Monday, May 31, 2021

Monday, May 31, 2021, Michael Lieberman

Good evening all!

Try not to get too excited: it's Cece, back again to review the Monday puzzle.

Today's puzzle was fun and easy, just how I like 'em. And can I just say, I love the placement of JORTS in the exact center of the grid. Gives it a little more character, I think. Sadly, that was the very last word I filled in, because for some reason I decided 36D (Places for tips) was bARS and was confused as to what a BoRT might be. It didn't take me too long to figure that one out.

I cannot say the same for 22A, ("Superbad" co-star Seth) which I was fully convinced was "Cohen." This made 11D (Flash of genius) quite confusing, as it would necessitate the spelling of "bright" like "brihgt." I wondered if perhaps the theme had something to do with switching g's and h's, before remembering that it's Monday and I was definitely just making a mistake. I then wondered if Cohen, in Seth's case, is spelled "Cogen" with a silent G. Then, in a "Flash of genius" I remembered that Seth Cohen is actually Seth ROGEN and all was right with the world.

Welcome to my brain!

Black and White Cookies

The rest of the puzzle flew by. I like all of the double letters throughout the puzzle. The ZZ, OO, and CC combinations in the bottom half are pretty nice. I also liked BLACKANDWHITES, a cookie that I loved when I was a little kid (but only the chocolate half, thank you very much).

All in all, a solid solve. Thanks for having me back!


Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sunday, May 30, 2021, Adam Wagner


Hi everyone! Glad to be back with you for another scintillating (I hope) week of reviews. As always, my respect to Horace and Frannie for two weeks of fun and interesting posts.

But I win, and the reason why is I get to review a puzzle with Rob BRYDON in it, the first time that's ever happened. If you don't know who he is (and the picture below doesn't jog your memory), may I suggest that you watch the series of movies he made with Steve Coogan, all titled "The Trip." They are essentially entirely improvised, and genuinely hilarious, in my opinion.

Oh, the rest of the puzzle?

Sure, it's okay.

Just kidding! I actually really enjoyed today's theme, related to chess, as revealed at 47D. You can either end a game in CHECKMATE, or when you realize that you're doomed, you can resign by knocking your king over. Thus, we find six examples where the name of a well known king has been knocked sideways out of long down answers. For example, 22D: Spent some time on YouTube, say (WATCHE[DAVID]EO) has the biblical King David sideways at 55A.

Typically, I know that we're supposed to expect that the names will cross over from one word to another in the originating phrase (as in the example above, as well as in TI[MIDAS]AMOUSE, YU[KONG]OLD, and FIDD[LEAR]OUND). The other two examples don't do this, but I don't mind. I very much like NAR[COLE]PTIC, which is a diagnosis in my field of medicine. DESMOND[TUT]U is probably the weakest of the answers in this way, but it's his full name, and we only usually see his last name in the puzzle. It's also nice that each time, the king has fallen down to the left.

My hardest point in the puzzle was at the crossing of 52D: Mowry who starred alongside her twin Tia in the '90s sitcom "Sister, Sister" (TAMERA) and 64A: Pickup line? (RAM). I put the M in because it made the most sense, but only figured out the joke about a line of pickup trucks after the fact.

Some weirdness with GARYIN (I have often heard of the city by Gary, Indiana, but never this way) and the sort of ad hoc answer at 1D: Some hip-hop collectibles (RAPCDS), but otherwise I don't have any complaints. On the positive side, there's OCTOMOM, WENTBYEBYE, and HOTCOCOA, which would go over well in the very cold and wet Northeast of the USA.

- Colum

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Saturday, May 29, 2021, Adam Aaronson

I'm finishing out the week more BASSET than PEKE due to a FWOE in today's puzzle. I don't feel super bad about it because it occurred at a cross of a thing I didn't know exactly how to spell (YIPPEEKIYAY) and a thing I've never heard of (GARI). Our dear readers know that I don't take a fish product of any kind, which means one could count my visits to sushi bars on one finger. I do love ginger, though, especially the tangy pickled kind that comes with spicy tofu pad thai, so not sure how I managed to miss the word completely. Mmmmm, spicy tofu pad thai....

PLOTARMOR also falls into the category of things I've never heard of, but since it is made up of words I do know, there was no ERR. I like the term a lot. I plan to use it to liven up my rants against plot driven shows - you know who you are! 

"Rum-soaked treats" (BABAS) are another food item I'm not familiar with - at least IRL - but thanks to the NYT Spelling Bee (or Busy Bee, as I like to call it), it's a word I now know. 


Despite the FWOE occurring in the southeast, things were most TANGLY for this solver in the northwest. Even with DEEM, TEEM, ASP, and ORDERIN in place I had trouble with the Across answers. I had 'waTER' where LITER was wanted, which didn't help matters. "Get in the pool, say" took a minute because I kept trying things like "take a swim" (RIDESHARE) (see 'waTER' error above).  When I first read the clue, "Four-time Emmy winner from Coney Island, N.Y." I had no idea who it might be and I thought I was doomed to failure, but as I progressed through the puzzle, and with only ERLM in place, I somehow guessed RHEAPERLMAN. I was happy about that. In other lucky breaks, Horace and I have been watching a show on Netflix called "Ragnarok." One episode we watched featured the Loki character, which caused me to read up on him in the Wikipedia - just last night. What are the chances? I think you see where I'm going with this. I was able to drop in LOKI off the clue ("Father of J√∂rmungandr"). :)

Other CA/Ps I was KEENON include "Bunch of hipsters?" (MANBUN) - ha! I also liked "Help out with a job" (ABET) and "Ones who've split" (SECT). "Frequent book setting" is nicely misleading. "Inflation stat, for short" was similarly trixy (PSI). "Roger's equivalent" (YES) also had me wondering for a while. 

So, that's the week as I see it. Over to you, Colum. Rah rah SIS boom bah!


Friday, May 28, 2021

Friday, May 28, 2021, Andrew J. Ries

Well, dear Readers, I'm going to do something today that I've never done before: I'm reviewing the puzzle before completing it. Whaaa??? I know. Here's the thing. I'm completely stuck in the mid-west section. There are a couple of names in that area, along with a couple of tricky clues I haven't figured out yet. I've looked at it a bunch of times, but I'm still coming up blank. When it's not my turn to do the review and I get stuck, I just put the puzzle aside for a while. On review days in the past, I've either FWOE'd out, or looked up the answer. That all changes today. :) Of course, looking at the puzzle on the app while it's still incomplete is going to destroy my solve time, but que so what so what, as I believe the saying goes. YOLO.

