Sunday, September 30, 2018

Sunday, September 30, 2018, Natan Last

"Sleep on it"

A real sleeping beauty today! The theme gives the nod to the old Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "Prinsessen paa Ærten" which, according to the Wikipedia, can be literally translated to "The Princess on the Pea," which according to me, has been literally translated into this puzzle. It features the dream team of MATTRESS sizes embedded in longer answers: QUEENOFMEAN, FULLBODIED, TWINSISTER, and KINGSOLOMON. Each bed size has the word PEA - brilliantly lumped together in one square in rebus form - under it and a PRINCESS lying above them both (BELLE, LEIA, XENA, ANNE). Genius.

The puzzle is stuffed with other great material including
Flap (ADO) - Nice to see this old chestnut again. It's been too long.
Admiring words (IMAFAN)
Paroxysm (THROE) - both excellent words
Tippled (HADAFEW) - how about a variation for a future puzzle: drank a citrus flavored PepsiCo soda (hadadew)
Debunk? (Roust) - reminds me of my youth when I was in charge of getting my little sister up for school in the morning.
He might provide assistance after a crash (ITGUY)
Collapsed red giant? (USSR) - ha!
Parts of Mr. Clean and Lex Luthor costumes (BALDCAPS)
And my favorite on the day: "Discharged matter" (EGESTA). Wonderful.


The section that gave me nightmares was the middle south where too many unknowns lurked. "Home of the ancient Temple of Artemis" (EPHESUS), "Simba's father in a Disney musical" (MUFASA), "N.L. Central player (CUB), "Who wrote 'The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting'" (SUNTZU), New Left org. (SDS) - although I should have this one memorized by now! - and "'Skylarking'" band (XTC) all had me tossing and turning. I should have known SOS ("'Mamma Mia!' song that begins 'Where are those happy days?'") but I blanked on it.

Peas under my personal mattress might be EPIC as a match for "grandiose" and the partial spell out BARBQ (Backyard get-together, briefly) but in such a well-executed puzzle they are really nothing to lose sleep over.


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Saturday, September 29, 2018, David Steinberg


An odd grid shape today, with those four, thick corners and the sides connected by 14-letter answers. I like the water theme apparent in SEAMOSS (21A: Algae touted as a superfood), SNORKEL (22A: Equipment used with goggles), SPINNAKER (9D: Three-cornered sail). Appropriate, as Frannie and I just got out of the Atlantic Ocean minutes ago, where we were punished by ROGUE waves. Well, they weren't true ROGUE waves, but they sure were big! Oh, the PATHOS!

Doesn't DEARSIRORMADAM (16D: Formal opening) immediately make you think of "Paperback Writer?" Well, it does me.

I love the words NONCE (2D: Specific occasion) and COPSE (44D: Thicket), and YODEL and SPANK are fun up in the NE. BOTCH (48D: Screw up), ANOINT (42D; Formally choose), ECHELON (19A: Level), TANDOOR (55A: Indian restaurant fixture)... so much good material. Then you've got the fun conversational stuff like ISTHATALL (3D: Sassy response to a scolding), NOSHADE (14A: "Don't mean any disrespect," in modern lingo). Nice.

One last thing - it took me waaay too long to figure out CHIANTI (57A: Major Tuscan export). I had the "TI" at the end, but there were just more letters than I was expecting in front of that.

- Horace

Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday, September 28, 2018, Kameron Austin Collins


Mr. Collins' name is one I like to see associated with a puzzle. His grids are usually smooth, interesting, and challenging. Luckily, my being "of a certain age" helped me get off to a good start, because 1A: Suzanne Somers's role on "Three's Company" (CHRISSY) was like asking me "What's the color of the sky?" Off of that, however, I dropped in CHEMist for 1D: Place to get solutions, in brief (CHEMLAB), a mistake I like to think was the only reason I was slowed down at all on 30A: 2001 Destiny's Child #1 hit with the lyric "I don't think you ready for this jelly" (BOOTYLICIOUS).


That last, bold answer started off a very nice stair-stepping trio of 12-letter answers ending with TRUSTFUNDBABY (33A: Notoriously spoiled sport) and NORSEDEITIES (36: Figures in the Edda). A solid middle section crossed by RESCUEDOG (20D: Certain adopted pet)- a term that used to evoke a St. Bernard with a barrel around its neck, but now has come to mean a pound-adopted canine. Spay and neuter your pets, people! There are more than enough to go around already, and the fewer that end up in pounds in the first place, the better.

I was not familiar with the term HOECAKE (15A: Cornmeal treat), and I learn from a Slate article that one story has it that American slaves made them using a hoe as a griddle, but a more likely etymology is that griddles were known as "hoes" in parts of England in the 1600s. Whatever the origin, I will definitely be trying to make some soon. I also hadn't heard LUNULAR (16A: Crescent-shaped) much, but it makes sense as a diminutive of the Latin "luna."

Almost nothing to complain about today (maybe CCLASS or ORANGS), a lot of good fill, and a clue that I will add to our favorites list - 34D: Store that really should have a spokesperson (BIKESHOP). Guffawww! :)

I liked it a lot.

- Horace

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Thursday, September 27, 2018, Daniel Kantor


Today we have four entries clued by way of decorations within the puzzle itself. I will try to get myself a version of the actual paper so I can see how this looked in print, but on the web, it looked like this:

Not terribly scintillating as a theme, I don't think, but I guess they've got to keep trying new things.

Not much long material in the fill, but I liked SEALEGS (49A: Good standing in the Navy?), and referencing Whitman ("Song of MYSELF") is ok with me. I briefly had "cspan" instead of TOGAS for "16A: Coverage of the Senate?," and "9A: Zombie's domain" (SCIFI) also took me a while. Nice work on those clues. MISERY, too, got quite a clue - "Word that sounds like a state when accented on the second syllable rather than the first." Hah!

