Thursday, August 13, 2020

Thursday, August 13, 2020, Jon Olsen


As the weather at the beach shades to grey skies and rain, what better way to spend your time than to solve crossword puzzles, and then write a review about it? I guess only I get to do that last part today on this particular blog, but the solving is open to all.

What an amazing theme today. I love the concept, the way it's carried out, and the revealer. The motto of the THREEMUSKETEERS is "All for one and one for all," a phrase which at 21 letters, can't be put into a 15 by 15 grid without splitting it up. Instead, it's understood today, referred to without being explicitly stated.

And so Mr. Olson has found four phrases where the words "all" and "one" are hidden inside, and has replaced the former with the latter and the latter with the former. I was confused for a while. I definitely wanted FANTASY (as I so often do when choosing books to read) at 3D, but wanted FallING___ at the start of 17A. Similarly, I had no idea what was going on with ____ROCKZALL. I was also concerned when coming across ____EEY at the end of 22A.

But all became clear. I love RHALLVONEEY and SLYSTONEALL. So fun to look at. PHALLCONE is silly as well. If there's any drawback, once I understood the theme, I was able to fill in all the remainder of the circles in the theme answers, which likely dropped my time. Were the circles necessary? I'm not convinced. I think we all could have figured out what was going on without them. Please comment below.

In the fill, for some reason, I was very pleased by the crossing of WHIRLS and WRENCH. There are a slew of fun answers today. ONYXES is very good, and its clue was a nice misdirection (65A: They might appear in cameos). 13D: February 4th, for many? (SILENTR) is excellent, and I needed most of the crosses to see what they were getting at. ADRIAN is a nice theme bonus.

Few complaints today. CROWER is not great. And nobody wants to be reminded that birds'-nest soup is created from the saliva of specific avian species.

But otherwise it's a great start to The Turn. Looking forward to the rest!

- Colum


  1. 10:40

    Fun theme indeed! I got it with the first themer, because I really wanted it to end in "zone," and when it instead ended in "zall," I figured it out. I like to think I would have figured it out without the circles, but perhaps it would have taken longer.

    I'm a big fan of wines from the RHALLVONEEY, and I am going to start asking for them that way at the local package store. I think they'll get a kick out of it (they won't get a kick out of it).

    And yes, I really hesitated before putting in the final R of SIMMER, but not as long as I hesitated before putting in the T in POETS. And then, once I got the congratulations notice, I went straight to Wikipedia, and then, just as quickly, made a mental note to never order bird's-nest soup.

  2. Loved this a lot! I -- for some reason -- got the THREE MUSKETEERS answer before any of the other themers -- they just Did Not Make Sense! Talk about an AHA moment when it finally hit me -- bam! A great time. Gee, though, I did get hung up on WHEELIE clued as a "simple bike trick." Simple for Misters Olsen and Shortz, perhaps, but for me, a "simple bike trick" is leaning it against the house rather than fix the darn kick stand.

    I'm not sure if the circles were necessary either, Colum -- I mean, they did make it easier toward the end but I'm pretty sure I would've gotten SLY STONEALL and maybe PHALL CONE without them.

    Ditto on the bird's nest soup, Horace :-)

  3. Maybe I just need all the help I can get, especially in a puzzle as full of proper names as this one, but I'm for the circles. But that is what I would say, isn't it. Or what I usually do say about circles anyway.

    My favorite clue was "John or Paul, but not Ringo". For a moment I was thinking popes. But it didn't take long to get the right answer once I'd gotten that far.

  4. 20:57
    Also ditto on the birds nest soup. I didn't know that it was made using SPIT, and will now be sure to never try any. It doesn't seem particularly VEGAN. I think that the circles were necessary in this case. The trick would have been possible to see, but it would have taken a very long time. Interesting idea, and nicely carried out.

  5. The NYT crosswords are difficult enough without scrambling the words. Is this a new concept? I vote thumbs down.