Quite a few tricky non-QMC's in the grid today - "Building with many drafts," for one. This was tough for me because I've never heard of a BEERBAR, per se - although, I'd probably like it there. I've never heard of an ANGELPIE, either, but thanks to "'Heavenly'" in the clue, I was able to guess that one. "Got clean" (8A) was another good clue. It could refer to using drugs, or, as it turned out, using a little soap and water instead (BATHED). "Runs" for BLEEDS was similarly ambiguous. Also tricky, for this solver, was "Model's makeup, often" (BALSA). I was stuck on the lipstick meaning of makeup for a time. 

One of the few answers I was able to drop right in on my first pass was for "Brand whose famous slogan contains a double negative" (SARALEE). That's kicking it old school. I have that answer and ALBERTA to thank for my entry into that corner. The same goes for LEANER and ELENA for the northeast corner. 

And speaking of corners, one feature of the grid that was brought home to me again and again during the solve was the separateness of the sections. I'd  complete one section, then realize it didn't give me any purchase in the next. 

I thought "Cat's 'sup?" (MEOW) was very clever and entertaining. "90's groups?" for HONORROLLS was good. Also nice and trixy was "Is for more?" (ARE) -  ha! 


While there was lots of stuff I didn't know throughout the puzzle, the real trouble occurred where Bob RAE ("Canadian ambassador to the U.N.") and jazz trumpeter THAD Jones joined forces with two tricky QMCs, and the confusing (to me) "'Vice' principal?" While I did finally get DICKCHENEY, but I can't figure out why the clue referred specifically to him. Maybe I don't know enough about him.

Some of today's QMC's didn't do it for me, including the aforementioned Mr. Cheney. But I did enjoy "Ones who might use oils in a pan?" - once I figured it out (ARTCRITICS) and "Offer you might have less interest in, for short?" (REFI).

I'm going to declare my new approach a complete success. As you guessed - being puzzle solvers on the alert for this kind of thing - in the course of writing the review, I managed to tie up the last LOOSEEND and solve the rest of the puzzle. I ended up with at 39:18. With that time, you couldn't exactly say I ACED it, but I don't RIND. Now that it's done, I can ELATE


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Thursday, May 27, 2021, Barbara Lin

Today's theme answers are common noun phrases, but clued as if they were spoken with SYLVESTER's trademark lisp. So "Young woman living in a city, as 58-Across would say" is URBANMYTH (or miss). More likely, perhaps, was "Minnie's promise, as Sylvester might say it, (WORDOFMOUTH (or mouse)). I thought the southern most of the theme answers, INGOODFAITH for "Looking pretty", was a little daffy. Although never a big fan of Sylvester myself, I did pick up a few interesting scraps about him from the Wikipedia where it states that he's called "an anthropomorphic tuxedo cat" and that "his scientific name is "Felis Sapiens" - ha!

Elsewhere, the puzzle was animated by such clues as "Epitome of simplicity" (PIE), "Producer of Jacksons?" (ATM), and "Toots one's horn" (HONKS). There were also some wily clues like "Dedicated work" for ODE, "Tickets" for CITES, and "Drawn" for INATIE. Fill-wise, I thought STUPOR, TAMP, and SKITTISH were real tweets. 


On the other hand, this solver thought that both LETME, as an offer from a volunteer, and GNARLS for "Twists into deformity" landed with a bit of a fudd. But the only one that really bugged me was OCTAD

That's all folks!


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Wednesday, May 26, 2021, Will Nediger

Mr. Nediger takes us to school today, giving us a theme with a twist and some trixy clues. I didn't pay much attention to the theme while I was solving the puzzle this morning - as sometimes happens - but I vaguely assumed it was the type where the word "class" could appear with each of the words in the theme answers. However, this one added a little something extra. Each theme answer is a common compound noun, the first part of which is a noun that can be semantically paired with the word "class", and the second part of which is a word that begins with the letters "me," BUSINESSMEETING, for example. I thought the pattern could be expressed as a formula (ThemeNoun¹ + "class" + ([ME] + x)) = theme answer. (Ex. GYM(class)[ME]MBERSHIP). I'm guessing that if I tried to pull that one during a math lesson, the result would be an ominous SEEMEAFTERCLASS

Elsewhere in the puzzle, the class cutup seems to have gotten a hand in when the teacher wasn't looking, supplying amusing C/APs like "Made a peeling?" PARED, "Duty-free?" (IDLE), and "They run when they're broken" (EGGS). My favorite clue today was "Brest milk" (LAIT) - ha! 

I give extra credit to one-word clues like "Sound, e.g." (INLET), "Crow" (BRAG), and "Warp" (DEFORM) that have multiple meanings to choose from. I also enjoyed MELEE, PHENOM, and VESPA. And I do like a RANT - when it's not directed at me. :) In addition to vocabulary, another of my favorite subjects has always been literature. I was able to drop in SLED for "'Ethan Frome' vehicle." That story made a big impression on me when I first read it a hundred years ago in English class.

40A: ADA

I needed a little extra help with the clue, "Show with booths." For some reason, I had trouble associating the word 'booths' with 'show'. My first attempt produced 'fair'. Fortunately, the 'X' of the likeable HAILSATAXI ("Waves from the curb, say") cleared that up in short order. Also, I entered the answer BASES for "Diamond parts that are rounded" during the solve (why? because I must), but it wasn't until I took a second look at the puzzle for the review that I understood the clue related to baseball diamonds rather than the shiny kind. Sports has never really been my thing. Chalk it up to me being an UBERNERD. :)


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Tuesday, May 25, 2021, Kristian House and Mike Dockins

I was thinking that today's puzzle could be described more as thematic than as having a theme, but perhaps I'm putting too fine a point on it. Four answers appear to be showcasing expressions of disbelief, with varying levels of intensity, from IDONTBELIEVEIT to NOFRIGGINWAY. I didn't notice a revealer, per se. If there's something else going on, I'm afraid I missed it. 

Hear me now and believe this later, I found that the top half of the puzzle went much more slowly than the bottom half. Although all of the phrases are perfectly cromulent, none of them came to me off the clue, which put the burden on the Down answers for this solver. I'm not familiar with cartoonist William STEIG, the ABEL prize, or Carson Daly's hosting efforts (THEVOICE). Those lacunae, combined with some other northerly Downs that didn't leap to mind made my start slower than molasses running uphill in January, as my mother used to say. Once I got to the midsection, with RIP, BIGSALE, and BOW, however, I was on a roll. Truth.


I love the words HORDE, GNASH, and AGOG. On the other hand, words and/or things on which I would have VOTEDNO, given the chance, are SCAB, PRAT, and TVADS, but as they say, there's no accounting for taste.