Interesting trivia on SEGA (36A: Brand name derived from the phrase "Service Games"), and 65A: Bean sprouts? (IDEAS) was cute. 9D: Card letters (STL) was tricky - that's the St. Louis Cardinals they're talking about - and 50D: Something you might kick after you pick it up (HABIT) was fun.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I liked bits of the fill better than I liked the theme itself. Sometimes that happens, and that's ok.

- Horace

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wednesday, September 26, 2018, Joel Fagliano and Melinda Gates


A fun theme today of doubling up the first initial of many famous things with an initial initial, and then cluing to make the doulbling make sense. Clear enough. We start with XXFACTOR (17A: Part played by women and girls?) which makes sense, I guess, because this puzzle is co-authored by Melinda Gates, the famous XX to Bill's XY. And, not coincidentally, it's a real thing started to help improve the lives of women and girls. The XX Factor.

Not being one who takes a lot of pills, I was only marginally aware of the B-Complex vitamins, so BBCOMPLEX (46A: Group of buildings housing a King?) did not come quickly. They're referencing the late blues guitarist B.B. King there, by the way.


So the theme is fun, but the fill lacked any real zingers. I liked BOXCAR (1D: Freight train part), because I just like thinking about boxcars, and the CYCLADES (39D: Island group in the Aegean Sea) are certainly evocative, but having the double-initial-initialled JMBARRIE as an answer seems to dilute the theme a bit. I guess OKFINE doesn't start with two initials, though, since the Scrabble dictionary just added it as an acceptable word. Is it just me, or has the two-word and Q-word-with-no-U mania kind of taken the fun out of what was once a great game?

Nobody likes a RADARGUN (67A: Speedster's undoing), and nobody who doesn't live in Kentucky knows for sure what a BLUEROAN is, but the clue for FERRIC (7D: Irony?) was hilarious, and I liked the French answers OUTRE (5D: Eccentric), EAU, and FESSES. What's that? You say FESSES wasn't clued as French? Bummer.

- Horace

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tuesday, September 25, 2018, Ross Trudeau


Strange start to the week so far. Yesterday was a tribute to two TV game shows, and today we have an homage to manspreading. When I finished I looked at the circled letters briefly and thought they represented subway lines. The A Train is definitely a thing, and I thought, ok, maybe there's an M train, but N? Anyway, I figured it out soon enough that the word "man" in OMANI spreads out as it slumps down the puzzle, eventually taking up all the horizontal space available. Poor AMYPOEHLER! Forced to EDGEIN right there in the middle. Luckily, I don't have to experience manspreading much, because I commute by bicycle. I have to worry more about car-spreading. I'm not sure which is more annoying. :)
Looking around at the fill today, I am reminded of Amy Reynaldo's phrase "Tuesdays gonna tueze," or something like that. What I think she means is that Tuesday puzzles are often where you find strange things. A manspreading theme, for example, and things like Mount ELBERT, the ROEDEER, and uncommon (to me, anyway) names like Ginobili MANU and MAXWELLANDERSON. That SW corner almost did me in! I sidled up to the OPENBARS (37D: Free drink locales) quickly enough, but I wanted VERTicES, and I didn't know those three other proper nouns referenced above. Finally, I hit upon VERTEXES (38D: Corners in geometry) and everything came together.

Nice that NUDE and BARE are symmetrical (I tried Nsfw in that first slot for a bit), and I also liked VAMOOSED (41D: Skedaddled), and NERVE for "Courage," because it reminded me of Bert Lahr singing the Cowardly Lion's song. "Da Noive..." :)

Overall, I'm just gonna go with Amy on this one. Tuesdays gonna tueze. Tooze? Tues? I'd better head over to Diary of a Crossword Fiend to find out.

- Horace

Monday, September 24, 2018

Monday, September 24, 2108, Michael Black

6:47 (F.W.O.E.)

I was unsure of the spelling of VIJAY Singh's name when I entered VeJAY, but I put it in anyway, and then spent over a minute trying to find the error after I filled everything else in. Ah well... so much for a perfect week.


Today's theme pays tribute, for some reason, to the shows JEOPARDY and WHEELOF/FORTUNE along with their hosts. I'll just go ahead and call VANNAWHITE one of the two hosts of Wheel, even though she doesn't get to say a whole lot, because without her, it just wouldn't be the same show. Me, I actually prefer the show she's on, which in this market airs at an earlier time. The JEOPARDY host has gotten to be almost unwatchable for me. I'm sure he'll love seeing his name in the grid today.

I enjoyed seeing PAPERMOON (6D: Movie for which Tatum O'Neal won an Oscar) in the grid. I prefer thinking of the song from which the movie got its name, but I guess it would be hard to clue it that way... GODPARENT (33D: Aunt or uncle, sometimes) is also good - something you don't see every day in the puzzle. And I kind of like that the answers with initial initials, APTEST and EFILES are symmetrical.

I thought I'd never know "43D: Ditch for cutting lumber," but SAWPIT, when it became clear, made so much sense! :)

ONYXES looks strange, but I suppose it's fine, and I thought "Alcohol that's transparent" was a little odd for GIN, because really, all alcohol is transparent. What they probably meant to say there was "alcoholic beverage that's transparent."

It was fine.

- Horace

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday, September 23, 2018, Andrew Zhou


When I saw the title of today's puzzle, I thought to myself, "OK, Mr. Zhou, this had better be good!" But he was not (I don't think) talking about his crossword, but about the piece of art that he is paying homage to within the puzzle.

C'est une pipe!
I am taking a metaphysics class this fall at Harvard's Extension School, and boy do I hate it so far. Far too much time is spent trying to decide what is something and what is not. And none of them has done any better than MAGRITTE did when he pointed out that a painting of a pipe is not a real pipe. Such is the TREACHERYOFIMAGES. They are merely AREPRESENTATION of reality.

