Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunday, March 29, 2020, Ricky Cruz


This puzzle lost me at BONESAW (Surgeon's tool). Before that, I'd been chugging along, entering things like DISTURBIA (2007 Shia LaBeouf thriller or a 2008 "#1 hit by Rihanna), BARF ("Eww, gross!"), SQUALID (Like a pigsty), SAC (Ink container), OPIOIDS (Some pain relievers), and VEAL (____ parm) without thinking too much about it. But BONESAW? OOF.

I finished it off, eventually, and then stared long and hard at what I thought for a while were two shaded Ns. Finally, I realized that they were actually shaded boxes, and the circled letters were the only different letters in the entire 5x5 squares. All the other letters, and even the black squares, were just the same. Kind of cool, but also kind of weird that they are so arbitrarily cut from longer words all around them. They are nicely side-by-side and centered in the grid, but, well, ...

And what about that TELLRIGHTFROMLEFT entry? We're supposed to SPOTTHEDIFFERENCE between the left and the right squares, and then enter the circled letters into the unchecked slots at either side, but does it really matter which side is which? And why "Keep The Change?"

I don't like unchecked entries, no matter how carefully spelled out, unless there is an exceptionally clever or necessary reason to (self)isolate them. To me, it was all very unsatisfying. But tomorrow is another day, and another reviewer! Here's hoping the new week brings better things.

- Horace


  1. Interesting that it didn't catch your interest the way it caught mine. I loved the SPOTTHEDIFFERENCE idea. Not entirely clear why BLACK and WHITE, though.

  2. 23:04
    I found it a bit easy for a Sunday regarding fill, but LEXEMES is something with which I'm unfamiliar (don't SCOLD, ET59!), and I tried Legal before LICIT fell in via crosses, but nothing RUBS me the wrong way too much. I don't know of this DOBBY, but I thought it was nice to see SUSAN in the grid.

  3. You never know what people will find familiar. LEXEMES I got off a letter or two, and although I did spend some time pondering scalpels or the like until I had some crosses, a BONESAW is a familiar concept to me. On the other hand, DISTURNIA? Needed all the crosses, and even then it was more of a "sounds plausible" than any sort of familiarity.

  4. For what it's worth, Ricky Cruz commented on another blog that he constructed the puzzle WITHOUT the circles. Apparently, Shortz added them in editing. The thing would indeed have been so much cooler if solvers had to "spot the difference" between the two shaded areas themselves and then "kept the changes" and placed them into the unchecked squares. Huygens, as I like to say to my ACT students (about other topics, of course), you know what a LEXEME is, you just don't know that it's called a lexeme.

    1. I like that way of saying it - that you know what it is but don't know what it's called. I'll have to remember that at work.