Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Wednesday, June 30, 2021, Christopher Adams and Adam Aaronson

It's hard to believe that it took almost 40 years for this to become a crossword puzzle theme. JENNY's phone number has been well-known and often sung by everyone who went to school in the Eighties. The only thing that would have made this more perfect is if the "nine" had been drawn out to "ni-ee-ine," but I'm not sure that would have gotten past the editors.

There are many theme answers (8), but they're all relatively short, which might have made it easier to avoid crosswordese. Sure, we haven't seen our old friend ENIAC in a while, and some might have said HUNH? to HUNH, but there's really not much trouble at all. And we get things like IMPASSE (Stalemate), the full TEALEONI, and a nice vocab. lesson in ENERVATE (Deprive of strength - not, as is commonly believed, to give strength).

You know, when I read "*One of two for the 1990s Chicago Bulls" I didn't really understand why that was used to clue THREEPEAT. I thought, are they saying that the threepeat win was just one of the two wins they had after they won the first championship? But no, I looked it up and guess what? The Bulls won three times in a row twice in the 1990s! And they probably would have won four in a row, and possibly eight, if Michael Jordan hadn't retired after the first one. 

What? Haven't I mentioned that I'm not a big fan of sportsball? It took 39 years for this theme to happen, and it took 23 years for me to understand how truly great the 1990s Bulls were. 

Here's a fun fact, the Bulls (yes, with Michael Jordan!) came to my college to do some pre-season training one year. I was in the gym with them, but I didn't actually get into any scrimmages. Heh. Honestly, I hardly knew who they were. This was pre-1990. True story.

Minitheme with ISHMAEL and SEVENSEAS?

Fun Wednesday.

- Horace

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Tuesday, June 29, 2021, Alan Arbesfeld

A Tuesday with a trick! Phrases in the form of "[Blank] in the [blank]" are re-arranged into "the [Blank] [blank]." So, "Toy with a spring, literally," is rendered as THEJACKBOX, and "Undecided, literally" is THEUPAIR. Not a bad little diversion, and there are six of them to boot! 

DYE (Batik, e.g.)

I know some of our Excel-loving solvers will enjoy DATASET (Spreadsheet figures), and everyone loves a BEANBAG (Shape-shifting seat). Do they still sell those? Or were they just a '70s thing?

It seemed like there were a lot of names in the puzzle today - ANN, PACINO, TERI, STACY, ARES, LEARY, MINETA, EARL (sort of), JACOB, TIMON, HARRIS, ESTES, and the uncommon LEY (Willy ___, pioneering writer on rocketry) and TOD (Director Browning of 1931's "Dracula"). Did I get them all?

I like how TRAY (It goes up during takeoff) and SHAY (Two-wheeled carriage) are symmetrical in the center, and right with them are HEY and LEY. MILIEU (Setting) and ELIXIR (Sorcerer's concoction) are nice words, and ASTHMA (It can take your breath away) got a good clue. On the whole, though, the theme is front and center. And sometimes that's fine.

- Horace

Monday, June 28, 2021

Monday, June 28, 2021, Pamela F. Davis

What a fun start to the week! Four HOMECHEF meals critiqued by a child. The meals get fancier and fancier as they go on, from the lowly BEETREPORT to the chocolate MOUSSECALL. I'm not sure what a "French roll" is, and it took me a while to remember that there's a thing called a "moose call" (there is such a thing, right Philbo?), but still, I laughed out loud at this theme. And I love the bonus themer SUPS (Has an evening meal) at the end. 


It played longer (4:58) than a Monday sometimes does for me, partly because of the "quote" clues for the theme answers, and partly thanks to me guessing "megafail" instead of MEGAFLOP (Epic failure) (I know, I know, the clue has "fail" right in it, but I was not paying close attention!), and "loll" instead of LAZE. It also got a little tricky in the South, with SERGE (Twilled fabric for suits), SPUMES (Sea foams), and SPOOR (Scent of an animal). Not exactly true KOFCA-esque words, maybe, but still, a few that require a deeper search in the ol' memory banks. But as we always say, we appreciate and welcome the challenge any day of the week.

My favorite clue today is "It's a crime to lie under it" (OATH). 

Fun Monday! 

- Horace

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Sunday, June 27, 2021, Ross Trudeau and Lindsey Hobbs


I've never read the Pynchon book, but today (finally!) it doesn't matter. In this puzzle, gravity works on a rainbow in the grid, pulling the colors downward, out of their Across answers. They appear in proper Roy G. Biv order from left to right, and if you solve online, the gravity-affected words are appropriately colored once the puzzle is finished! Fun!

I'm guessing this ran in June to help celebrate Pride Month, but - fun fact, the current LGBT flag has six stripes (omitting INDIGO), and the original had eight stripes (including pink and teal). But any way you stripe it, it was a colorful and enjoyable Sunday solve.

It started off strong with a fun clue for bad things - SCAMS (Rackets), and off of that the old-timey SHASTA Cola. SHASTA was founded all the way back in 1889, but do you know what soda is older? If you said Coke (1886), you'd've been right, but it wouldn't have been the one I was thinking of - Polar (1882!). It's a shameless plug for a product from my home town. :)

Anywho, how about the hilarious clue "A one and a two" for THREE. Hah! 

I like how ESOTERICA is followed by a good example of same: AZURE (Color whose name is derived from "lapis lazuli"). But being something of a skeptic, I would like to be able to see the work on this one. I'm not a professional etymologist, but I find that "lapis lazuli" was itself named for a place where the stone was collected. Both words went through Latin, as many words do, where the "lapis" part meant "stone" and the "lazuli (gen. of lazulum)" part meant "from that town," but it seems to have also more generally meant "blue," so probably it could be more simply said that AZURE comes just from the place name, and not the stone name (possibly from mistaken removal of the first letter because it was thought to be a French article). And to continue beating this poor blue horse, is it at all CONTROVERSIAL that we have this stray color word in a puzzle focussed, as it is, on specific colors? 

And while we're on the topic of etymology, I was also driven to do a little research by "Part of a religious title that means 'ocean'" (DALAI)." This does seem to be straightforwardly from Tibetan, and "DALAI lama" means "ocean monk," but why are they talking about the ocean way up there in Tibet? One source says it's because he's an "ocean of compassion." I like it.

And speaking of ESOTERICA, how 'bout BUGGYWHIP?