And speaking of reality, this is a really good puzzle. I'm starting to think maybe the title was a brag, because that pipe in the middle looks perfect, and I just love that PIPELINE is included as theme material. Apt! And I like to think that the face in the middle of the puzzle is meta-theme material, a sort of a "ceci n'est pas un visage" kind of thing. Really nice.

You'd expect that for all that beauty in the theme, there'd be some compromises in the fill, but I don't have a lot to complain about. The old-style REATA (52A: Dogie catcher) got a cute clue, and I also enjoyed the clues for AROMAS (56A: Invisible lures), PUPU (37A: Hawaiian for "appetizer") (Did not know that), and METAPHOR (33D: Something that shouldn't be mixed). I didn't know either LODI or OLIVET, but I was able to drop in GAIUS (24D: Julius Caesar's first name) and TROI (90D: Half-Betazoid "Star Trek" character), so I guess we've all got our different things.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this one. What a nice way to start my week of reviews!

- Horace

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Saturday, September 22, 2018, Sam Trabucco


Why did I have such trouble with 1A: Eats before dinner? (APPETIZER)? I immediately thought "hors d'oeuvres" which was three letters too long. I then thought of the actual answer, but wanted it to be plural because of the first word of the clue. If we're taking that to be a noun, then shouldn't the answer be plural? Or does the term "appetizer" encompass multiple foods? I remain unconvinced.

Meanwhile, 12D: "Elektra" composer (STRAUSS) provided my first real foothold. If you don't know this opera, you're missing out. Unless you just really don't like opera, then ICONCEDE you might not enjoy this particular example either. From there I worked my way down and across.

The middle offset stack of five answers are pretty good. On the positive side is THETIMEWARP and the very amusing clue at 36A: Way to get around writer's block? (PRESSPASS). CHARLIEROSE on the other hand is a sorry reminder of the state of white (mostly straight) male poor behavior nowadays. It makes me unhappy to belong to that group. Maybe some AAMEETINGS for them folks might cause some change for the better.

On the down side, IOLA. I looked it up. I hope we have no readers here from that fair metropolis, because I'm going to go on record right here and say that 5,000 people does not a city make. And I really have a hard time believing that it's crossword worthy. Would we, with our northeast bias, expect solvers from the midwest to know that Barre, Massachusetts exists? It has about the same population. I looked that up too.

Anyway, other than that unfortunate BLAT, I enjoyed the puzzle. It was a good challenge. The two 15-letter answers are excellent. I also will say I am amused that the PEEDEE and the MEKONG are nearly symmetrically placed. The latter is ten times (!) longer than the former.

And there's your geography lesson for the day.

- Colum

Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018, Zhouqin Burnikel


Perhaps it's the news coming out of North Carolina this week, but this grid looks like a stylized hurricane to me. The eye of the storm is smack dab in the middle. Of course, the downside of that is that the grid is remarkably segmented. Look at those very large right angles of black squares in the N and S which have created dead ends. I don't love that sort of thing, but I suspect that all that isolation made it easier to put in a lot of nice answers.

Answers like HATEMAIL crossing EMPTYWORDS (truer sentiments were never written - especially in our current day and age). I love the pile of answers in the SW corner: STUCCO over TATAMIMAT over ICEPALACE.

My favorite in the whole puzzle is 62A: Took courses under pressure (STRESSATE). First, there's the misdirect of food rather than college classes. Second there's the outstanding lack of a question mark (probably it is questionable not putting one in, but I love it). Third, because the verb in the answer is an irregular one, the past tense of the clue does not result in an -ED in the answer. And finally, it's just a great answer.

Too much analysis? I don't care. It's my turn to blog and I get to talk about what I want to! Hah!

Okay, sorry about that. But don't worry. You'll be RID of me soon, at least for a couple of weeks.

I got off to a slow start in the NW but confidently entering "losseS" at 4D: Entries in red (DEBITS). I was misled by wanting to put "scold" in at 1A: Dress down (CHIDE). I finally ended by entering COSSETS. An excellent answer and overall an excellent puzzle.

- Colum

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thursday, September 20, 2018, Sam Ezersky

16:29 (but really it's a DNF)

Oh, Mr. Ezersky. You are a clever one. I knew something was up when I moved out of the NW and suddenly found myself faced with unchecked squares. Those are those squares which are not in both across and down answers.

Well, only seemingly not in across answers. In fact, when read across by jumping up or down a level as needed, you get a full answer. My iPad app told me with a blinking info message that the clue at 53A actually refers to an answer that starts in the first square of the 12th line. In this case, 53A: Group that bows onstage gets the answer S-T-R-I-N-GSECTION.

But what's really clever is that the parts of the answers that bounce back and forth between lines are all synonyms for different types of cords: thread, lace, and string. Or things that actually would bind, say, a shoe together by moving back and forth. Very pretty.

ALAS, I made too many errors to claim victory over this one. I had SnOB for a "Gross figure". I originally had nTh for 19D: Series finale? (ETC), and while I corrected the E, I failed to recognize that ETh wouldn't answer. And finally I originally had wIn for 37D: Top (LID), and while I fixed the L, the sad N remained incorrectly in place.

The only answer I have any problem with is COAGENT. This seems fake to me. I ACCEPT (in the sense of "stomach") that it is a potentially usable term. It's just that I can't imagine anyone actually ever saying it.

Otherwise, there's the excellent GLOTTIS and ENSCONCE. ANAHEIMCA is crazy. That's just a constructor going AMUCK, but in a good way.

Also, 1A: African menace (MAMBA) had me very confused for a while. I really wanted "tse-tse" even though it clearly didn't fit, then I tried "ebola".

