Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Tuesday, May 5, 2020, Lee Taylor


Is it just me, or is the intro "Riddle-de-dee" off-putting?

Today we get a pinwheel theme of riddles:

What is it that the more you take, the more you leave behind? (FOOTSTEPS)
What's light as a feather but can't be held for long? (YOURBREATH)
What's clean when black and dirty when white? (CHALKBOARD)
What asks no questions but must be answered? (TELEPHONE)


Not a bad set, really, and paradoxes are always fun. And how many of you were prompted by the second question to find out what the world record is for holding one's breath? Well, I was, and I'll tell you. The average person can hold their breath for maybe a minute, and some people can hold it for almost three minutes, which is usually long enough to cause yourself to pass out. But the world record - go on, just take a guess... The world record is 22 minutes, 22 seconds. Apparently breath can be held much longer if you're submerged in cold water, and - and this seems to be important - if you hyperventilate pure oxygen for 15 or 20 minutes before you start. Still, the "non-oxygen aided" record stands at 11 minutes, 35 seconds. Yikes!

Records like this strike me as not a good idea. You heard it here first - Do not try to break the breath-holding record!

OK, bit of a sidetrack there...

Some very nice, unusual fill today, like the S-started trio of SLOUGHED (Cast (off)), SHUTEYE (Sleep, informally), and SASHAY (Walk with a swing of the hips and shoulders) in the South. KICKBALL (Activity on a school playground) was always fun, and we've seen many a TEDDY looking out from house windows all around town. Hopefully, all the positive stuffed animal energy will help to bring a CURE and/or a vaccine ASAP. And speaking of the pandemic, are HEADSHOPs essential businesses?

- Horace


  1. Not sure I can defend "riddle-de-dee" (it isn't like it modifies the rest of the clue, except perhaps to suggest what sort of clue it is, sort of like a question mark). But for whatever it is worth, I kinda did enjoy it while solving, maybe just because of the cutesiness or because it aet aside the themers, or something. What I'm saying is it seemed to work before I started thinking about it ao much.

    Not completely sure I buy GAMESTER for a poker player. I wanted GAMbler so bad that I didn't even notice until slightly later in the solve that I had really written GAMbleER with an extra "e".

    In a similar note I had SOLOisTS before SOLOACTS but no grumbling on that one as both aare perfectly suitable. Speaking of that part of the grid, did anyone else have iNALAB before DNALAB? That seems like another case where either answer works and you need the cross to choose.

    1. I agree with you and Colum about GAMESTER. I should have mentioned it in the review! Thanks for calling it out.

  2. Blissfully enjoyable puzzle for me...I love riddles and never heard any of these. Had to complete the whole puzzle before getting the answers, which made me smile. Which is kinda the reason why I solve puzzles: to smile! And it's fun feeling like a kid, even for just a few sweet minutes. :-)

  3. 3:47
    I'm in favor of classic riddles, and the Riddle-de-dee is fine by me. I agree with Jim about GAMESTER. Huh? This is not a thing. On the other hand, BOOYA!

  4. 5:31
    I tried to stretch out "gambler" to fit 25D also, but to no avail, so I immediately erased most of it and went on with my solve. A fine puzzle, with amusing riddles (except for the TELEPHONE one, since it need not be answered). I don't remember ever seeing AITCH in a puzzle before. And I'm not sure about a HEADSHOP being essential. I mean, medical marijuana shops are considered essential -- in this state, anyway -- so maybe there's an argument for it. I'd support it, although my opinion arguably holds as much weight as a GNAT.