I noticed oddities along the way, like AWARDEE, SERENEST, EELIER, but overall, the minor ROUGH patches are smoothed by the overall colorful nature of the whole. Happy Pride Month to all.

- Horace


p.s. On the subject of Ravel, I must defer to my music major colleague. If he says he's worth listening to, I will blindly (deafly?) argue the same. As I said in the comments earlier in the week, all I know of the man is "Bolero," but I very much like the sound of "piano toccata," and someday, when I have a sound system hooked up again (long story), I'll give him another chance.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Saturday, June 26, 2021, John Lieb and Brad Wilber

It's been a really great week for the NYT crossword puzzle, in my opinion. I've had a blast solving and blogging on them. Today's is no exception.

There are five grid-spanning 15-letter answers, and each of them works beautifully. We start with the ludicrous ICOULDEATAHORSE. I seem to recall on a trip to some town in England, my older brother announcing that he was so hungry he could eat an Anglican cathedral. 

The next one, THEMUDVILLENINE is so evocative. I still remember the last lines of the poem: 

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,

But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.

I always loved this poem as a kid, especially with the shocker that he doesn't come through for the home team. As a Red Sox fan, this seemed all too familiar, and also support for the inevitable heartbreak that came at the end of every season up until 2004.

34A: Like popping bubble wrap, for many (ODDLYSATISFYING) is exactly that: an incredibly satisfying answer. I don't think I've ever seen it in the puzzle before. [Checks] - Nope, it's never been in the NYT crossword before, and I'm happy to see it here.

The last two are not quite at the same level, but still quite good. CARETOELABORATE is very much part of the vernacular, and DRIVEWAYMOMENTS applies more to me when I'm listening to, say, a piece by Ravel (Maurice, French-Basque composer, 1875-1937), such as his remarkable Le Tombeau de Couperin, a suite of pieces dedicated to friends who died in World War I. Just listen to the toccata (only in the piano version) - so brilliant.


Some good clues today include 9D: It has its limits (CALCULUS); 4D: Entirety, redundantly (SUMTOTAL); 50A: Occupied leader? (PRE).

Fun week. Tomorrow, Horace takes back over. I expect the discourse about Ravel to continue until Huygens gives in. 11:49.

- Colum

Friday, June 25, 2021

Friday, June 25, 2021, Scott Earl

Oh, that staircase triple stack in the middle of the puzzle. What a happy discovery, I'm sure, for Mr. Earl, to be able to put METOOMOVEMENT right on top of MALEPRIVILEGE. And then to finish it off with a nice twist, you get BIGLITTLELIES, the show about women trapped by the patriarchy in different ways, banding together to support each other.

Add to that DIANA Taurasi, one of the all time great basketball players; LAURA Bassi, the first woman to earn a doctorate in science (1732!!); and CELIA Cruz, and you get a nice grid tilted (for once) towards the 51%. The only examples I can see in the other direction are ANSEL Adams and NIALL Horan.

Speaking of which, thanks to Cece for assisting in this solve. She knew that one immediately, but she also got multiple long answers with very little in the way of crosses. For example, she got ICOULDEAT off of the I, and two of the long answers in the middle. As always, I'm impressed, and suspect she will one day beat the pants off of old Dad in the crossword solving department.

Funny, now that I look at it: The NW corner has an aspirational aspect to it, with LOOKINGUP and DREAMCAR, while the SE feels a little anxiety provoking, with GANGUPON, CANWETALK, and HITANERVE.

Oof. Fortunately MEETCUTES breaks up that little doom cloud.

In the area of fun clues, I like 38A: Stub hub? (TOE). Also, 32D: Hat tricks are seen in them (MAGICACTS) really threw me for a loop. I was certain that we were talking about soccer or hockey. But no. Actual tricks with hats in them. Nice.

Very little not to like today. The Turn is going great! 5:57.

- Colum

P.S. I actually really love Bolero by Ravel, even though it's not the most representative of works by the composer. If you want something else with a Spanish flair by him, try Alborada del Gracioso. 

P.P.S. And yes, I'm not getting off the soapbox until Huygens gives it a try. I've got a lot to say on the subject!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Thursday, June 24, 2021, Danny Lawson

Everybody loves a good rebus puzzle. At least if you define everybody as me. Or as "at least" me. Now I'm tripping myself with my own syntax.

In any case, I had a strong suspicion something was going on when I had PIN_ at 1D: Fool (PIN[HEAD]), only I couldn't see what I was supposed to put in there because I was parsing the clue as a verb rather than a noun. 

At 25D: Moved up the corporate ladder, say (GOTA[HEAD]), I was fixated on the possibility of "raise" going in that square, so things were stuck for a while longer. I didn't see where the other two rebuses were going to go yet, so it wasn't until I figured out the revealer at 55A: Lucy van Pelt's frequent outburst to Charlie Brown ... or how to fill some squares in this puzzle? (YOUBLOCK[HEAD]) that it all became clear to me.

To be fair, I did not really remember her saying that until I had it filled in. I was looking for "Good grief!" But that's what Charlie Brown said, not Lucy.

SHAKINGMY[HEAD] at all of these digressions.

The clue at 19A: In-flight call? ([HEAD]SORTAILS) is just the sort of fun I like to see in good QMCs. On the converse (or is it inverse?) there's 60A: One making a scene (STAGEHAND) - an excellent non-QMC. Why, we have eternally wondered, are some clues decorated with a question mark, and others are not? It seems to me that 19A didn't really need one, and 60A could have had one. It's a mystery.

We got to see this when we were last in Europe

Meanwhile, I love the quotation at 63A for TOLERANCE. It's a quality we all could use more of nowadays. I have my own biases as to which side of the political aisle cultivates it more (and perhaps is more inclined to the increase of education), but we'll leave it at that. I also love MOONRIVER, the song, the movie it was in, and the composer. 

My assignment for anyone who has never listened to Maurice Ravel - go listen to his Piano concerto in G. It's a wonder, extremely exciting, jazz-inflected, a delight. 8:29.

- Colum

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, Kate Hawkins

I love a good down theme answer puzzle, when the revealer shows you why the constructor chose to put the puzzle in that orientation. It does occur to me though, that there are likely many many potential themes that would rely on the across orientation, which likely don't make it to print because it's the standard way crossword puzzles are built.