Why is Scotland the Land of Cakes?

- Colum

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018, Scot Ober and Jeff Chen


I suppose you must be in a crossword solving mood to notice that all four names of today's constructors are four letters long...

Well, on this Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, may the Schwartz be with you. YIDDISH is well established in our vocabulary, especially in the hallowed pages of the New York Times. I'd say from my Jewish perspective that three of these phrases are common usage (SCHMALTZ, CHUTZPAH, and OYGEVALT), while TCHOTCHKE is fairly common.

I suppose VERKLEMPT might be familiar to those who watched Mike Myers's character Linda Richman and her show Coffee Talk on 1990s Saturday Night Live. MEGILLAH though is probably new to most solvers.

None of that kept me from speeding through this puzzle. My fastest time ever for a Wednesday. I appreciate such bits as the non-Yiddish word SCHNAUZER (simply German in this case) and OCEANIA. I don't really have much to complain about. It's a reasonable Wednesday.

Oh, and how about that CTRLZ? That definitely takes some chutzpah!

May your fast be easy.

- Colum

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tuesday, September 18, 2018, Greg Johnson

5:08 (FWOE)

The scientist in me is quite pleased with today's theme. There are three common molecules, all typically encountered as gases, represented in their standard chemical notation in the grid. METHANE comes up as a C surrounded in each direction by an H, while the double bonds found in CARBONDIOXIDE shows up as OCO in AMOCO. It's quite clever, and the placement of the molecules makes them seem like they're actually floating in the grid.

It's a nice find that WITHCHEESE and JOHNHUGHES are the same length, both with those H_H patterns. I'm not as used to seeing AHCHOO as "achoo" in the grid, but DONHO is an old friend.

There are definitely some tradeoffs in the fill, however. The middle W section is rough, with ECONO prefix, MOLAR crossing MALAR and abbreviation MAJ. The middle E section is better, even with OMG crossing NGO. I made a silly error by misreading 26D: Easily changing emotions (MOODY) as describing the emotions rather than the person experiencing the emotions, and put in MOODs. Always check the crosses!

Also finding IMAC and IPOD in the same puzzle?

On the other hand, who doesn't like 4D: Group in a pit (ORCHESTRA)? And 24A: Wearers of kilts (SCOTSMEN) is also very good.

On the other other hand, I could do without the image conjured up by HOTWAX. Guess I'm just swimming in my male privilege.

- Colum

Monday, September 17, 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018, Caitlin Reid


No need to FISH for compliments, Ms. Reid! This is a fine Monday puzzle, with which I could find little FAULT.

I enjoyed the hidden fishing theme, mostly because I didn't see it until I was finished. The best kind of hidden theme, in my humble opinion. All four theme answers are solid in their own right, with FIDGETSPINNER amusingly suddenly passé. I, for one, not so familiar with the rod and the reel, did not recognize the spinner as being part of fishing tackle. But that's on me.

Meanwhile, the excellent SAUERKRAUT, which anyone enjoys on a hot dog (or really on most anything, if you're Horace, I believe) and the esteemed Mr. GANDOLFINI help anchor the puzzle. I also liked POTHOLES crossing PITS.

26D: Anchorage's home (ALASKA) is a mild hidden capital. Also undoing what might be a small amount of less than stellar fill is the inclusion of both POS and NEG.

Sure, I'm not a fan of MEDO (the answer or the original song, which is hardly the best example of The Beatles' work), but these are small prices to pay.

- Colum

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday, September 16, 2018, Joel Fagliano


This has been a whirlwind weekend. We hopped down to NYC to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday with the family. We went to a lovely upscale French restaurant, called La Grenouille. It is also known because Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote parts of Le Petit Prince there.

Anyway, I solved the puzzle on my way home while Hope was driving. It's a straightforward concept: add an extra syllable made up of your everyday homely schwa sound into a standard phrase, in order to make a new phrase, which is then clued in a wacky fashion. I enjoyed SENATOROFGRAVITY, which is an absurd nickname. None of the others really tickled my funny bone, however. KINGJAMESBUYABLE is very clever, and I liked RIOTINGONTHEWALL for its topicality and for the transformation of "writing" into the final form.

TURNTHECORONER should have worked better for me, but the joke was already used in The Addams Family musical. "Death is just around the coroner... get it? Coroner?" So... yeah.

OKAYOKAY, it's not in any way a CLUMSY theme, so I really HAVANA cause for complaint.
Apparently it's a real thing
Things that made my heart RACY:

20A: Instrument whose name sounds like a rebuke of Obama's dog (OBOE). Wow, what a complicated way to come up with a new clue for an longtime friend.
65A: Flower said to cover the plains of Hades (ASPHODEL). Lovely clue and answer.
17D: Workers who are always retiring? (PITCREW) - excellent.
45D: What "..." may represent (TYPING). So unexpected, and those who don't use smart phones may not understand.

I am actively against 94A: Harmonized (INUNISON). That's the opposite of harmonizing.

Overall it was fine.

- Colum

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Saturday, September 15, 2018, David Liben-Nowell

around 23:00

A challenging end to the Turn today, pinned together with two grid-spanners and two tens: SAMESEXMARRIAGE (17A: Equal rights subject), SELFDRIVINGCARS (56A: Auto-mated things?), CLEANSLATE (30D: New Year, metaphorically), and MIMEOGRAPH (Reproductive system?). Two very timely, one perfectly fine, and one that, while all warm and nostalgic-y for me, I can imagine that some people might complain that it's a bit out-dated. ININK for "Permanently" might fall into that same category.

I liked the trivia in USSTEEL (5D: Company whose headquarters were built from its own product), and it's funny how it's kind of a homonym of its neighbor STEALS (6D: Unbelievable bargains). Other fine entries include PIPSQUEAK (39A: Squirt), EYELASH (24D: Narrow margin) and PARIAHS (10D: Lepers).

