Thursday, December 19, 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019, Erik Agard, Andy Kravis

35:13, FWOE

Today's puzzle came with a tip: in the newspaper version, the four circled squares contain a slash that divides the square in two. With that in mind, when I got to "Geographic demarcation that separates the two possible answers in this puzzle's circled squares," and having INE at the end, the revealer, STATELINE, didn't take me long. For each of the theme answers, the postal abbreviations for two bordering states are entered into one square. Reading the answer with one state gives the answer to one of the two clues and reading it with the other gives the answer to the other clue in the pair. The same state abbreviation pairs work for the Across and Down clues. Pretty darn nifty. The first theme answer I figured out was RA[MI/IN]S ("Ghostbusters" director Harold / Pours. My favorite was INTHE[WA/OR]Y (Obstructing / On paper) because the two answers are parsed so differently. COMPA[CT/NY]CAR (Executive's perk, maybe / It might fit in a tight spot), for example, is more of a straight swap.

However, even though I got the theme and the rebus pretty quickly, I had some trouble with other parts of the puzzle, especially the north. DIGRAPH took me a while, as did RHEA. And who knew Hoth was an ICEPLANET? You know what else fits at 14D? I'll tell you, alienrAce. The only correct letter in my bad guess, unfortunately for me, supported another of the theme answers, A[CT/NY]ONE, so it stayed in a lot longer that it should have.

I couldn't correct my FWOE even after reviewing the puzzle several times to locate my error. I finally had to look at the solution on Xword Info. I had BEAsT for Humdinger at 28A, which gave MEANMsGS for "Glares sourly at, in modern lingo" at 11 D. While MEANMsGS may be obviously wrong if you know the correct MEANMUGS, it seemed to me like it *could* have been correct. Anywayz, that's my FWOE story.
In addition to the clever theme answers, I thought there a number of other good clues in the puzzle including
"Share a take" (AGREE)
"Inspirational passage?" (TRACHEA)
And the pair, George Sand, for one (ALIAS) and George Sand, par example (NOM) was very good.

I didn't love "Put a border on" for HEM. I'm not saying it's not valid, but 'border' and 'hem' don't overlap that much in my vocabulary. Also, I didn't think "Nurse back to health" was a great match for REHAB. I associate rehab more with something an injured person has to do his or herself to get better while nursing someone back to health is more something someone else does to help another person get better. But, these are quibbles. Overall, I thought the puzzle was a real BEAUT.



  1. 27:01 (FWOE)
    I technically had two errors, but one was just because I entered the state abbreviations in the wrong order in one circle, but I had them both correct, so I don't count that one. My one error came at the METZ/ZYNGA cross, where I tried an "s" to no avail. Now that's a Natick if I ever saw one. The VARGAS/DIGRAPH cross was a tough one, too, but luckily it made itself eventually obvious. Nothing else was too THORNY in this one. PATOOTIE is nice, and everyone loves a PEATY quaff every now and again. AGREE?

  2. 13:15 (FWTE)
    When I came upon the clue "____ Nostra" I thought along friendly lines rather than organized crime lines, and confidently entered CaSA. I never checked "____ water (trendy drink)" but even if I had, I'm not sure I would have changed ALaE to ALOE. Who knew there was ALOE water? And my second mistake was, again, thanks to Disney. I put in ELLA for "Queen of Arendelle, in a Disney movie" confusing, perhaps, the movies Ella Enchanted and Enchanted. "Author Mario ____ Llosa" (VARGAS) being unknown to me, I didn't catch that one either. Pity.

    I thought the clue gave away too much, as clues are wont to do, but even still, I thought the double-Schrodinger effect was pretty cool.