In any case, today, our revealer comes at 26D: "Get it together! ... or a hint to the highlighted letters (SHAPEUP). And indeed, in the circles you'll find various geometric shapes hidden if you read up, within the longer theme answers. Three of the four follow the expected rule of having the hidden words cross over the theme answer words, such as in MICHAELCRICHTON, where "circle" uses the last two letters of the first name and the first four letters of the last name. The fourth, FLAVOROFTHEWEEK, which hides "oval" in just the first word, is therefore nominally not as strong. And yet it's such a great phrase that I can easily overlook it.

Interesting that two of the shapes are two-dimensional, and two are three-dimensional. I suppose in my mind I think of shapes as being different from solids, the latter referring to 3D objects. But I think I'm RUMInating too much on the subject.


In other areas, I love the phrase HOTSECOND. Does it go along with aforementioned flavor of the week? 

My favorite clue came at 67A: Is the pope Catholic? (YES). Not in fact a QMC, here. Just a straight up question. I'm not sure I've ever come across such a thing before. But it made me laugh out loud.

I also liked 57A: Where Boxing Day comes before Christmas, in brief? (OED). Way to spice up an acronym. Sadly, the same can't be said for RFID.

Anyway, the reorientation mixes up the HUMDRUM run of standard crossword puzzles (far from humdrum, in fact, but you get the idea), and is welcome. Nice puzzle!

- Colum

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tuesday, June 22, 2021, Matt Frederick

After entering SEAHORSE at 22D, I couldn't help but wonder what "lants" were, and why they might be found in the sea (see 27D: Deck protectors - SEALANTS).

Well, enough of that silliness. This is the kind of puzzle where I welcome the circles, at least in the CROSS / ROADS in the center of the grid, because otherwise you might miss the hidden words entirely. There are a SLEW of these letters, which makes for a tough job constructing, as each letter is triple-checked - that is, part of an across answer, a down answer, and the diagonal answer.

It's a fun pair of crossing answers, if a bit dated in terms of the classic rock songs referenced. I like that the STAIRWAY to HEAVEN goes up, while the HIGHWAY to HELL goes down. 

I felt there was a nice BOSTON Red Sox vibe going on in the puzzle, what with the reference to Fenway Park, the hidden reference to the Citgo sign with NEON, and then the ERRORS and LEAGUE hiding in the southeast corner. 


Other answers I enjoyed include FOREWARNED and RAVEL, although I'd prefer the clue to have referenced the composer of Gaspard de la Nuit. The cyclops EYE brought to mind the excellent clue from Sunday (c.f. the review of that day).

Finally, 75A: Places for toasters (DAISES) brought a smile to my face.

- Colum

Monday, June 21, 2021

Monday, June 21, 2021, Jacob Stulberg

Good morning! Just to wrap up yesterday's events, I had an unknown destination for dinner planned - turns out it was Andrew's Burger Shack, in Slingerlands, New York. Outdoor eating on a lovely night, typical diner food (burger, onion rings, shake). Sad to have to say goodbye to Phoebe, but so lovely to have had the weekend with both girls and our family whole under one roof again.

I solved today's puzzle last night, in order to get the review out on an early basis. The theme is nicely done, especially since I understand it's tricky getting 14-letter answers into grids, and this one has four of them. The revealer comes at 52A: "Let's put things into perspective" ... or a title for this puzzle (ITSALLRELATIVE). Each of the other three theme answers are of the form ____ER than ____. They're all fine examples of the form. I've always liked HOLIERTHANTHOU as a phrase. Although I don't really use it all that often, come to think of it. I'm sure there are plenty of other phrases that could work, but these are three good ones.


There was some difficulty getting started, which is unusual for a Monday. I put AMBLE and UTAH in off the clue, then got ADDUP and ENS. But I had to think a bit to get other answers, especially with the __DT___ at 5D. I did not expect to see PADTHAI there, but it's a great entry.

The rest of the puzzle was more in line with a typical Monday. Answers I enjoyed include GLUG, and CHEF and YUM so near to each other. I guess we're never likely to see the end of OGLE in the puzzle, but I think today's clue is inapt for the creepiness associated with the word.

It's a fine Monday. 3:04.

- Colum

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Sunday, June 20, 2021, Michael Lieberman


Happy Fathers' Day everybody! I have had a lovely weekend so far, starting with the surprise of Phoebe showing up out of the blue Friday evening. Cece's already home from college, so I had my whole family with me. Today's been great so far, with breakfast sammies after a nice run. 

And an outstanding Sunday puzzle to boot. I had a lot of fun with the theme, which takes words and splits them up, thus creating silly phrases. My favorite was 78A: Actress de Armas writes "Mr. Gas" and "Ms. Rag"? (ANAANAGRAMSGRAMS). But I also thought APPAPPRAISESRAISES was apt and CONCONFUSESFUSES

If I have a complaint, it's with the last theme answer at 112A: Doctor acquires antibiotics? (PROPROCURESCURES). Why "pro" for doctor? I mean, we are professionals, but it seems oddly imprecise, considering how careful the rest of the answers are. Just to be clear, I recognize how silly it is for me to raise this issue, but that's my right as blogger in charge today. Ha!


Meanwhile, so many excellent clues today. Let's start with maybe the best in a long time, in my opinion. 65A: One seeing things with a critical eye? (CYCLOPS). Oh, yes. I love the syntax here, with the perfect "a" and how the eye is "critical." 

109A: Ones making you duck down? (EIDERS) is another example of an excellent QMC. In the other camp, there's 70D: Like fuschia and turquiose (MISSPELLED) - definitely took me a moment to see what the clue was doing. And in another school of clue styles, there's 25D: Skip it (STONE). I can't remember if we came up with a name for this kind of clue, but exhortatory seems appropriate.

I've never seen the term THIRSTTRAP before, but the concept seems clear. I will refrain from posting an example on this blog. 

I'm neither a fan of CAMPARI (sorry, Horace and Frannie) or guacamole (sorry, my family), but I agree that CUMIN can go well with just about everything.

Here's looking forward to a good week.

- Colum

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Saturday, June 19, 2021, Sophia Maymudes

I'm not quite sure how to acrononimize my solvsperiance today. Like many things things in life, it's complicated. At about the 25 minute mark, I had completed all but the northwest corner. As I sat considering various wordpportunities, Horace called out from across the porch that he had any empty square or two in the same section,. We decided to join forces, as in days of old when we had only one subscription to the puzzle. It turned out that the problem answer for both of us was 15A: "Person who will do anything for you, in modern slang." Of course, dear readers, you know that a crossword puzzle clue cannot be a problem in only one direction. If either of us had been sure about more of the Down answers in that section, such as Villa RICA de la Vera Cruz, "Mideast port" ADEN, or "Big inits. in home security" (ADT), the answer, RIDEORDIE, would have been more obvious. 