It got very college-y up in the NW with CAMPUSMAP and OHIOSTATE, not to mention SCH in the mid west.

Horace and I have been trying to get this review done while hanging out with friends this weekend. They also want us to TAKESTEPS to the beach. One friend asked what we could possibly write about the puzzle, "there are letters, there are squares." MEOW. With all the questions they keep AXING, it's very difficult to focus. I think we should SPLIT.

~Frannie (& Horace)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday, September 14, 2018, John Guzzetta

Untimed, DNEF
 Mr. Guzzetta and I were largely on the same WAVELENGHTHS today, except for one square in the south east. I’ve never heard of DAX Shepard (of “Parenthood,” apparently), and it wasn’t a personal name that I could guess, I guess. I tried to HUNTANDPECK through the alphabet, and thought a good guess might be DAn, but although I didn’t know the answer to 47D: "Classic Jaguars,"  either, I was pretty sure it wasn’t nKES, if you see what I mean. So, I asked Horace to tell me what was wanted in that square, which caused the DNEF (Did Not Exactly Finish) you see above. And, no one likes a CHEATER, so to be completely honest, the puzzle was not exactly untimed; I tried to do it last night when it came in at 10PM, but I feel asleep with the puzzle open, so the timer continued to tick as I dozed, which is no reflection on the WORTH of Mr. Guzzetta’s puzzle, it was just that kind of a day.
I liked all the ten-and eleven-letter answers in the puzzle, and the sort of pinwheel shape of the grid. I especially liked the three in the bottom right (HUNTANDPECK, ITSAMIRACLE, and THATSGENIUS), but the international trio of SWISSCHARD, ABBA’s song HONEYHONEY, and Mazurka’s TRIPLETIME meter in the south west were also upstanding entries.
Shameless plug for my niece's Etsy shop
“Offensive line” (BARB) was a nice twist especially since the puzzle also included the clue and answer at 36D: "Grounds for a 15-yard penalty" (LATEHIT) which is actually football related.
I especially enjoyed “Distant stars?” HASBEENS. Ha! ROTISSERIE for Spit spot is also nice. Somewhat to my surprise, I dropped THU right in for 9D: "Night that ‘Friends’ aired: Abbr." I never watched the show, but somehow I knew the answer. IMAGINETHAT!
Let us all remember, dear readers, that pride goeth before a all. “End of a count?” totally rooked me today. I had the correct answer (ESS) thanks to the downs, but I could not figure out why. I FILA little SHEEPISH about it, but there you go.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018, Alex Eaton-Salners


Greetings all. I'm here to explain to you the connections and loopholes, or ins and outs of today's puzzle. Not that they need much explaining. The two revealers, clued as "Where work piles up" [IN]BOX and "Where finished work goes" [OUT]BOX tip us off to the fact that each theme answer has a literal [IN] and [OUT] box rebus square. Apt! Well, they tip us off to that fact once we get to the south easternmost part of the puzzle. I don't  know if this happened to any of you, dear readers, but I entered FOUNTAINOFYOUTH (Goal for Ponce de Leon) right out of the gate, which, amazingly, fits in the same number of squares as the correct answer THEFOUNTA[IN]OFYO[OUT]H. Who'dda thunk? It's funny what fits when you don't realize there's a rebus. The same thing happened to me at 33D where I entered "blankly" for "One way to stare" instead of the correct answer [IN]TENTLY. My favorite theme answer was FROTH[IN]GATTHEM[OUT]H (Incensed). It's crazy good. :)

"Give the silent treatment?" (MIME) - what happens if you give a mime the silent treatment?
"Um, don't look now, but ..." (AHEM) - I enjoyed the scene this clue conjured up.
"The end of mathematics?" (QED) - I bet Huygens liked this one, if he is still out there puzzling.
"Middle of a puzzle?" (ZEES) - this self referential clue didn't fool me for a minute.
"Cash cache, for short" (ATM) - fun clue for an old chestnut.
And my personal favorite:
"John of Cambridge" (LOO) - ha!


URSI, LLCS, PSY, and AKC didn't AMAZE, but I do appreciate the fact that Mr. Eaton-Salners kept his clue for SHH librarian-free!


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wednesday, September 12, 2018, Jeffrey Wechsler


Despite another puzzle whose theme and consist were practically tailor made for me, I still FWOEd - with a slightly less dumb error than yesterday. I misspelled the names of both Philosopher Lao-TsE and Prime Minister SHINsOABE in one stroke. It looked legit but apparently it wasn't. :)

I relished the theme - literal translations of French food items. Once I got to the revealer, FRENCHCHEF (Julia Child's PBS show, with "The" ... or one associated with the answers to the starred clues), the four theme answers went like hot cakes. BOUILLABAISSE was new to me - translation-wise. I'd never really thought about it before, perhaps because I've never had it before. I don't take a fruit de mer.

In addition to the French menu items, a number of other entries combined to give the puzzle an international zest:
"____ und Drang" (STURM)
"Food that comes in rolls" (SUSHI)
"Like about 17% of the land in Holland" (RECLAIMED) - I wonder if the statistic applies literally to Holland, or The Netherlands as a whole.
"Ancient Icelandic literary work" (EDDA)

There were some other tasty small bites as well:
"Pricey bar" (INGOT)
"Example of change" (DIME) - nice one, but I wasn't fooled.
"Rose no longer seen in fields (PETE)

I also liked SHUN, PEP, and, of course, ASIMOV.


