost (in the shuffle) as you were, Frannie. Turns out, each theme answer has two words: the first can be anagrammed into the second, if you leave out the "ghosted" letter. Thus, PARTYTRAY has the letters A-R-T-Y common between the first and second word, plus P. Very clever, but much too difficult to suss out in the process of solving the puzzle. My thanks to Jeff Chen for the explanation.

  2. Hmm, I guess there's no accounting for what people find easy, because the theme, although not instant, didn't take too long once I had the revealer and PARTYTRAY. That sort of revealer clue points to wordplay, "Shuffle" points to anagrams, and "lost" points to a letter which is omitted. I did briefly consider a theme in which the circled letter gets "lost" and picks up a letter from above or below, but it didn't really seem to match the revealer and I think it was based on c[h]eeseTRAY rather than PARTYTRAY and I had to cut the cheese because the crosses weren't working quite aside from any theme issue.

    Ended up finishing with one error on LAMAsE/FRAsIER. Pretty obvious in hindsight but neither is a household word for me, so I guess it isn't too shocking. Time was 50:20.