Unfortch for me, even after Horace and I sorted out the above, I did not get the app's congratulatory message. Turns out, I had entered AWAkE for "With it." I'm not familiar with the show "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" so as far as I was concerned, kOSA was a perfectly cromulent first name for detective Diaz, but I suppose, all things considered, ROSA is a little more cromulent.

Similarly, while I twigged to the trick of the clue for "Something released while skydiving," I first guessed 'endorphins'. The correct answer was ADRENALINE. BTW, PASTIME has only one S?!?! When did that happen? 

Interesting bit about NOEL being derived from the Latin for 'to be born.' Apt! I also liked "Take pregame shots?" for TRASHTALK


And speaking of trash talk, I'm not a big fan of 'quote' clues, of which this puzzle had ALOT ("You caught me", "Lemme see!", "Can't argue that", "See what I'm sayin'?"), mainly because I don't have the TRIX of guessing the intended equivalents. 

Today I pass the blog baton to Colum. I look forward to a XANADU of reviews next week.


Friday, June 18, 2021

Friday, June 18, 2021, Daniel Larson

The constructor takes full advantage of the 15 x 15 grid today with seven grid-spanning Across answers and one central top-to-bottom Down answer. I know that for at least one solver the layout of the puzzle brought to mind famed constructor Martin "Cord Wood" Ashwood Smith, thanks to the top and bottom triple stacks. 

As chance would have it, I just finished reading a Bill Bryson book called, "I'm a Stranger Here Myself." One result of which was a familiarity with his other book titles, so one Across (AWALKINTHEWOODS)was easier than it might have been for this solver. I didn't get the second long Across answer off the clue ("Give a scolding"), but I like the expression CALLONTHECARPET. The third long Across answer, however, I knew immediately (THEBACHELORETTE). Horace's Dad is a fan of the show so, having discussed it with him, I know a thing or two about it. Oh, and I knew the long Down, "1960s spy series" (THEMANFROMUNCLE). My Dad was a fan of that show.  

I didn't know any of the long answers in the bottom section right off the clue, but my favorite, once I got it, was CARETOELABORATE. I first tried 'bemorespecific' but it was a letter short. I like to think that the speed solvers, if they had even considered that answer, would immediately and automatically have known the number of letters in 'bemorespecific' and would have dismissed it out of hand, without even trying it. Whereas I typed it in, and then saw it was too short, then deleted it. Multiply the time those actions took by 100 and you'll have the difference between my solve times and those of someone like Eric Agard or Tyler Hinman. The multiplication factor of 100 has been scientifically proven and authenticated by Dr. Fill. :) 


I am perhaps going on too long about the long answers ; I don't want to give short shrift to the fine shorter fare including "Look after" (MIND), "Lucky strike" (ORE), "Pick up" (DETECT), and "Grand" for THOU. How about "Something you're not likely to fork out?" For some reason, I instantly guessed SOUP. It's always interesting to me to find out which trick answers seem obvious to people and which more resemble enigmas wrapped in blankets covered by a cloud. 

I ended, after 18 minutes and 18 seconds, at BEEFLOIN. I had trouble parsing both the clue ("Cut off the back") AND the answer. I kept reading the answer as if it started with the word BEE, but what, I ask you, is a FLOIN? It still looks funny to me even after I know what it's meant to be. Another answer that was funny in a different way was 3D: "Pub container". I've enjoyed many a glass of ale in my time, but never knew I was drinking out of an ALEGLASS. Not that it particularly matters what I drink my ale out of, as long as I get to drink it. :)


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Thursday, June 17, 2021, Blake Slonecker

Sorry the review is so late today - I had bigger fish to fry this morning. 

Each set of circled letters in a quadrant of the grid contains the name of a fish that dangles off the end of a noun or noun phrase in the shape of a FISH HOOK. The hooks bend left or right and are attached to "rods" of seven or five letters. So "Xbox or PlayStation" is GAMECONSOLE with SOLE in the circled letters. The complete kettle of fish includes PIKE, HAKE, and SHAD hooking to the left. The four fish are in good company with a FROG, DAM, and OARS floating around. So, maybe not the trickiest Thursday theme ever, but circle puzzles have their plaice.  

PERMS for "Waves to a hairdresser" was creel nice, but the catch of the day, for this solver, was "Chase vehicle, once, in brief?" (SNL) - ha!

I don't like to carp, but I'm not a big fan of the recent clue trend that styles a "Modern pic" as an INSTA. Maybe I'm just out of tuna with the outside world. And speaking of, I was shocked to learn from the puzzle that AROD and J.Lo split up. Does pledging one's trout mean nothing in today's world? At least it sounds like they'll remain chums.


P.s. What was the Nicholas II's favorite fish? – Tsardines.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Wednesday, June 16, 2021, Finn Vigeland

Today's theme is entertaining thanks to its revealer. The theme entries are movie titles in which the directional element has taken a turn, or has been MISDIRECTED. The movie "My Left Foot" becomes MYRIGHTFOOT, for example. Another is WESTOFEDEN, instead of "East of Eden." I knew something was up when I tried to enter "Knives Out" at 25 Across, but ran out of squares before I ran out of letters. My first instinct was to glance up to the top of the app to see if today was Thursday - thinking of a possible rebus situation - but it was Wednesday, and I had two squares after KNIVES so a straight up one-square rebus seemed unlikely. It's nice that Mr. Vigeland was able to include four different kinds of directions in the the theme answers: right/left ; in/out ; west/east ; up/down.

I enjoyed the pair of 'burning' clues at 1A and 1D ("Items purportedly burned outside the Miss America Pageant in 1968" (BRAS) and "Item needed for burning, once" (BLANKCD) - fun misdirection in the latter. 


I feared things were taking a turn for the worse at the cross between 10D "_____ Jackson, a.k.a. Ice Cube" and 23A: "Rapper Megan ____ Stallion" because I didn't know either of the missing name parts, but in the end, only the letter E seemed to make sense in both directions, so I went with it (OSHEA / THEE). 

My star board today includes the word STYMIE and the clues "It made the peseta passé" (EURO) and "Follower of smart or bad" (ASS) and "Word with luck or waiter" (DUMB) were right up my alley. I can also re-port that I love a tater TOT. Come to think of it, no matter how you slice it, I enjoy a potato. 