The puzzle had, perhaps, too liberal a sprinkling of abbreviations, partials, and three-letter fill (EMT, LAS, SAO, AAA, et al.) to earn a five-star rating, but ASWITH all matters of taste, de gustibus non disputandum est.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Tuesday, September 11, 2018, Timothy Polin

7:55 FWODE

Mr. Polin starts off this puzzle squarely in my wheelhouse with METADATA (Information about other information). DEFANG (9A: Make harmless, as a snake) went right in and I was off to the races. That is, until I put the moron in OXYMORON by spelling it with an "i". Derp. TiRESE as a cross was no help, as I've never heard of Mr/s. Gibson.

For the theme we are treated to a bouquet of expressions featuring names of flowers, including SHRINKINGVIOLET and GILDTHELILY that together make for some "High-flown speech or writing" or FLOWERYLANGUAGE. I thought it a nice arrangement.

I liked MOSHES, EXHORT, SLUG and SNUG. Looking at TEASET after I finished the puzzle, I thought it could be an old past participle of tease. :)

LOKI then and now
There were two pair of related clues, which I found interesting:
"Long in the tooth" (OLD) and "Grow long in the tooth" (AGE)
"Stare slack-jawed" (GAWP) and "Slack-jawed feeling" (AWE)
That's the NYTX for you: keeping things FRESHASADAISY.


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Monday, September 10, 2018, Jacob Stulberg


Today's grid is filled with rounds of delicious cheeses evenly distributed within longer words like FREETRADE (FETA), DEADCALM (EDAM), BURLIVES (BRIE), and BILGEPUMP (BLEU), making a real CHEESE SPREAD. My favorite is bilgepump, a spot some might think apt for a moldy old dairy product like blue cheese. Apt!

What, dear readers, do my solve time and Limburger have in common? They both stink. Last week, I almost broke the 5 minute mark, whereas today, in my attempt to speed through the puzzle, erroneous synonyms or close matches regularly BEFELL me. I entered EATat instead of EATON (Use as a dinner table), beCALMed instead of DEADCALM, and 'value' instead of MERIT, to name just three examples, which made it more of a SLOG than it might have been. That is not to say that I didn't enjoy the puzzle, just that it took me longer than it should have. SOBE it.

I loved all three of these conversational clues today:
"Well, obviously" (NODUH)
"Oh, puh-leeze!" (SPAREME)
"Start working" (GETBUSY)

I liked that the longer answers in the north east and south west symmetrical spots were kind of opposites: STOODASIDE and EMBARKEDON. Also, looking over the puzzle for the review, I notice that we have both WED and AWED. What a difference an A makes. :) I thought it was nice that HEX crossed CRONE, but are we allowed to say crone these days?

We don't normally admire a partial, but who can argue with "Slangy ending for 'any'" (HOO)? And the tired old AARP is revitalized with its excellent clue "Grp. making after-work plans?" - ha!


Sunday, September 9, 2018, Hal Moore


Love 'em or hate 'em, the LOVEHATERELATIONSHIPS today are surprise rebus squares! Me, I love 'em. There are only four, but they are very well done, using "LOVE" in the horizontal and "HATE" in the vertical. And at least for me, they really made simple answers much more difficult to see. C[HATE]AU (98D: Fancy French home), for example, should have been easy enough, but it took me forever! Even with LEIAS (110A: "Princess ____ Theme" (John Williams composition)) and ERST (99D: Once, once) in place, that quadrant was the last one I filled in. In fact, the A of ADOUT (114A: Certain break point) was my last square. The "17-year-old Peace Nobelist Yousafzai" was not helping me!

I liked the cluing today. 31A: Minor's opposite (ADULT), for example, probably had a lot of people guessing "major" at first, and for 29A: Whopper inventor (LIAR), I spent some time trying to remember if it was M&M Mars, or Hershey's, or some other chocolate company that made those malted milk balls... And 88A: Parts of many law firm names (AMPERSANDS) also amused me. And for the record, I got 98A: Chocolate chip cookie starters? (CEES) with a single cross - and still couldn't see C[HATE]AU for a long while! Sheesh!

Other things I liked were HUNTERGATHERER, CALIP[HATE], OVERTURE (76D: Score starter), BAREFOOT, INDECENCY (see also: BUM), and YESWECAN.

I'll let Frannie tell you what she did or didn't like in the second half of this review.

Thanks for reading!

- Horace

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Saturday, September 8, 2018, Andrew J. Ries


I mostly liked this puzzle, but QUEBECER (19D: Celine Dion, by birth) did not sit well with me. I don't know any, so I probably shouldn't be making any judgments on this (do you think it will stop me?), but I prefer the term "Québécois." Also, I guess TAXISQUAD (18A: Practice roster for an N.F.L. team) rings a faint bell, but why is it called that?


Those two ignorant complaints aside, I enjoyed this challenging Saturday puzzle. So let's get to the good stuff! FERRIS (43A: Name for a big wheel) was amusing to slowly uncover. And FLOATS (41D: Jerk's creations) was fun, even though I so wanted to make "malted" work. And AREARUG (2D: It provides only partial coverage) got one of those super-literal clues that seems so obvious when you have it filled in, but gets you thinking of all different things before that.

The central stair-stepping trio includes some good trivia in GEORGIADOME (32A: Only facility in the world to have hosted the Olympics, Super Bowl and Final Four), but the other two are only mildly interesting. CARROTJUICE. Hmph. There's nothing super-long except that central spanner SNAPCHATFRIENDS (7D: Ones sharing some shots), the clue for which would work whether "shots" meant photos or alcohol, I think.

Let's end by focussing on TUSCAN (27A: Florentine, for example), but here's a TIP, the next time you travel to Tuscany, don't spend more than a day or two in Florence. Sure, it's mandatory, but don't let it be all you see of this incredibly beautiful region of the world. Go to Siena and sit in the Campo eating a gelato in the evening, get a car and drive the curvy, gently rolling roads through the fields of wheat and sunflowers, visit one of the many hilltop towns and get lunch at some hole-in-the-wall place. I assure you, you will ADORE it.

