Thursday, December 23, 2021

Thursday, December 23, 2021, Stephen McCarthy

Just two days to Christmas... Hope you've got everything you need already! Tomorrow's going to be a rough shopping day.

I admire today's theme quite a bit. It's an odd one, but very consistent. Take a phrase where the last word is five letters with only two vowels, namely A and O. Then switch the placement of those vowels to make a new word, which then inspires a silly clue. Thus, "A Christmas Carol" becomes ACHRISTMASCORAL, clued with "Reef deposit hung on the holiday tree?"

It's nice that two of the phrases have the vowels in the order A - O, while the other two are O - A. My favorite by far was 59A: Buys tickets for a couple of friends for a Polynesian getaway? (TAKESTWOTOTONGA). That's a lovely bit of work there. The other two examples aren't nearly as clever, with VITALARGON and CAFFEMACHO. I don't know how many other possible well-known phrases would work as theme answers here, but I can't imagine it's all that many.


The fill has some nice answers, like HERDSCATS and STATEHOOD. It was eye-catching to see ZEROG right next to AGAME

I didn't find too much that was tricky or very clever in the clues. I have come to expect a little more toughness on a Thursday. What did you all think?

- Colum


  1. I liked it -- especially TAKES TWO TO TONGA. And I really don't mind a non-rebus Thursday.

  2. I kinda liked this one. That kind of wordplay really tickles my funny bone :) Spent some fruitless time trying to think of other reversible O/A words..

    ENSOR was new to me. ETRADE was not - I worked there for years when they had a Canadian office.

  3. Frannie's been a huge fan of ENSOR ever since we saw his "My Portrait in 1960" which is a reclining skeleton (he was born in 1860). He was a weird, but entertaining dude.

    And speaking of entertaining, this puzzle entertained me, too. VITALARGON was just so ludicrous!