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Tuesday, June 15, 2021, Owen Travis

Mr. Travis brings a magic touch to today's theme answers: the ends of three noun phrases represent legendary objects from the Harry Potter series, WRITTENINSTONE, OPERACLOAK, BUBBLEWAND, the set of which is, apparently called the DEATHLYHALLOWS. Is that right? have read the Harry Potter series, but it was a long time ago and many details have faded. 

Speaking of magic, there were a couple of fun clues that conjured up a chuckle including "Where something unpleasant may stick" (CRAW) and "Something you might trip on" (ACID) - ha!


A typo in my answer at 27D: "Eleanor" RIGBY almost spelled disaster for this solver, but luckily I caught it before completing the grid. 

The only C/AP I thought could use a little pixie dust was DIRE for "Warning of disaster." Otherwise, I found fill like CHAP, SHADE, OUST, MAGMA, and OOMPA quite bewitching. 


Monday, June 14, 2021

Monday, June 14, 2021, Andrea Carla Michaels and Doug Peterson

Today's puzzle offers five examples of how to GOYOUROWNWAY. You can eat CURDSANDWHEY, appreciate art by AIWEIWEI, and say ANCHORSAWEIGH en route to ZIMBABWE - all supporting the notion that there is no one true way. :) 

"Like Shakespeare's feet?" (IAMBIC) made me smile, as did the old chestnut, "Something you can always count on" (ABACUS). I find the expression "The ___ of one's existence" (BANE) crops up a lot in my life. 

WATUSI ("1960's dance craze") is a real blast from the past. Also from the past, but with more modern applications, we have Jules VERNE and UNIX. I like the term WIIMOTES. It works on so many levels. Fill-wise, ASWIRL, SNOOZE, and LAX are nice. 


The clue "Place to be pampered" made me think of a Simpson's episode ("Fear of Flying") in which Bart is apparently unfamiliar with the word in the DAYSPA sense, and is concerned about getting wrapped up in the commercial product. 

The constructors and I come to a parting of the ways at GREW for "Increased, as the pot" but it didn't get in the way of enjoying the puzzle. 


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Sunday, June 13, 2021, Stephen McCarthy


At the virtual A.C.P.T. this year, we met a Canadian who has become a virtual (so far) friend (Hi Philbo!). I thought about him while solving today, and knowing that he'll probably be reading this review will keep me from trotting out all my Canadian slurs and jokes. You know, names like Canadia, America's Hat, and Cold Mexico. You won't be hearing any of that today!

Today's Canada-themed puzzle displays lovely mirror symmetry and a nice pattern, and if you squint, the central black squares look something like a leaf. They also, to me, look a little like a one-legged chicken staring straight ahead and flapping its wings, but for the purposes of this review, and in the continuing effort to keep all disparaging comments to a minimum, let's all agree that it's a maple leaf.

In the word part (I'm guessing this is the first time "the word part" has been used in a NYTX review) we find the lovehly theme of Canadian things that contain the consecutive letters "eh," which is one possible spelling of the National Interjection.

And speaking of, I'm sure you all know the story of how Canada got its name - the founders put scraps of paper with the letters of the alphabet on them into a toque, and then someone chose from it and called the letters out - "'C,' eh, 'N,' eh, 'D,' eh." 

But in all seriousness, I very much enjoyed this puzzle. I thought the spirit of the cluing was smart, lively, and fun. "Pigeon English?" was a fantastic clue for COO, for example, and how about "Leader of the house?" for USHER?! "Mettle that may merit a medal" (HEROISM) was cute, "Words at an unveiling?" (IDO) was great, "Level or bevel" for TOOL shows a playful spirit, and I also really liked EARSHOT (Range within which you can answer the question "Can you hear me now?"). Those three central Downs - ELECTRICAL, TATOOINE, and ECHOLOCATE (Be batty, in a way?) were all strong, and there were several other fun entries that I will leave for you to discover.

Bonus Canada material was worked into "Newfoundland, e.g.: Abbr." ISL, "Québec's LAC St.-Jean," "Canuck, e.g., for short" (NHLER), and possibly ACTS of Parliament.

I'm not entirely sure what Mr. McCarthy is referring to with the answer TABLEHOCKEY (Two-player game invented in Toronto), but when I was young I played a lot of games on my brother's Bobby Hull table-top hockey game. Good times.

In addition to the Canadianisms, the puzzle also has some Mexican entries, like MUCHACHO and QUINCEANERA. Which reminds me of a joke - Q: What do Canada and Mexico have in common? A: They both border on stupidity. 


In all seriousness, this was one of the most enjoyable Sunday puzzles I've done in quite some time. It's a debut for Mr. McCarthy (congratulations!), and I really hope to see his byline again soon. It was a great way to end my week.

- Horace

p.s. I was going to post a photo of spider eyes, but they were all too disturbing for me to look at long enough to copy and paste, and really, nobody wants to see that.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Saturday, June 12, 2021, Brooke Husic and Brian Thomas

I dropped in BRIDE (One with a train, maybe) and then "firework" for "Stick around on July 4?" (SPARKLER) and I was off and running! Well, in the NW anyway. THAT section was done in a flash, but one of my entries - RERELEASEs (Like albums that include bonus tracks, often) fits that clue, but not the cross, a fact I did not notice until forced to do so.


But long before my FWOE, I had turned on the puzzle. I think it started with AUTOMAKE (Lincoln), which rubbed me the wrong way. AVERS, ATA, and EKES didn't help things, and the "Prefix with -graph" clues were just trying too hard. TELE is fine, but TRIgraph? It's three letters spelling a single consonant, vowel, or diphthong sound. Took language courses all my life and never heard anyone say that. I know, I know, it's Saturday...

Things picked up in the middle with the gimme HESDEADJIM ("Star Trek" catchphrase), but EASINGOUT (Carefully exiting a parking space, say) seemed a little forced, and even CITADEL (Acropolis, e.g.), which is a good word, annoyed me slightly because I'm not sure temples can be called CITADELs, even if they are on high ground dominating a city. Sure, it was once used as an arsenal, but that led to its near destruction and is not really a great thing to think about either.

I entered jASMine instead of BASMATI (Fragrant rice), which led to pENniEs for "Very low stake?" (TENTPEG), and then quite a bit of difficulty in that section. The TENTPEG clue, by the way, is cute. I checked to see if "tentpeg stakes" was a thing in poker before realizing that it was just a joke about actual tent pegs being driven into the low ground. Heh.

