Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thursday, February 18, 2021, Zachary Spitz

It's not every day that your younger daughter turns 19. In fact, it's only one day. And that day is today. So happy birthday, Cece! Keep on working on that Thursday puzzle. It's very often my favorite of the week!

Today we get a Schrödinger puzzle - that is, a puzzle where various squares can be one of two different letters, and both crossing words will work with each. Today's revealer came at 38A: Many P.S.A.s ... or the four circled squares in this grid? (TVSPOTS). The four squares in question can have either a T or a V in them to successfully complete the puzzle.

I went with T, if only to avoid 56A reading ANTIVAX. Not that ANTITAX is that much better, honestly. A couple of the answers are worth noting because of the ways they interpreted the clues. For example, I really like 3D: Some accommodations (HOTELS/HOVELS). That's quite a swing in meaning! Also, 42D: Certain outer coating (TARNISH/VARNISH). One is pleasing, the other less so. I really love the clue for 17A: Designs (INTENTIONS/INVENTIONS). Here the meaning of the clue changes entirely based on which letter is used in the square!

My favorite though is 41A: Famous peanut grower (CARTER/CARVER). What a nice connection between Jimmy Carter and George Washington Carver. Well worth the price of admission.


If you're going to put UIE into the grid, at least have a good clue to support it. In this case, "Short turnaround?" made me smile, so that worked. I also liked 6D: Mountain coverings? (SKISUITS). 60A: One drawing lots? (CARTOONIST) didn't work as well for me. It is true that a person in that profession will be doing a lot of drawing, but the same is true of an architect, an artist, etc.

Meanwhile, I am proud that I got GHANA / ACCRA without much difficulty. Sporcle to the rescue once again. There were times in the past that clues like this would make me GNASH my teeth. 

Sadly, I can't make a connection to yesterday's theme, so there goes my chain. But the blue material continues with 50D: Had a stimulating conversation? (SEXTED). Nice.

- Colum


  1. I entered [TV] in each circle, making them TVSPOTS, and got the Happy Pencil immediately on finishing. Lots to love in this one, and an amazing accomplishment on the part of the constructor to find sixteen words that have that feature. I don't know broadcast personality Kelly CHOI, but all of the others I'd heard of, even writing SELES in off of the clue and one cross. ARSE also went right in, and the whole puzzle really fell pretty smoothly. 15:39

  2. I too really liked CARTER/CARVER - I got to this spot before I had figured out the theme and thought of both answers before writing in CARVER. And later realized I had been right twice.

    Favorite answer: STEVIA of course. Because I can't resist the plant clue, even if I don't have one in my garden at the moment.