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Monday, May 24, 2021, Adrienne Atkins

Today's theme goes top to toe bringing together two body parts - or a BODYDOUBLE - that together add up to something else entirely, giving us RIBJOINT, MOUTHORGAN (which isn't gross, but kinda seems it somehow), KNUCKLEHEAD (my favorite), and BACKLASH (which gets in by a hair - if the eyelash counts as a body part). Once I finished typing that sentence, I thought I should try to find out if eyelashes *are* considered to be body parts. I didn't spend enough time on it to find a definitive answer, but I did learn some very interesting things about eyelashes. Kneeto!

Topics-wise, one could say that the constructor and I see eye to eye. I always enjoy a library-themed clue (1A: Library catalog listing after 'author'" (TITLE)), and Author ISAAC Asimov is a old favorite. I'm also a fan of the REUSE philosophy. Waist not, want not!

Other clues that were music to my ears were "Lightly touched, as with a handkerchief" (DABBED), "Apt letters missing from '_tea_th_'" (SLY), and "Flub" for ERR. On the other hand, when filling my own lunchbox (so to speak), I prefer a PBANDc to a PBANDJ. J has never been my cup of tea. Other ASSETS include GUSHES, PLACID, and PLATEAU


I didn't need to use much elbow grease to complete this puzzle, but I did have to take a moment at 23D: when I read the "dos" in "Half of dos" as in 'dos and don'ts'. I already had the final O so I spent a little minute trying to get some form of 'no' in there instead of the correct answer UNO. The only other real hiccough was a virtual armload of abbreviations like ATL, MGRS, ISO, SPF, and UTIL. Butt, overall, I'd say the puzzle had very good bones and was a real GAS


Sunday, May 23, 2021, Jennifer Nebergall


Some, when seeing the title of today's puzzle, might let out a CRYFORHELP, but fear not, there's no actual calculation required - one need only remember various names for math stuff. (Can you tell I was a language/arts guy?) We've got:

HIGHWAYMEDIAN - statistics
ANIMALPRODUCT - multiplication

It's only five, so nothing to get stressed about. And you could figure them out without really paying attention to the mathy parentheticals in the clues. Of course, I suppose those could have helped, too, if you were a real math NERD. Also, I love how that word is smack dab in the middle of the grid. That had to be intentional.

TOAD-in-the-hole, apparently

Aside from the theme, there's lots of entertainment in the fill. I loved the clue for CATS (2019 box-office flop described by one critic as "Les Meows√©rables). Nice one. "What two Vikings have explored (MARS) was tricky! And AVOCADOS (Fruits often used in sushi) took me a while, because I rarely think of AVOCADOS as fruits. 

"Birthstone for Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez" (OPAL) was an interesting way to get all three of those women into the puzzle. And now they're in the review, too. :) Since my sister's birthstone is also OPAL, I looked up all the birthdays, and what do you know? AOC shares a birthday with my sister!

Hey, I can use YOUROCK to let you know that Italy won the Eurovision Song Contest this year with a driving rock song. They were my favorite, and I was very happy with the result. Frannie and I are already half planning a trip to Italy for next May...

And speaking of Frannie, she takes over again tomorrow. It's been a good week. Thanks for reading and commenting.

And congrats on a fine debut, Ms. Nebergall!

- Horace


p.s. When I woke up today, all the ACHY-ness of yesterday was gone. It was unpleasant, but it was also short-lived, and now - or in another 13 days or so, I can start to party like it's 1999!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Saturday, May 22, 2021, Sid Sivakumar and Matthew Stock

An interesting grid shape today and a good tough Saturday puzzle. The top left fell relatively easily, but then I moved around without any real direction, and I somehow went far too long without seeing clues like "Hoth, in 'Star Wars'" (ICEPLANET), and "Late-Triassic flier" (PTEROSAUR). To be fair, though, I wanted PTERanodon, and just left the first five letters in for a while, until I finally read "Special pawn move in chess," (ENPASSANT), which helped clear things up. 

Harold RAMIS
Looks a bit like Colum, actually. Not sure I ever noticed that before. :)

I've never heard BOOBOISIE (Portmanteau coinage for the uneducated and uncultured) before, but it's kind of amusing. And I don't use the term DONK to mean "Hit on the head, in slang." I put bONK in there and ended up with a FWOE, because, I guess, I didn't check "Touches, e.g." (IPODS). Do they still make the iPod Touch?

I have to tell you, I got my second shot yesterday (Moderna), and it packed a punch. I woke up today with sore muscles and a headache. No cold symptoms, per se, and nothing too SEVERE, but an overall malaise that was really quite unpleasant. Anyway, I did the puzzle at about 7:00, then lay down on the couch and fell back to sleep for an hour or two. I'm already starting to feel better, and I'm very happy to know that in two weeks my life can start to get more normal, but I tell you all this because I feel like I've got nothing today. Still, the show must go on.

So much I didn't know today. GENERATIONALPHA (Ones born beginning in the early 2010s), LIMAPERU (The world's largest desert capital, after Cairo, Egypt) (who knew? I think "South America" and I think "rain forest," not "desert"), ODETS ("Golden Boy" playwright), LEONES (Currency units in West Africa), APOLAR (Electrically balanced, in chemistry) (maybe in 10th grade...), LAOS (So-called "Land of a Million Elephants") (still, I wonder?), and TRINI (Certain Caribbean, informally). 

Lots of good clueing, though, too. I love "They don't hold water" for STRAINERS, "They might cut to the chase" for HEISTFILMS, and "One often sent packing?" for ASS. Heh.

Overall, a clever, tricky Saturday. Just like we like. 

- Horace

p.s. Only a few hours left before the Eurovision Final. I'm pulling for Iceland, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, Ukraine, and Moldova. Not necessarily in that order.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Friday, May 21, 2021, Sam Ezersky

This was a nice open Friday grid than ran pretty quickly for me. For 1-Across "Schooner feature," I figured MAST was too easy for a Friday, and since I didn't immediately know any of the Downs in that quadrant, it was quite a while before it did go in. I should have known ARALSEA (Victim of a 20th-century environmental tragedy), because there was one week about a year ago where I included a photo of its shrinkage at least two or three days in a row with my reviews. SCRAPPY (Small but full of fight) is a great entry, and although I had an early hunch that "bars" in "Some bars returned to again and again?" was musical, I was thinking "earworm," not THEMES

I often think it would be nice if I could be slightly more ASCETIC. Although "slightly ascetic" is probably an oxymoron. I guess what I really want is slightly more self-control. But let's not dwell on that. 