PERSIMMON (Fruit that's a major Chinese export), ROBYNFENTY (First and last name of Rihanna) (when I first read this, I thought maybe Rihanna had the same first and last name), and ACE (Asexual, informally) were all interesting, but it was too late. I like this puzzle better the more I look at it after the solve, but while it was happening I did not enjoy it. And like Darcy, "My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding -- certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offenses against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost, is lost forever."

Of course - spoiler alert! - he did change his mind. As I said, the more I look at it the more I find things to like. I hope your solve went better from the outset.

- Horace

Friday, June 11, 2021

Friday, June 11, 2021, Matthew Stock

TOPSTORIES this morning: INDIA Finds Water on Moon!, RAMI Malek won Best Actor!, NIKE and Victoria: Twins? Or Actually the Same Person?! GIMME that mic ... TAPTAP ... Is this thing on?

I'm no zoologist, but to me that looks like two horns.

I enjoyed this puzzle. I wouldn't say I literally DIED, entered Nirvana and found INNERPEACE, but it was definitely better than just OKAPI. It was ACES!

I wonder if they rushed to publish this one before MEDINA Spirit is disqualified for testing positive for drugs? Well... I guess they could have fallen back on the ol' Tone-Lōc classic. 

Lots of fun stuff in here. NERDALERT crossing DATAFORMAT was apt. EDELWEISS ("Blossom of snow," in song) always brings a smile. LOCAVORE, MEANSTREETS, TWEEN, PAWNED, DIDDLY (Start to squat?), DISOWN... lots of good stuff.

Did you read that article in the New Yorker recently about French TACOS? It's a new fast food that is, apparently, nothing like a real taco. I haven't had one yet, but Frannie is determined to find a purveyor the next time we're over there. It kind of sounds like a cross between a fajita and poutine. Seems to me like you'd FEELIT for hours.

I went through this fairly quickly, finishing in 11:23, but I'll leave it to the real PACESETTERS to leave their times below. 


- Horace

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Thursday, June 10, 2021, Sheldon Polonsky

First off, I liked the grid with its two plus signs in the middle. For some reason, that kind of little detail puts me in a good frame of mind right off the bat.


Another thing that happened right off the bat was that I made a couple of bad entries: "fish" instead of KART ("Go" follower) and "road" for SACK (Hit the ____). RENO (First female U.S. attorney general) quickly fixed the first one and SAFFRON (Most expensive spice in the world by weight) the second, luckily. 

The theme today of changing an "air" sound to an "or" was fairly amusing. For the first one, RENAISSANCEFOUR (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael?), I first tried "fare" at the end, thinking it might be a spelling/homonym thing. I wonder now if they were trying to trick us with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thing. Weren't those their names? Anyway, MUSICALCHORES (Polishing the chandelier in "The Phantom of the Opera" and laundering uniforms in "Hamilton"?) set me straight on the first one, and the theme actually helped me to figure out the third one - NOTIMETOSPORE (Result of a poorly planned Invasion of the Body Snatchers?). I'm not really sure what that clue or answer actually means, though. Maybe it's been too long since I saw the movie. I remember the bodies in those big plant-like things, but I don't remember much about the role of spores.

I don't remember much about the movie The Bad News Bears either, but I did remember the name and that's all I needed for THEBADNEWSBORES ("I'm tired of all this negative media coverage"?). 

In non-theme, I very much enjoyed TANTAMOUNT (Equivalent), OSIRIS (God depicted wearing ostrich feathers), and SPARSE (Meager) (I tried "scAnty" here), and the good trivia in "Name that derives from the Hebrew word for 'earth'" (ADAM). Some might quibble with entries like USERS, ACR, and possibly ANTRUM, but I think the good outweighs the bad by a good margin today.

Congratulations on a Thursday debut, Mr. Polonsky.

- Horace

p.s. I looked for an "OHIO" image of John Madden circling the confluence of the Monongahela and the Allegheny on Sunday Night Football, but I came up empty. Anybody else remember that magical TV moment?

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Wednesday, June 9, 2021, Byron Walden

Today we find four less-than-desirable stereotypes, each on their own perch. A BACKSEATDRIVER, the COUCHPOTATO, a STOOLPIGEON, and an ARMCHAIREXPERT. I guess I've heard of an ARMCHAIREXPERT ... wait! Maybe I'm being one by writing this blog. And I guess if I'm honest with myself, I've also been a BACKSEATDRIVER, although Frannie would probably say that I'm more often a "passenger seat driver." STOOLPIGEON is mostly reserved to crime movies, but COUCHPOTATO ... well, now, I think we've all done a little too much of that in the past 15 months, haven't we? But we're coming out of it! :)

Mauna LOA
I've written the name so many times. How did I not know it is the world's largest active volcano?

After dropping in MACCHIATOS (Espressos "stained" with a bit of milk), VELVEETA (Kraft product), and BARBARELLA (1968 Jane Fonda sci-fi role), I thought we might be looking at some kind of double-letter theme in the Downs, but SOLEMNLY (How presidents swear when taking the oath of office) put an end to that notion.

There were, however, a couple mini connections like ADIA (Sarah McLachlan hit that's 51-Down spelled in reverse) and AIDA, and ELON (Musk of 45-Across) and TESLA, and the pair of "Courtly titles" SIR and LADY. It seems like a connection could also have been made between VAPE and ECIGS (Modern heath risks, for short) - or is vaping different from e-cigging? 

Interesting clue for ULNA (Bone on the pinkie side of the forearm), and "De-tailed detail?" for SPEC was too clever by half, as my mother-in-law used to say. (The "de-tailing" is the removal of "ification" from the answer). IRIDESCES (Glistens with shimmering colors) was lovely, but I was a little surprised to see TIREDBLOOD (Condition better known as anemia). I would have thought that TIREDBLOOD would be seen as pejorative these days. Of course, I would also think that of LIONHUNTER.

In the end, a fine Wednesday. Solid theme, unusual entries, and some interesting clues. Sounds a little like yesterday's review, I guess, but it's probably best for me to not think about how every review I write is going to have similarities. Or is it? Every day we fill in a 15x15 grid. You'd think it would get old, but it never does. 

- Horace

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Tuesday, June 8, 2021, Christopher Adams

Did anyone else notice that the New York Times website (and with it the crossword) was down this morning at around 6:00am? I did. CNN was down, too, and a couple other sites I tried. It came back by 7:00am or so, but by that time, the window I normally use to do the puzzle and get the review up had passed. But I'm here now, so let's do this.