- Horace

Friday, September 7, 2018

Friday, September 7, 2018, Josh Knapp


A smooth, fun Friday, if a little SPEEDY. Much of it fell on the first GOROUND for me, and what didn't fall just right didn't do much harm. I guessed bAnAnATREE, for "17A: Part of a Central American grove," but the As still worked, so it wasn't all bad. :) Oh, and that reminds me of a good clue - "15D: What a colon might denote" (EYES).


The corners are chunky, especially the NW and SE, which contain stacked tens crossed by triple-sevens. (Jackpot!) The crosses are definitely better up top, with DOPPLER, INAHOLE, and STPAULS. And I'll throw in CHASTE, too, for the Shakespeare (Cymbeline) clue "As ____ as unsunn'd snow." In the SE we've got the unusual TENTBED (35D: Comfy safari digs) (Huh.), WETCELL (37D: Battery type) (not too common anymore, are they?), two proper names, and WASABI (40D: Hot green stuff), which is always welcome.

I liked QUICKSAND (23A: It takes time to sink in), ABOMINABLE (47A: Foul), SHEAVE (38D: Bundle up), LAUNCHPADS (26D: What shuttles leave from), and SKETCHBOOK (9D: Resource for an artist to draw on?). That's a lot of nice, long material. And HEADSHOPS (41A: Pipe sellers) is timely for solvers in Massachusetts. I just read an article about hopeful head-shop-owners trying to get through all the necessary permitting and licensing so they can open up in Harvard Square. I'll still believe it when I see it, but supposedly, it's going to happen.

There's almost no glue in here. Maybe BARER, or the one-L IDYL... and BALDPATE and REPROVE are a little unusual, but it's not much. Clean, full of interesting answers, just a bit quick, maybe.

- Horace

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Thursday, September 6, 2018, Jeff Chen


First of all, did anyone else see the little flashes that occurred when certain letters were put in? I think mine said "1/2 Done!" and "3/4 Done!," but I am not sure, because they kind of puffed out of the square and disappeared, and the first time it happened, I had already moved on to look at the next clue. For me, they appeared when I filled in the very SE square (last letter of 56-Down), and then the last letter of 59-Down. And those two answers aren't even part of the theme, so I think it must just be a new thing that shows your progress. And btw, I'm solving on a laptop on the web version. Not in Across Lite or the iPad app.


Anywhoo, that little bit of weirdness aside, we've got a nice puzzle today with an iceberg in it. I'm not sure whether the black squares are trying to make a picture of an iceberg or not, but we know it's in there because the tip of it is floating just above the surface of the puzzle! The letters I-C-E-B-E-R-G must be assumed above every other column, starting with 2-Down. I figured the C out pretty early on with [C]OVERCHARGES (4D: Entry fees), and then I think I got [I]SLAM and [E]MERGES, so for a while I thought it might just be "ICE" up there, maybe twice. Eventually, though, I got [B]ARES (7D: Exposes) and everything clicked.

The beautiful thing is that each theme answer is still a word without the hidden letter, but is clued to force it. It makes me wonder if this could ever happen accidentally. If I went back and carefully scrutinized every NYT puzzle, could I make words that would stick off the top (or sides or bottom) in a regular pattern? Seems unlikely, but who knows? These words all look pretty normal - "slam," "unit," "Ares," ... Seems like it could be a good project for someone like David Steinberg. How 'bout it, Dave? It would be pretty cool if you found one! And then, as a follow up question, could you then re-submit the exact same puzzle with new clues to support the found word(s)? Sounds like it could be "transformative use" to me!

Great clues today. The afore-pictured KONG was wonderful, "Exchange of swear words?" makes IDOS totally acceptable, "It's between an A and a B" (NINETY) was tricky. (I feel like on a Saturday, the articles would have been left out, which would have made it even harder.)

It's a shame about SEARACE crossing PRATE, but, well, what are you going to do? It's not the worst I've seen. And I'm kind of amused by ATEOF (40A: Tasted), but I would have been more amused if the clue had been "Tasted, biblically." Heh. No. Maybe not.

Fun, Thursday, and a solid start to the Turn!

- Horace

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Wednesday, September 5, 2018, Erik Agard, Amanda Chung, and Karl Ni


Opening Day for the NFL is tomorrow! Neither team playing in the first game is in this puzzle, but six other teams are, and they are "built" by way of compound clues. As in, 24A: Frat dude + Cpls. and sgts. (BRO + NCOS =  BRONCOS). Or, better yet, 50A: Butter square + Hilarious people (PATRIOTS). Excellent. The most obscure clue for me was the TI of TITANS ("Whatever You Like" rapper), but the crosses were more than fair. I like the theme, I like the revealer, TEAMBUILDING, and I like the bonus theme material - CHEERLEAD (18A: Root on) and KNEEL (37A: Take a stand by not standing).


Three other sports crowd into the puzzle, with TENTHINNING (11D: Bonus in baseball), NHLGAME (45D: Stanley Cup matchup, e.g.), and my favorite, 57A: Course overseer, for short (PGA).

The fill had a few rough spots. LUNISOLAR seems to be a thing, but it's not a super common thing, and I suppose UBUNTU is super common to many, but not to me. Add to that OAS (Organization of American States), ARI, NAE, ONES, TWOS, ORA and ORO, and you've got a noticeable amount of glue.

But then you've also got THEDOGATEIT (3D: Classic schoolkid's alibi), IVEGOTAPLAN (27D: "Hmm, leave this to me"), DATELINE (40D: It runs down the middle of the Pacific), and NOFEWERTHAN (25D: At least), which is kind of a lot of bonus long material.