No self-control needed when faced with ONEEGG, a plate of UNAGIROLL, or a multi-course ITALIANMEAL - eat it all. :) I'll pass on the PEPSICOLA, though. Even back when I was a soda-drinker, I would rather have had Coke, Root Beer, 7-Up, Dr. Pepper, or even orange soda before I'd open a Pepsi.

I don't recognize WORSETOCOME (Prognosis that a problem has only just begun) as anything I've ever heard anyone SAY. And SUABLE (Fit to be tried) is a bit loose. BEARDCOMBS is gross.

On a happier note, the NE corner had two G&S reminders - POOHBAH, obviously, from The Mikado, and BERTHS makes one think of H.M.S. Pinafore ("True, I lack birth." "You've a berth on board this very ship!"). :)

One more puzzle in The Turn - and as Huygens says, Tomorrow better be tight! :)

- Horace

p.s. I am sorry to say that I missed two very nice features of this puzzle - a mini theme in the central answers "the MAN, the MYTH, the LEGEND," and I didn't fully grasp the beauty of "Peer of Ibsen" (GYNT). Ibsen wrote "Peer GYNT." Very nice, Mr. Ezersky.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Thursday, May 20, 2021, Trenton Charlson

First off, I want to say hello to Mr. Charlson. During this year's virtual A.C.P.T., he very nicely dropped in to CHAT at the table (virtual room) where Colum, Frannie, and I were hanging out, and I made a right ASS of myself. I've cried AARGH many times since then as I thought about the strange/rude welcome I gave him, and about all the questions I could have asked him instead. He kindly said that he looked at this blog from time to time, so I hoped to be the one who got to review his next puzzle so I could use this space to say I'm sorry. And now, here we are. Sorry I was an IDIOT, Trenton. And thanks for reading the blog. 


Now let's talk about this Thursday puzzle! The theme is SIXFEET UNDER, a show I've never seen, but my non-viewership didn't make any difference, and uncovering the revealer in the middle allowed me to figure out the two themers on the left. I had entered IFYOUgeTmydrift with only a cross or two (probably the F of LIFE, and maybe another), but I had already run into trouble with "Baby food" (PAP), so being able to move the "drift" down two spaces allowed for the correction to IFYOUCATCHMYDRI[FT]. It also allowed me to enter PARTINGGI[FT], which just had to be the answer to "Game show loser's prize." And after that, WILLIAMHOWARDTA[FT] became immediately clear. Of course, I should have thought of him right away, being the only person to hold the offices of both president and Supreme Court (chief) justice. 

Here's a question, would you rather feel MISTY or MOIST? They're pretty much the same thing, but one word sounds kind of pleasant, while the other is on many people's list of "most hated words."

When I had E_I_ for 1-Across "Seat of Oklahoma's Garfield County" I thought that another Erie had been found. Wouldn't that have been exciting? But no, it's ENID. And speaking of false starts, I caught on quickly to the trick in 61A "It's bigger than a family," but I don't know my taxonomy, so I guessed genus, and had to correct to ORDER when I got a few crosses. For the record, genus is smaller. Hopefully, this is another one of those situations where I'll learn something from a crossword.

OK, this is getting long, but I want to ask about GST before I go. The standard that I'm familiar with at the Prime Meridian is Greenwich Mean Time. Is this another standard? Does the lower-case M in the clue change something? I found a Gulf Standard Time, but that's four hours east of the prime meridian... little help?

Oh, and I should probably also mention that there are six instances of the letters "FT," for feet, extending out under the grid. I love this kind of pushing, and even breaking, the boundaries of the form. I'm the kind of guy who thinks that rules are a good idea, but that sometimes breaking them is an even better idea. Except that sometimes it's not, like when you break social rules and say to a guest that you have never met but are actually really happy to see "What are you doing here?!" ... What was that I was just saying about hoping to learn something? ... Sorry again, Mr. Charlson. Thanks for stopping in, and thanks for this fun puzzle.

- Horace

p.s. Favorite clue: Some remote power sources (AAS). Remote controls, not far-out... That had me fooled for quite some time. And "Leave nothing behind?" (STIFF) above it is also quite good.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Wednesday, May 19, 2021, Ashish Vengsarkar

Well, Dear Reader, I FWOEd today on the PREs/PENZIAS cross, but I can't complain. It seems like Arno Allan PENZIAS is a name I should be familiar with, and I'm glad that I now am. It's just one more example of me learning something from a puzzle.

DUMBO octopus

PENZIAS was instrumental in establishing the BIGBANG theory, and from that beginning at 1-Across, we move by the past, through the present, and into the future. And in the 15-letter answers containing those words - PASTONESBEDTIME, NETPRESENTVALUE, and BACKTOTHEFUTURE, the times are positioned in the beginning, middle, and end of the entries. It's all quite lovely. And then at the bottom it all ends, as TSELIOT predicted in The Hollow Men (before PENZIAS was born), with a WHIMPER.

With all that theme, I guess you're bound to end up with a bit of BRER (Family member, in rural dialect), ARN (Man's nickname that omits "-old"), OLDE (Ye ____ Shoppe), TITTLE (Dot in "i" or "j"), and SPELT (Like C-O-L-O-U-R or M-E-T-R-E). My least favorite, though, is BAAS (What do ewe say?). The clue is cute, but I really don't like the plural answer.

But I WONT complain too much about all that ju... er, less-than-ideal material. Instead I'll enjoy the theme and find even more to like in entries like SESAMEST, MOPTOP, NACRE, and ULM, the last of which always reminds me of the hilarious Monty Python skit about a composer from that town. Enjoy.

- Horace

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Tuesday, May 18, 2021, Margaret Seikel

It's a puzzle for all you cave-people who still eat lots of meat. Bangers and mash, franks and beans, beer brats ... me, I'm more of a smart dog and sauerkraut kind of guy. Meat is like a leaf blower - unnecessary.

The Sacred COD

Anywho ... if I haven't alienated you yet, read on. I probably will. :)

As a crossword theme, the cylindrical meat products hold together well. I wasn't familiar with the name LISAFRANK (Brand of school supplies known for its dazzling rainbow designs) (Is she related to Paul Frank?), but Frannie tells me that our nieces have actually given us a few LISAFRANK items, so I have only myself to blame for not knowing it.