The theme today made me chuckle. An H is inserted in the middle of a two-word phrase, and the result is clued wackily. The Paris Metro is transformed to a PARISHMETRO, or, an "Urban area around a church district?" And the old "Tennis anyone?" becomes TENNISHANYONE (Suggestion to friends on when to meet for brunch?). And speaking of "Tennis anyone?" there's an interesting write-up of the phrase here.

The puzzle played on the hard side for me for a Tuesday. I don't know NIECY NASH or NASH NIECY from Adam's off ox, and INTERIM came verrrrry slowly. I was thinking pseudonym instead of PERSONA with "Slim Shady, for Eminem," and not being real math-y, DERIVATIVE (Cosine vis-à-vis sine) took several crosses. Also ZOYSIA. Even STEVEYOUNG took me far too long. I think maybe I was rattled by the outage. Did I mention the outage?

Overall I enjoyed the challenge, I was entertained by the theme, and I thought there were plenty of interesting non-theme entries. Thumbs up!

- Horace

Monday, June 7, 2021

Monday, June 7, 2021, Erika Ettin

Today's theme is ROLLWITHIT. That is, take the last word of the theme answers and put "roll" with it. Eye roll is strong. Forward roll I'm less sure about. Is that a somersault? California roll is sushi, and I'm on board with that. But what's "camera roll?" I've been working in photography since the 1980s and I'm still not 100% sure what's meant by camera roll. Is it film? Is it said more in the movie world? I don't know. I do know I score the theme at 50%. Not IDEAL.


But all was not MISERY. We've got some language-y answers in CHERI (Paris sweetheart) (I tried "amour" at first), PLAYA (Spanish beach), and FELIZ. And does MEOW qualify as a different language? :)

I would have said that Singapore was actually part of the MALAY peninsula, not that it was below it, and Wikipedia appears to back me up on that, but I guess technically it is an island, so maybe it doesn't really count as being part of the peninsula? I think Cape Cod is technically an island now that that canal is there, so do we call Massachusetts the land to the west of Cape Cod? I know, I know, not really an apples to apples comparison ... but I'm going to ask my brother who's living in Singapore about the MALAY peninsula the next time I talk with him, and if I remember, I'll report back to you about it.

Puzzles can bring up so many questions, right? At least for NERDS like me. :)

Congratulations to Ms. Ettin on a NYTX debut. Even though I trashed the theme a little, it was ELSE OKS by me. 

- Horace

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Sunday, June 6, 2021, Robyn Weintraub


Is it Sunday already? I've been having so much fun reading the reviews by Frannie and Colum that I lost track of the days. But wow, what a way to start my week - not only one of my favorite constructors, but one of my favorite rarities, a themeless Sunday! I'm beaming FROMEARTOEAR

If I had to choose, which I don't, I'd say he was my favorite Python.

Just as we've come to expect from Ms. Weintraub, it's a lovely, open grid with fun entries and clever clues. Right off the bat at 1-Across we get misdirection. With many graduations around this time of year, "Earners of credits" made this solver think of students, not ACTORS. And after that we find "Take sides?" (EAT) and "Go out to get some juice?" (POWERNAP). Nice.

SCAMPERS (Emulates a chipmunk, say), on the other hand, was on point. We've got chipmunks all over the place here, and that answer is apt! I'm not familiar with the "Alabama slammer," but I like the name, and I'm not against AMARETTO

"Fuse" took me forever to understand as UNITE. It didn't help that I am so unfamiliar with the details of the Harry Potter world that even with D_RSLEY filled in, I didn't know how to finish it in to make his adoptive family name.

On the other hand, MELLOW ("Have You Never Been ____," #1 album for Olivia Newton-John) went in without crosses. Not more than a week ago, I heard that on the car radio while listening to WJIB. My brother-in-law likes to joke that the call letters stand for "Worst Junk In Boston," and while it's true that they (or "he," really, because there's only one DJ) play a lot of unusual recordings, the list includes many old gems. If you're within range, give it a listen sometime. I guarantee you'll hear at least one old chestnut, and something you've never heard before.

Moving on - while I like the phrase RETAILTHERAPY (Shopping in order to improve one's mood), I don't support the activity. Rampant consumerism, waste, etc. etc.

There's so much I could talk about today, but I don't want to make this too long. Why don't you TELLUS what you liked best? 

- Horace

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Saturday, June 5, 2021, Peter Wentz

Today was going along great until a microplane and my thumb created a bad combination. Now I'm typing with nine fingers because my thumb is wrapped in a thick pad of gauze. Otherwise, it's a lovely day, and the Saturday puzzle was a fun solve, once again with Cece.

It's really a perfect day for GAZPACHO, given the heat index, and that answer along with POPASHOT made me feel in a Summer mood to start the solve. I haven't played Battleship in yonks, but I enjoy a good game of cribbage, which also uses a PEG or two. Horace, we need to renew our rivalry. It's been too long since we've been able to be face to face.

And speaking of faces, I liked the pair of clues at 33D: Spot on a face (PIP, referring to face cards) and 9A: Bad spot for a date (PIMPLE). That's some nice playing around with expectations. My other favorite clue was 43A: Sta4nce, for instance (REBUS). The four is in stance, thus, "for instance." Although perhaps it should have been "Sta4nce, for for instance."

The British REGALIA

There are some great long answers in the grid, such as BLACKSABBATH (not my favorite kind of music, but it's a good entry) and 38A: Climactic court moment (MATCHPOINT) - Cece got that off of the MA____. That last one has its own minitheme with 34D: Cause for a replay (LET). 

Wait, I just remembered another good clue! It's at 10D: It won't react well (INERTGAS). Indeed it won't. Very nice.

Why is this puzzle not quite as lovely as yesterday's? It's a personal taste sort of thing, I guess. SACBEE is an odd thing to find on a Saturday, and perhaps not even necessary with a little work in that corner. INARUG is a peculiar partial. These are small things, but when you're operating on a high level, the bar is raised. Or perhaps your hoist by your own PETARD.

- Colum

Friday, June 4, 2021

Friday, June 4, 2021, Nam Jin Yoon

Cece and I solved today's puzzle together on our porch in the lovely late Spring weather. I am such a fan of screened porches. I wish we'd had the ability to build one on our house earlier in our Albany existence. But then, there's no use in looking backwards like that. Enjoy what you have while you have it!