On balance, I'm giving it a thumbs up. Turns out I was ready for some football.

- Horace

Tuesday, September 4, 2018, Bruce Haight


The "A-T"s is the theme today. My least favorite musical decade (that I've lived through) (see: OATES), but a fine Tuesday crossword puzzle theme. Three of the four theme answers are in every day use, but I wanted ANCHORTENANT (63-Across, once) (really, but not really) to be "anchor store." Still, it's fine. Besides,  "ATEIs," "tBERT," "oOISE," FrNG," "AeDHOW," and "INI_" didn't work. Heh. I can't believe I just typed all that out. What's more, I can't believe I'm going to leave it in my review! :)

It's a WORLDCLASS blog I tell ya. WORLDCLASS.  :)


I like all the two- and three-word answers today. UPFOR (12D: Enthused about), GOTBY (13D: Coped, barely), IMOFF (1A: "Gotta go!"), TAGUP, ASIAM (32A: Just the way you see me), NOSIR (49D: Polite refusal), and ANDHOW (47D: "You can say that again!"), to name just seven. And then, of course, there's also PIANOTUNER (11D: One involved with a grand opening?). Great clue there. And speaking of clues, my last letter was the V of MVP (54A: Star athlete, for short). After I got the "Congratulations" screen, I went back to look once more at "55D: Pair of skivvies?," and wouldn't you know it, they got me again! I just could not make sense of that when I was solving, but after the fact, I see it's yet another meta-clue (there are two Vs in skivvies) that stumped me. UGH!

Fine theme with good bits (SPURN, LOIN, WREST, SOLAR) scattered around. A fine Tuesday.

- Horace

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Monday, September 3, 2018, Trent H. Evans


The progression today changes from sitting, to standing, to walking, to running, and once running, the CHASE goes on with NOEND in sight. I don't actually think that 1-Across and 65-Across are part of the theme, but they kind of go along with it if you open your mind a bit. YIPES!, I'm not getting all "Show me your AURA, BRO," I'm just saying that a reviewer MAKESDO with the material that s/he is given. GEESE! :)


Seriously, though, the theme is solid. All the phrases are completely quotidian (in the good way), and the progression is strong. Sure, I started writing in RUNNINGgag, but when I saw I was going to have one square left I changed it right away.

Another thing is that the theme is not overdone, which gives some LEA-way for a few excellent Downs: AWKWARDAGE (11D: Middle school years, notably), ARROWHEADS (28D: Images on Kansas City Chiefs' helmets), and PARAGON (43D: Model of excellence). There's a DAB of AAS, OSS, ARI, RIC, and UKE, but it's not overwhelming.

I'd say it's a very nice debut puzzle (Congratulations, Mr. Evans!), and a solid start to the week.

Happy Labor Day to all!

- Horace

Sunday, September 2, 2018, Tom McCoy


A fun theme of classic foes going head to head. It's more like back to back, in my opinion, but then that wouldn't be much of a pun, so I guess I'll agree with Mr. McCoy. And really, the heads of each word are touching, so... it's fine. What am I complaining about!


And a pretty nice trick it is to have made eight of these work. SUESEHTMINOTAUR (22A: Showdown in Greek mythology) was the one that finally broke it for me, and by then I had quite a few crosses in place for the others, which let them all fell pretty fast. Well, all except OIRAMBOWSER (28A: Showdown in classic video games) because I did not know the name Bowser. In fact, I didn't know ELISE (15D: Stefanik who is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress) (30, NY) either, and guessed a "z" in that spot at first, leading to a FWOE. AHME.

I enjoyed quite a bit the bonus material found in the Downs today, especially NOSTRILS (4D: They're found under a bridge) (Tricky!), COOKIECUTTER (60D: Undistinguished, as many a subdivision house), AMENTOTHAT (3D: "I couldn't agree more"), and NOCALLLIST (75D: Numbers to avoid) (All those Ls!). What I thought was a bit UNIDEAL were things like NOWISE (37A: Not in any way), SCHS (47A: Univs., e.g.), and WORST (38D: Defeat). Can that even be used in that way? "It was the WORST WORST in the team's history." "That WORST really stung!" "The thrill of victory, the agony of WORST." What am I not understanding here?

Still, there's only a little bit of junk, and overall I really liked this puzzle. The cluing was lively (18A: Strong suit? (ARMOR), 11A: Word that looks like its meaning when written in lowercase (BED), 66A: Brightly colored blazer (SUN), 34A: Tours can be seen on it (LOIRE)), and the theme was well done.

Thumbs up!

- Horace

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Saturday, September 1, 2018, Randolph Ross


I fought with this Saturday puzzle right down to m last letter, which for me was the O of STIMSON (1D: Secretary of war to Taft, Roosevelt and Truman) and OLES (24A: Encouraging words). I just looked at to see if "Encouraging words" had ever been used to clue OLES before, and it turns out that it has been, twice, both in the 1990s. So it's new to me. But that wasn't the only thing that slowed me down.

The central Down entry in this unusual grid pattern, EASTERNER (19D: Connecticut Yankee, e.g.) was another one. I was not aware that the term was so general. And I'm not familiar with the phrase NOTHINGBURGER either. CONTORTIONIST (15D: One who gets bent out of shape), on the other hand, I am all too familiar with. We recently saw the Cirque du Soleil, and the contortionist in the show that night seemed to have no spine at all. There were moments in his performance where I honestly could not be sure which were arms and which were legs. So disturbing.

I'm not sure I buy TENMILE as a "Road Runners' race classification." The only one that I've ever heard of was Charlie's Road Race in Worcester, but that was back in the '80s! Are there others? Well, I guess Mr. Ross must know of a few...


But I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. I enjoyed the challenge, I liked many of the entries, and I thought the SE corner was particularly nice. But still... I guess I didn't love it.