The many seven-letter answers in the corners are all solid. MARSHAL, IRELAND, EMBASSY, MACRAME, STOOGES, MAGNETS ... all good. Ms. Seikel has thrown in several sporting answers, with NCAA, GOLFTEE, SPLASH (Reason for an Olympic diving demerit), NET ("Nothing but ____!"), and the volleyball pair of SETTERS and SPIKES. I was less sure about the pair of PANTY and "Underwear irritant, at times" (TAG). And although PHLEGM is a great-looking word, the "Cough it up!" clue made it extra gross.

My favorite mistake today was entering "Aga" instead of SAL (Khan who founded Khan Academy). Heh. Different Khans. 

Overall, a solid theme and a lot of good entries. I'd say the week is starting off well.


- Horace

Monday, May 17, 2021

Monday, May 17, 2021, Wren Schultz

 YES! A language theme! Ja, da, oui, and si – they all mean yes in one language or another. If I had to guess, I’d say German, Russian, French, and Italian/Spanish/French.


And more than that, each theme answer (and several other answers as well) contain high-value Scrabble letters. I’m guessing it’s a pangram, but since Patrick Berry told me those don’t matter, I’m not going to check. Still, It’s nice to see such nice variety in the letters.



The word ADJACENT (Next (to)) has taken on a new, amusing, usage lately – as in “word finds are crossword adjacent.” And I hadn’t ever really considered the full meaning of BURGLE (Break into with intent to steal).


SOS (…---…) makes me think of Abba, which makes me think of the Eurovision Song Contest, which, as you probably realize, takes place this week! Fire up those VPNs and tune in on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday nights. Next year, the U.S. will have its own version, so this is your last chance to get hooked “before it got popular over here.” Well… we’ll see about the getting popular thing, I guess. There was that Will Ferrell movie, but did that really do much? We saw it, of course, and enjoyed the cameos of real Eurovision stars, but did it really convert anyone who wasn’t already a fan?


There I go again, getting side-tracked. EGADS, I can imagine you saying.

All in all, a fine Monday. 

- Horace 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sunday, May 16, 2021, Joe DiPietro



Greetings, All. It’s Horace, back for another week after a string of lovely reviews from Colum and Frances. This “on one week, off two” routine has been working out pretty well so far for the three of us, but we did speak recently about how long this could/should/would go on, and my quick response was “ten years,” but who knows, really. And who knows if I’m the one who should decide even. We’ll see what happens, I guess.


But before we stop blogging, let’s talk about this unusually difficult Sunday puzzle! It’s got a rebus, which is always fun, but there are two things that are unusual about this rebus – for one thing, the rebus is always different, and for another thing, it’s hidden in black squares! AND, they’re all part of a larger theme of “words that can be paired with ‘shot.’” Whew! Let’s print them all out:




And then we have the two “Shot in the dark” clues, which are answered with UNEDUCATEDGUESS and LASTDITCHEFFORT.


Now, I normally enjoy rebus puzzles, but this one left me a bit cold. The theme didn’t seem super tight (“one shot?”), I didn’t see how the “shot in the dark” clues added much, and finally, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was some kind of commentary on this whole coronavirus/vaccination time we’re in, and from that perspective (not necessarily valid, I know), UNEDUCATEDGUESS and LASTDITCHEFFORT don’t seem particularly welcome.


Then there’s the entries like BRAH, CRUMP, REEVE, ATIT, GENL, … I don’t know. I’m guessing it’s quite a feat of construction, but from this solver’s point of view, it wasn’t SUPERDUPER.


Favorite clue - "I touched your nose!" sound (BOOP). Runner up - "First offer?" (CAIN)

See you tomorrow!


- Horace

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Saturday, May 15, 2021, Sam Trabucco

Well, I finished with one error today. I thought there were two squares which were challenging. One was a true Natick (that is, a square where you have to either know the two names that are crossing, or you have to guess at it), at the crossing of KENOLIN and VELA. I guessed this one correctly.

My mistake came at the crossing of BOWE and BRITON. This is not a Natick. The clue at 9A: Avon lady, for one, should have given it to me. Especially when I had _RITON. But all I could think of was tRITON. I don't think a woman from Avon could ever be described as a semi-immortal offspring of Poseidon, but hey, sometimes you have a blind spot.

The grid has a pleasing chunky feel to it, with large sections of 8 x 4 or 9 x 3 letters. I thought the NW corner worked the best, which is great to open a puzzle with. 1A: Event with kings and queens (DRAGSHOW) raised immediate alarms that it couldn't be about a monarchy. I'm not a huge fan of RICEWINE (too much alcohol, not enough flavor). 19A: "Dumb and Dumber" duo (SILENTBS) got me until I had most of the crosses in place. And 21A: Runs or walks (STAT) is the sort of thing that often gets me. I thought "troT" and "gaiT" first.

So, ONONEHAND, pretty good so far. On the other hand, this sort of grid lends itself to things like HEALTHSPA. I mean, sure. But don't we just call it a spa? Or DEMOUNIT. Or the answer I opened this paragraph with. Yes, it's usable, but we often don't get around to saying it even in debates.

IREALIZE this is maybe nitpicking. (And that's another somewhat suspect answer.) But I hold the Saturday up to a high standard. 

I did like TOMATOCAN and LONDONEYE. I would like to go there this coming year. Not necessarily to ASCEND that specific spot, but just to go to Europe, London, England... PC Various, as we used to say in Widener Library. Maybe somewhere I can see 24A: Dome of Notre-Dame? (TETE). That's silly. We all know that Notre-Dame has no dome. Sadly, it has no roof either.

- Colum

Friday, May 14, 2021

Friday, May 14, 2021, Yacob Yonas

After reading yesterday's blog post over, I am struck with a sense of possibly unmerited guilt. After all, who am I to pass judgement on the efforts of the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class? As they say, she who can not do, teaches. Or in this case, critiques.

At the same time, one should be true to one's aesthetics, which is why it's nice to be able to say that today's puzzle hits it out of the park. Just looking at the long answers, you have the excellent juxtaposition of BEERGARDEN (kinda wanted "biergarten," but that's fine) and RAISEAGLASS. Especially with the very nice clue for the latter. And even better, it crosses 22A: Old Forester and Old Overholt offereings (RYES). I myself take a rye as my hard alcohol of choice. But most days will find me relaxing with a beer.

In case you were wondering (as I was) what 35A: Leftovers from a doughnut, say (TIREMARKS) is referring to, feast your eyes on the attached visual example.

In the NE, 10D: "You thought wrong!" (AUCONTRAIRE) is lovely. I was uncertain when I had ____NTR_IRE just what was going to fit into that middle blank. But I trusted my crosses, and then found the French phrase, which made it all work out. 