And we certainly enjoyed today's puzzle while we were solving it. There were some uh-oh moments early on when we had next to nothing in the NW and N sections. JAWS was our first entry, but the mistaken Jovial at 5D: Cheerful and self-confident (JAUNTY, much better) shut that down.

Fortunately, the center W section opened things up. I am particularly fond of the clue and answer at 40A: Small organic food producer (HONEYBEE). I love this sort of clue, making you think it's talking about some type of local farm, when in fact it's referring to an insect. Also nice in this area is 51A: Honor ... or a goner (TOAST). The rhyming touch is sweet.

EURYDICE is such a great entry, both in terms of the Greek myth involving Orpheus (a main character in the Sandman comic books, coming out some time soon as a series on TV), and because it looks good in the grid. But we had to move into the S section to gain further traction.

George TAKEI

54A: Space out? (ESCAPEPOD) is good, but not great. I really wanted ESCAPEkey, as if it were a way out and "space" referred to a computer keyboard. But that's definitely worse than the actual answer. But this corner had three very nice stacked 9-letter answers, in addition to maybe my favorite clue of the puzzle at 48D: Cars for cats, say (TYPO). Hah! Oh, by the way, does Netflix still do DVDS? And what are those things anyway?

We worked our way north from there, ending in the NW, where we had started. I'm not a fan of things like SPELTOUT. Using Britishisms feels like a cheat, even if it allows for the other excellent triple stack of 9-letter answers. INEEDANAP seems like it comes up most weekends nowadays. DONTJUDGE is good, and 18A: A child who's lying might make one (SNOWANGEL) is very nice indeed.

So, a fine middle puzzle in the turn. Great week so far!

- Colum

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Thursday, June 3, 2021, Kyra Wilson and Sophia Maymudes

A double dose of fun from a doubled set of constructors! What a fun theme, revealed (appropriately enough) at 22D: Strengthen one's commitment ... and a hint to four answers in this puzzle (DOUBLEDOWN). And so we find in each corner that one down answer has all of its letters doubled, in order to indicate the hidden "double" that makes up the first part of the actual answer.

Thus, 2D: Candlelit dinners for four, say ([DOUBLE]DATES) is represented by DDAATTEESS. Nicely, although we read the doubled letters down singly, when they are in the across answers, they naturally are simply the doubled letters. I knew something was up when I looked at 1A: Stirs in, and couldn't straightforwardly enter A[DD]S, even when I confirmed the A with ANODE. O[TT]OMANS confirmed that something was going on. But it didn't become immediately clear until the revealer.

It's a beautifully done theme, and the rest of the puzzle is excellent as well. Of course, here in Albany, we have a double DOGGO household, so that sat nicely. 51A: Like bad apples and sour grapes? (IDIOMATIC) is a lovely clue. And who doesn't love the sound of CELESTAS, as heard in the Sugar Plum Fairy's song from the Nutcracker?


I solved with Cece and Hope, and so it was fitting that my daughter immediately got 56D: Bops or hits, say (SONGS). Almost without a pause. We've taught her well. She also got 8D: Things that are far from basic? (ACIDS). Among other answers, but those were the ones that really impressed me.

Really, it's a lovely puzzle, just what we like to see to start out the turn. I'd never heard of PAYA, and I don't think I want to think about it ever again. But otherwise, no complaints!

- Colum

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Wednesday, June 2, 2021, Jesse Goldberg

Congratulations to Mr. Goldberg for his NYT crossword debut!

The month of June is Pride Month, celebrating the STONEWALL riots of 1969. So today, we have a tribute puzzle to that event, even though it took place on June 28. Cleverly, the puzzle presents a series of answers around the outside of the grid that take the word "stone" as the second part of the clued phrase. Thus, 1A: *Graveyard sight (HEAD) refers to "headstone."

Anybody here play HEARTH[stone]? It's somewhat like Magic: The Gathering, I suppose, based instead on the video games World of Warcraft. I played that first game years and years ago. But collectible card games have never been my thing.

Otherwise, I like all the answers, including BIRTH[stone] and BROWN[stone] especially. The construction of the grid with all of those theme answers fixed into place along the edges of the puzzle means there are few long sparkly answers in the fill. 9D: Widespread panic (HYSTERIA) is a better entry than OPENATAB, but the term has lost some of its appeal to me because of its long use in Neurology as a way of putting down women's complaints. We much prefer the phrase "conversion disorder" instead.

My RYE of choice

The other answer I raised an eyebrow at was ASPERSE. When Googled, you get the dictionary definition, and nothing more. This is my quick and easy way to prove that nobody ever says this word in real life. But I don't want to be SNIDE

There are some nice clues and answers to lift one's spirit. I like 22A: Tear sheet? (TISSUE), and 12D: Like the words "literally" and "ironic," often (MISUSED) brings a smile to my face. Other fun answers include YKNOW and EASYOUT

Here's looking forward to the turn!

- Colum

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Tuesday, June 1, 2021, Finn Vigeland

Don't be too disappointed, it's me back again after a fun appearance by Cece yesterday. But we get a find and tasty puzzle to make up for it.

The revealer comes at 34A: Turned out successfully ... or what the parents of 16-, 19-, 52- and 57-Across did? (BOREFRUIT). Amusing to think of these four sets of parents coming to the nursery and looking through the window to find a berry, a plum, a peach, and an apple instead of newborns. Do you think MELONS should have been changed to keep the theme cleaner? Tough to rank these four stars, but I'd put FIONAAPPLE first, followed by HALLEBERRY, PROFESSORPLUM, and PRINCESSPEACH.

There are two real life and two fictional personages represented, so that's symmetric. And the placement of the theme answers in adjacent rows is attractive. There are a ton of black squares in the middle, which serve to reduce the number of down answers that have to cross three theme answers to two total. 17D: Save the day (BEAHERO) is fine, but DUALIPA is excellent. If you haven't twigged to her really fun release Future Nostalgia from the midst of the pandemic, you've missed out.

Cute that ONCE and WAS are both clued by their respective positions in limericks. I also like it when two countries are cross referenced like JORDAN and ISRAEL here. Somehow, though I would love it if they could be in the correct positions in the grid with the former to the east of the latter. But perhaps that's just blowing raspberries.

Marty MCFLY is always a fun reference. One of the all time great movies, in my opinion. Amy POEHLER is an amazing comic, and I used to love Johanna SPYRI's Heidi in my day, so all around good times.

FTW indeed!

- Colum