Thursday, January 28, 2021

Thursday, January 28, 2021, Steve Mossberg

Debut alert! Always impressive when a constructor's first puzzle published in the NYT comes on a Thursday, because of the trickiness expected of the theme on that day.

And today's does not disappoint. We get four phrases, to which is added the letters -ILY, transforming the last element into an adverb, which now describes the first part of the phrase. You have to imagine a comma between the two parts in the reworked phrase. Clue wackily, and hilarity ensues, as they say.

All four of the theme answers hit the mark, if you ask me. The one that made me laugh out loud was 39A: Golden blades that may be tenderly chew'd by equine or bovine beings (HAYLOFTILY). Also amusing was THELASTWORDILY, while the other two weren't quite as chuckle-inducing. Although I love the clue for 34A: L iKe aN Ov eN (HOTMESSILY). 

Meanwhile, the fill was also of high quality. I love the clue for 3D: Common congestion points (NOSES). I had NOdES for a while, but the actual answer is more square on the nose, if you will. Also nice was 43D: It may be rolled out for exercise (YOGAMAT). 

RENE Auberjonois from Deep Space 9

The southwest corner has a nice little connection between the two excellent clues 57A: Follower of pigs and cows (EIEIO) - I did not see that coming at all - and 60A: Country sound (TWANG). 

Does anybody else remember NETZERO? Boy, I have a strong feeling that I used it for a while to access the Interwebz. I never much liked AOL. 

Finally, 26A: 90s, say (AAVERAGE) and its symmetrically placed item 45A: One committing insurance fraud, maybe (ARSONIST). Honestly, I liked just about everything about this puzzle. The turn is coming through, baby!

- Colum


  1. I didn't love this one as much as Colum did, but it was OK. I used NETZERO, and remember carefully keeping track of my time online back then. At first, it was free for unlimited dial-up access, then there was a time limit, which may have been ten hours per month or something, after which a charge would occur. After a little more time, and much more competition, the time limit went away, but a monthly charge was initiated for basic access, at which time the name was meaningless. I also remember RENE from "Deep Space Nine" having seen all of the "Star Trek" series all the way through in order now (except for "The Animated Series" which I am now watching and which is terrible), but he also starred in "Benson" for its run. His character was OK in DSN, but I preferred Major Kira. 20:03

  2. It took me a long while to figure out why the ending of each themer was the way it was. And I had SAIDido for a while, instead of SAIDYES, which didn't help at all with the tricky AAVERAGE or HOTMESSILY. In the end, though, I did chuckle at the theme, and overall, I thought this was a fine Thursday.

  3. I had rOSES for the congestion point, but that doesn't make sense because roses are insect pollinated rather than having allergy-inducimg wind borne pollen. Good thing I was thinking botanically because I had jo idea whether that singer was LANA or LArA.