For another nice side by side pair, look at GROTTO and SEATURTLE. Which reminds me of my honeymoon in Kauai. We went on a catamaran trip out around the Na Pali coast, and got to meet some giant sea turtles. Mind you, the guides told us that if we wanted to get up close to them, we should not swim directly at them. Hope and I followed these instructions, but all the others swam avidly towards them, scaring them away. The stupidity.

NOTUPTOSNUFF is such a great phrase. It's only been used twice in the NYT crossword, and the last was in 2006, so it feels incredibly fresh. It originates from the early 19th century in England, and does indeed refer to the powdered tobacco.

I could do without E- answers, like EMONEY, but otherwise I have little to complain about.

- Colum

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Thursday, May 13, 2021, Andy Kravis, Natan Last and the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class

All props to the Crossword Class and their teachers. I know from the one time I tried to create a crossword puzzle that it's super tough to make a smooth puzzle. On the other hand, I really prefer a Thursday to be more tricksy than today's offering.

The theme is actually very straightforward. The clues are movies whose titles pose a question of sorts, and the answers are other movie titles that answer that question in a cute sort of way. I'm not exactly sure why Dude, Where's My Car? is answered by SALEMSLOT specifically. I get that it's a car lot, but why Salem? 

I thought the best was 24A: What's Eating Gilbert Grape? [2019] (PARASITE). That's funny stuff. The other three were fine, but didn't make me smile or anything. 


There are some good answers scattered throughout the grid. ANOMALOUS is a fun answer which we don't see very frequently. And 12D: Results of flattery (EGOBOOSTS) is another good one. Probably the most surprising is 33D: More than a couple (THREESOME). I realize that this doesn't have to have a salacious context, but who can resist?

For clues I liked, how about 29D: Get a load of this! (LAUNDRY). These exclamatory clues are something that has shown up in the last few years, and I'm a big fan. And it's a nice piece of trivia at 14A: Food staple referred to as "the gold of the Incas" (QUINOA). 

Otherwise, this is a fine puzzle that I would have preferred to see on a Wednesday.

- Colum

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Wednesday, May 12, 2021, Tracy Gray

Every once in a while in the New York Times Crossword puzzle, you get the odd number. And that odd number today is 5. (Glad that worked out!)

The revealer is nestled, oddly enough (see what I did there?), in the SW corner at 67A: Alberto ___ (hair care brand) ... and a hint to 16-, 27-, 38-, 46- and 61-Across (VO5). It turns out that the name stands for "5 vitamin oils, and strangely enough was invented in Culver City, California, the home of NPR west. Not that that has anything at all to do with the puzzle.

In fact, in this puzzle, the VO5 refers to five phrases with the initials V.O. I definitely noticed the initial initial, but the second ones escaped my attention, so the revealer was something of an Aha! moment. Of these theme answers, I'm fond of a VINORDINAIRE, although I also like a vin extraordinaire, if I do say so myself. It is odd (okay, that's the last time, I promise) that Georgia has the VIDALIAONION as its official vegetable. New York's is sweet corn, a fact I knew nothing about until I googled it just now.

PANSY face

I enjoyed the pair of clues at 19A: Guadalajara gal pal (AMIGA) and 32A: Grenoble gal pal (AMIE). Cute that they chose two cities that started with the same letter. On the same international note, 4D: A slice of Italy? (SALAMI) made me smile. We enjoyed some very fine examples of that cured meat when we were over there. I liked the ones with fennel the best.

Did I know that MAHI mahi meant "very strong? I did not. I ate some in Hawaii, I feel certain. Now that I look it up on Wikipedia, I see that it's one of the fishes associated with ciguatera poisoning. This is a syndrome which Neurologists have to know about, mostly so they can pass their boards examinations. Certainly around the Northeast, it's not very common at all.

This has turned into a travelogue of Colum's deep dive into Google and Wikipedia. So it just remains for me to say that IHOPE you enjoyed your personal solve and my musings.

- Colum

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Tuesday, May 11, 2021, Kevin Patterson

During the ACPT, while sitting at a virtual "table" with Cece, Horace, Frannie, Phil, and others, we discussed that sometimes theme answers can go in the downs, but usually only if there's a good reason. Today's puzzle is an example.

Unlike yesterday's puzzle (well-spotted, oh commenters), there are five theme answers, and an additional revealer at 66A: Casual ... or a hint to the answers to the five starred clues (LOWKEY). Indeed, if you look at the referenced answers, each one ends in a typical key on modern keyboards. I did not see it coming, which is the way you want it to work, getting that "Aha!" moment. A fairly low-key aha, but there nonetheless.

My favorite of the answers was 3D: Steps taken in an emergency? (FIREESCAPE). A good answer, a fun clue. The others didn't have quite the same zing, but they worked well enough.


I'm more impressed with how smooth the puzzle is, given the density of theme material. FRANKOCEAN makes his NYT crossword puzzle debut. I just read that Don Henley of the Eagles called him "a talentless little prick" because he dared to sample Hotel California for a song. Other nice finds in the puzzle include MUSCAT, BLACKSEA, and ALLEGRO.

You know IMFINE with a puzzle that hits all the marks without too much of INRE or ESA (I remembered to leave the third letter blank this time until I had the cross). And if it contains a TWIX, well, I'm better than fine.

- Colum

Monday, May 10, 2021

Monday, May 10, 2021, Zhouqin Burnikel

On a Monday, you want a smooth straightforward puzzle, something to take the edge off after a frustrating day at work. Or is that just me? Too soon?

In any case, Ms. Burnikel always fits the bill. The acknowledged master of creating a good Monday puzzle does it again. The theme is well done: five examples of foods that end in a plural of a color. My favorite is (of course) HASHBROWNS. Nothing like 'em. When they're done right. I don't mind EGGWHITES, as long as there are egg yellows in with them. Although a meringue is pleasant enough.

I like MANDARINORANGES just fine (and it's a nice grid-spanning 15-letter answer). I'm more fond of clementines though.

For those not in the know, SPORCLE is a regular site for me. I really enjoy doing a quiz or two, and my personal knowledge of the countries of the world has taken leaps and bounds because of it. I can now fill in a blank map with all of them, although as I've said in the past, Sao Tome and Principe often slips my mind. And there are a ton of countries in Africa which have "zam" in them. Okay, two. But Zimbabwe and Tanzania are close.


I don't DIDLAPS any more. I did triathlon for a while in my late forties (only the sprint variety), and never enjoyed the swimming portion. So I got rid of it, and just do the biking and running. 

Cute that ELI and LEN are both clued as "Man's name hidden in "reliableness"." Good way to spice up those examples of 3-letter glue.

Not much else to say, except that I ducked below three minutes for the third time with this puzzle, just barely.

