Thursday, January 9, 2020

Thursday, January 9, 2020, Alex Eaton-Salners


This puzzle suited me to a T. Well, most of it, anyway. I glommed on to the trick pretty quickly at the top of the northeast. I wanted "Leave this to me" (8D) to be ONIT, but that wouldn't fit. When the next clue (9D) was "Religious group," which had to be SECT, I realized we solvers were supposed to use the four T's formed by the black squares in the grid as part of each answer that abutted them, [T]OSTAR[T], at the end, or both. Getting a free letter - and in some cases two - for 36 answers made ALO[T] of it seem easy.

But, I got mighT stuck in the northwest. There was so much I didn't know in that corner, starting with the word BROODER as a heated house for chicks, I've never heard of BHAJIS (Spicy Indian fritters), despite a love of Indian food. (I looked them up just now, and according to the Wikipedia, outside of certain Indian states, they are known as pakora, which, I *have* heard of. Mmmm, pakora.) The Downs were no help. It took me forever to settle on SETTEES for "Couches" - good one, though. Both PRELUDE and CORONET eluded me. Eventually, the hint in 22A: "Spanish boy's name related to the sixth month of the year" was sufficient to give me JUNO[T], and then flash of insight gave me IDES[T] for "Clarifying phrase." [T]RUEDA[T].

Anyhoo, I've gone on about that [T]OULON. Let's get to the fun part. In addition to the sort of metasolve, I enjoyed many clues and answers including:
"They leave in the spring" ([T]REES) - ha!
"Cry at night" (HOO[T])
"Mince words" (EDI[T])
"Get with the program" (INSTALL)
"Sailor vis-a-vis a sail (HOISTER)
And "Make like" for ENDEAR is also nice.

Other fun features included two answers that looked the same in the grid, one [T]ROU[T] and the other [T]ROU. Those two were followed by the antonymic  pair [T]IMID (Not so brave and determined) and STOU[T] (Brave and determined). It was an added bonus that the clue to the left of the center plus sign was "Plus" (AND).


PRERIGS, SOCORRO, and RUPIAHS - not to mention BHAJIS - were a little far out for me, but I enjoyed the puzzle so much I'm inclined to be LENIENT. :)



  1. 26:28
    I, too, was able to figure out the trick pretty quickly, but was held up by a couple of the same things that stymied Frannie for a while. At first, very briefly, I thought that we could have a rebus going, but SEC[T] made me step back and look at the grid, when lo and behold, I noticed the four big Ts, and then most of the associated answers fell right in. There was still some tricky cluing with those, though, with [T]REES oddly being one, but [T]RAPSE[T] being another. That's a term I've never heard. I'll add it to my list along with the already mentioned BHAJIS, which I'm sure I'd enjoy. I don't love PRERIGS, but I'll accept it.

  2. 33:30

    I noticed the lovely grid work before starting it, but as soon as I got into the clues I forgot about the Ts, and it took me almost 25 minutes to realize what the hell was going on. I don't know how to explain it, really.

    The [T]REES cute was kind of cute, I guess, but I have never heard anything but "leaf out" for trees in spring, which made it less good for me.

    Overall, I like it a lot. It reminds me of Bruce Haight's giant I puzzle that I savaged in this blog, but later came to appreciate. I'm still sorry about that Bruce! :)

  3. This one kicked my ass worse than any puzzle, any day, of the past five years, probably. . I kept thinking about rebuses with T and some other letter-- maybe one letter one way and another the other. It took maybe the fourth sitting for me to get the trick. After that it went pretty quickly. I don't usually take note of the grid until after the fact, and sometimes not even then. I went a LONG time with about a fifth of this thing done.