- Colum

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sunday, May 9, 2021, Brad Wiegmann


Hey everyone! Glad to be back this Mother's Day for another week of blogging. As it turns out, we have two mothers in the house this weekend, as my sister-in-law's family are visiting, along with their new dog. So that means we have three dogs under one year of age in the house. Asking for trouble? Not so much. Just a lot of happy puppos.

So after making egg sandos for today's honorees, I sat down to polish off the puzzle. Can I just say that this is the kind of puzzle I wish we saw every Sunday? The theme is cute (and there's a lot of it), and the clues are peppered with the sort of humor and misdirection I love. It took me longer than a typical Sunday as well, by about an extra 50% or so.

The theme is straightforward: it tells the story of the journey from pregnancy to the birth of - surprise! - twins. Although I don't suppose many mothers are surprised by carrying more than one baby nowadays. Cleverly, though, the story is told through song titles. I most enjoyed 66A: Mom's remark as contractions grow stronger? [The Ramones, 1978] (IWANNABESEDATED) for the humor, and for the song. I'm impressed that Mr. Wiegmann managed to squeeze PUSHIT and SCREAM in as well.

The fill has an unusual density of QMCs. Some favorites include 2D: Venue for trill seekers? (OPERAHOUSE), 5D: Beginning that leads to a sum? (COGITO) - that's very nice, and 60D: Wind down? (SLALOM). But my favorite for the day was 84: Sun follower? (MON) - referring to abbreviations for the days of the week.

But I also had to puzzle through other clues, such as 71D: It's broken off (SECT) - tough! 21A: More than half of humanity (ASIANS) - a nice piece of trivia. Also, I briefly considered putting in"female." How about this one? 29A: They're used mostly on corners (STAPLERS). I had no idea where that one was going.

In other news, I've never sniggled or EELED. Don't imagine that I ever will either.

- Colum

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Saturday, May 8, 2021, David Steinberg

EIGHTYEIGHT ("Number of days it takes Mercury to orbit the sun") is quite a bit fewer than 365. In Mercury years, I would AGEOUT of just about everything. :) And speaking of other planets, I looked up "Richard III" in "The Reader's Guide" not 15 minutes before starting the puzzle this morning. The play was mentioned in the current book of the sci-fi series "The Expanse" that I'm reading (it's very good, btw), so I thought I'd refresh my mind on its plot. "The Reader's Guide" entry couldn't be said to have helped me with the answer in the puzzle - which was ACT ("III, e.g., in 'Richard III'" - nice misdirection!) - but I thought it was an odd coincidence. Later, still influenced by my leisure reading perhaps, I tried "nebula" in the southwest for "Annual genre writing award" (AGATHA). I can only guess how much faster my solve time would have been if I had been reading a mystery. :)

Scanning tunneling microscope image showing the individual atoms making up this gold (100) surface.

Looking at the finished puzzle, I thought 1A looked nice and weird with the double A followed by the double L (NBAALLSTAR). When I started the puzzle, I didn't know the answer immediately, but I was pretty sure from the get-go that we weren't talking about a court of law here. There were a number of such fun attempts to misdirect the unsuspecting solver with clues like "Cheap cab, perhaps" for HOUSERED - this one beingg a little easier to spot maybe because there is no such thing as a cheap taxi cab. :) Also "Campers gear chain  for REI, "Correction for a wild pitch" for AUTOTUNE, and "They may be used in a pinch" for HERBS - I tried HandS at first.  

In other clue types I liked "Composition test" for ASSAY, ONTO for "More than suspicious of," and TIGHTEN for "Turn right, say" was also good. But my favorite today was the old standby "The old you?" (THOU) - that never gets old. I wonder if I'll ever accrue enough Earth years to AGEOUT of enjoying that old chestnut.


Friday, May 7, 2021

Friday, May 7, 2021, Brooke Husic

Today I knew just enough answers right off the clues, like APPS, ONICE, REUBEN, ACELA, FREEBIE and JANUS, to get a toehold in each section, and then I kept chipping away at the grid, until I was able to complete the puzzle in just under 25 minutes - a respectable Friday time for this solver. I'm always torn between YEARNINGS to increase my solving SPEEDS and just taking my time on an activity I enjoy. I am always happiest when I avoid FWOE-based FIASCOS


Anyhoo, to get more ONTOPIC, I liked ITSSOYOU, URBANE and, of course, NERDY. "Running apparel?" for HOSE was clever, as was "Parts of a restaurant's overhead?" (TOQUE) - funny to see 'toque' crossed with TORQUE - you go from cap to whap with the addition of one letter. :) "Lets, say" was a tricky clue for REDOS. I also liked DRIFT for "Meaning" and found "Having the same number of karats , e.g." (ASPURE) delightfully OUTOFLEFTFIELD. And speaking of the unexpected, how about the asymmetrical nature of the grid? I didn't notice it until I was reviewing the puzzle for the review.

I found CADENT for "Rhythmic" a little odd. and while I did get INSIDEBASEBALL for "Esoterica" I didn't really "get" it, if you see what I mean. My only rocky spot, was the answer ROCKIE. Our dear readers know that I am not strong in the sports category, especially when it comes to the names of sports arenas. Additionally, I wasn't sure how to spell AGUILERA, nor was I 100% on Ab ESSE for "absent, in Latin," so my no FWOE goal was briefly INPERIL, but upon mature consideration of the various options (AGUeLERA, ESSi), I settled on the REAL answer. NICEJOB!


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Thursday, May 6, 2021, Ed Sessa

As chance would have it, I am in traffic while I write about today's traffic-themed puzzle. Who knows what such a coincidence will yield? Let's start with the revealer RIGHTONRED, or "Traffic go-ahead that should be followed four times in this puzzle." The instructions are clear: when you get to the word [RED] in a down answer, you take a right at the intersection with the Across answer and enter the rest of the answer so that the complete Down answer appears in something of an L shape, CHECKE[RED]FLAG and CU[RED]MEAT are two examples. When you look at the across answers, it e-merges that they also work on their own, as independent answer - always an attraction. :)


I pretty much sped right through this one, with only one bump in the road where I tried GOESbroke before "Gomer Pyle's outfit: Abbr." (USMC) straightened me out and I realized the answer was GOESUNDER. There were some fun stops along the way including "Play by play job?" (STAGEACTOR), "A little cracked" (AJAR), "Early man?" (BOY), and my favorite "Refuse to pick up the bill?" (VETO) - ha! I also enjoyed THRUMS, SPLOTCH, and DUNNED along the way.

I apologize for the late review today - sometimes real life takes a toll. Exit. 


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Wednesday, May 5, 2021, Bryce Hwang and Rahul Sridhar and Akshay Ravikumar

So, FWOE today. I've never heard of IMGUR (Big online site for uploading photos and memes) and I mistakenly remembered the "Blue-skinned race in 'Avatar'" as NAVu. IDAHO how that happened! 

By source (WP:NFCC#4), fair use,

Today's theme is pretty clever. Despite the fact that the theme was boldly announced ("This puzzle's theme" (NUMBERS)) I couldn't make any sense of the "Like the two" part of each clue, until I could. :) And once I did, I thought it was pretty neat. A lot of answers had to be very carefully placed to make this one work. It kind of boggles this solver's mind. The numbers of the two squares that each of the themed down answers cross had to be numbers that fit the category of number described by the down answer. The answer to 2D: "Like the two 40-Across in the grid for this answer" was PRIME, and lo and behold, the two numbered squares the answer crosses are 2 and 23 - both prime numbers. Likewise with the 9 and 25 where SQUARE appears, 34 and 55 within FIBONACCI, and, perhaps slightly less trickily ODD (39, 43) and EVEN (44, 48). 

Other nice number-related entries like OCTUPLE, ONE, UNO, and maybe SERIAL, COINED, STEREO. I also liked PUPPETEER, NOTORIETY, and INSIDEOUT

All of that tricky theme content and the rest of the grid didn't suffer - even the groups of three-letter answers, while a little heavy on crosswordese (EEL and ROC come to mind) it didn't turn into a festival of acronyms, which is not too SHODDY. I give it a 10!


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Tuesday, May 4, 2021, Nina Sloan

Having just read Huygens' comment on Monday's puzzle, I'll start by agreeing that I thought today's puzzle was easier than yesterday's. Today seemed more like a Monday level puzzle, though I can't say exactly why. Whoever does the grading of the puzzles does seem to get it right in general, though. Although there are days like today when a Tuesday time is faster than the Monday, my average solve times show a steady increase throughout the week. 

A delicious puzzle theme showcasing five candies with insulting names including AIRHEADS, BUTTERFINGERS, and DUMDUMS. I don't know the origin stories of the candy names, but I'm pretty sure GOOBERS didn't start out in life to be insulting, it just happened to them.


I found other candy-related answers throughout the grid. There were Smarties like "Little bird of mine?" (CANARY), Snickers like "Sticky spot?" (NEST), real eye Twizzlers like TIEIN, and finally, PayDay: "Fit on a hard drive?" (ROADRAGE) - ha! REGALE, SPRIG, and of course, BERT added a Bit-o-Honey. :)


Monday, May 3, 2021

Monday, May 3, 2021, Ross Trudeau

A FEEFIFOFUn theme today, in which a "Fairy tale chant from a giant" is made from the tail bones of four theme answers. The full answers conjured up in my mind something of a modern tale in which a traveler, perhaps en route from SFO to AGRA, orders an ICEDCOFFEE to sip while making use of the AIRPORTWIFI, which naturally doesn't work, causing said traveler to make a wandering PATH through the various shops. The traveler ends up buying a current magazine that promises all THEINSIDEINFO and a bottle of duty-free EAUDEPARFUM for a special someone and lives happily ever after. Before the MYTHBUSTERS get all in a MIFF, they should realize I'm just bean stalking. 


I enjoyed the puzzle's two shout outs to Boston: its Liberty Tree (ELM) and the DANA-Farber Cancer Institute. ONEA always reminds me of "It's a Wonderful Life." I liked "Part of a bird or museum" (WING). DEFT is a good word. My favorite clue today: "Whopper junior?" (FIB) - ha!

And they all lived happily ever after.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Sunday, May 2, 2021, Dan Schoenholz


OK, let's get this right out in the open - I didn't really like today's theme. It just seemed a little blah. "C-Span?" for COVEREDBRIDGE. Yeah, a bridge is a span, and it starts with C, and C-Span is a thing by itself. I guess I get it, but is it enough? "G-force?" for GERMANARMY? I get it, but I'm not delighted by it. And what's an E-bond?  


Aside from the theme, I liked much about the puzzle. "WAR is mainly a catalog of blunders" is a great Churchill quote. And speaking of WAR, Frannie and I saw "The Burghers of Calais" by RODIN when we were in Calais in 2014. It's quite a sculpture, and quite a story. "Words said in passing?" (a law) is a great clue for the rather common entry AYES. And "Deliberate betrayal" is a rather odd clue for the uncommon word PERFIDY

"Father figures?" (DADBODS) and "Top supporter?" (BRA) are both amusing, and speaking of things like that, I was amused by the tameness of ARM for "Escort's offering," after another three-letter answer came immediately to mind...

DEEPER (Like Crater Lake, compared to any other U.S. lake) and TEEN (LeBron James in his N.B.A. debut, e.g.) are both good trivia, and 6-Down just put another thing onto our list of opportunities for our next trip to Stockholm. :) And speaking of... there are just 20 days to the Eurovision final!

Oh, and how 'bout "Load off one's mine?" for ORE. Cute. 

Overall, it's about what I expect of a Sunday, which is to say, it wasn't my favorite puzzle ever, but it was fine. Tomorrow, Frannie takes the reins, and I'll see you again in a few weeks. Happy Puzzling!

- Horace

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Saturday, May 1, 2021, Ryan McCarty

Rabbit, Rabbit!

Just look at that thick swath through the center of this one. Five nines and and two eights stepping down like wide stairs, pinned by nines, tens, and elevens. I don't construct puzzles, but it sure looks like an impressive feat.

I guess my favorite of the stairs is probably NUTCASES (Screwballs). It started with one you had to think about "Aid in preventing a soup stain, maybe" (TIECLASP), and ended with a laugh. But the mood changed quickly again with TINHAT (W.W. I headgear). I got that immediately, thanks to the line "... So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun / And they marched me away to the war" from "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" by Eric Bogle. Made more famous by the Pogues. See also: TURK.

But let's not dwell on sad things. Let's look instead at the humor in the misfortunes of others - like OWS (Smart remarks?) and "Where many a drive ends, unfortunately" (WATERHAZARD). Heh. 

ARM (Vaccine target) was both topical and misleading! Nice. And I loved the clue "Break" for DOMESTICATE. And speaking of clues, "Places where things are all tied up?" was funny for MARINAS. It's so true.

There were a few weirdos, like LACTEAL (Milk-producing), GOTEM ("Ha, fell right into my trap!"), and DESEX (Neuter), but overall not too much to PAY for a solid Saturday grid. 

- Horace