Saturday, December 31, 2022
Friday, December 30, 2022
Thursday, December 29, 2022
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Monday, December 26, 2022
Sunday, December 25, 2022
A fun literary theme today, with book title clues leading to punny answers. "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," e.g.?" is a FLUIDVOLUME, for example, and "The Help," e.g.?" is a WORKINGTITLE. Heh.
Some very clever clues today - like "One might have three parts, with or without its last letter" (SUITE). Very nice. And for "I, to Claudius," I dropped in "ego," thinking I was all that, but no, it's not our "I" translated, it's his "I" used as a number: ONE. And speaking of false starts, I tried "Shh" for "[I know it's wrong]" thinking, you know, "We shouldn't be doing this, but let's just both be quiet about it...", but no, it was the much more literal SIC. Oops.
But my favorite clue today, by far, is "Cut with a letter opener?" Even as I saw the letters come in, it took me a while to understand that it was TBONESTEAK. A cut of meat that starts with a letter. Wow. Beautiful.
In other news, I put a Phil OCHS quote under my photo in my high school yearbook, little radical that I was. Poor Phil OCHS... through connections at work I later met his niece, which made me very happy. I'm sure I over-gushed about how much I liked her uncle, but she was very nice about it.
Finally, I did not know that there was a Looney Tunes animator called BUGS Hardaway. And I further did not know that it was he who first drew BUGS Bunny, and according to Wikipedia (which Frannie and I each donate to every year, and which I recommend you consider in your charitable donations), when Hardaway was given a model sheet for a new animated short, someone simply wrote "Bugs' bunny" on it, and, well, the rest is history. Fascinating.
I hope you enjoyed this one, and I hope you all are enjoying your Sunday, whether you've spent it opening presents or not. We appreciate each and every one of you who comes to check in on our little blog, and we wish you all the best, today and every day.
Saturday, December 24, 2022
Yesterday I was wondering if today's puzzle would be a real stumper, and when I saw Mr. Charlson's name, I knew it certainly could be, but it turns out that when the grid-spanners come to you, they fill in a lot of letters, and things went along pretty smoothly, all things considered.
There are eight (!) fifteens, so let's rank them.
ALABAMASLAMMERS (Southern Comfort cocktails) - as much as I loathe SoCo, I can't not like this name.
BEETHOVENSTHIRD (Symphony originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte) - I think this is pretty well-known, but I actually entered BEETHOVENeroIca at first, and was mad about it, thinking "who would ever say that?" I really should have learned by now that when I think something is really off, it's probably my own dumb brain.
EUCALYPTUSTREES (Bush growths) - Fun realization, when it came clear.
After that, the rest are all pretty much the same. DOORTODOORSALES (Revenue source for a Girl Scout troop) was a little surprising. Does this still happen? And I wanted an "and" in SOCLOSEYETSOFAR, but it's ok as it is.
ODEON, STENOS, and PTL were OYS, but SATAN, FLYROD (Casting choice), and ATEALIVE (Creamed) were NEATO. "Seat in Parliament" (ARSE) always gets a chuckle. LATE (One way to run) was surprising in that it was not "amok," and NMI (Letters used in the absence of a letter) sent me to the reference desk. I can report back that I believe it means "No Middle Initial," and probably not "Notice of Mental Illness" in this case.
Lastly, I've flown into Paris a dozen times or more, always on Air France, and I've never landed at ORLY. I don't doubt that it's a hub, but it must not be their international hub.
It took me longer than yesterday's, but only about a minute more.
Friday, December 23, 2022
Interesting that the two long Down answers today are eye-related: STARINGCONTEST (Game that often ends in tears) and RETINALSCANNER (High-tech security device). See also: 52D "Good name for a florist or optometrist" (IRIS). And another fun related pair is "Quinceañera feature" (TILDE) and "Quinceañera, e.g." (FIESTA).
I liked BOTTOMDOLLAR (End of one's money), but I thought that TISSUESAMPLE (Culture subject) and CANNIBAL (One of a dangerous group in "Robinson Crusoe") tread a little close to the "breakfast table" line. Or whatever that decency litmus test is called.
On the brighter side, my poetry friends will enjoy the Plath quote at 50D: "I, to you, am lost in the gorgeous errors of FLESH." It's from her journals, not from one of her poems, but still... Plath.
ASTERISKS (Things not good to have next to one's records) is fun, COLDSPELL (Follower of an arctic blast) is appropriate for today's weather situation, and RYES (Old-fashioned options) is appropriate any old time. Who would use anything else? :)
This went right along for me - less than ten minutes. Often when Friday is easier than I think it should be, Saturday makes up for it. Here's hoping!
Thursday, December 22, 2022
There has been a little talk of quitting the blog recently, but there has never been any talk of quitting crosswords, and it's puzzles like this one that will keep me forever coming back to these black and white squares.
Mr. Steinberg - part wunderkind, part elder statesman in puzzledom - has put together a little gem for us today. Four CARs enter the grid from each of the four sides, and they are given the choice of a ROUNDABOUTROUTE. In other words, they hit a rotary with three exits. Or maybe you will think of it as a "traffic circle" if you're not from New England. In France, our GPS, Dominique, called them rond points. Anywho... we are given clues for each exit, and we encounter them, as one does in rotaries, in a counter-clockwise order. Maybe I should just give an example to make this easier.
A CAR enters the grid at 5-Down, and the clue there is "First exit: Floor covers • Second exit: Addition signs? • Third exit: Checking the IDs of." So, as the CAR hits the rotary, the first exit goes out directly to the left edge, following 19A "Pedometer unit" (STEP), which, when read backward, as if exiting the rotary, is "pets" and when put onto the end of CAR is "carpets," which are "floor covers." The second exit goes straight down using 23D "We come in peace" speakers, in brief" (ETS) giving "carets" (Addition signs?) (nice), and finally, the third exit is 20A "[Correct!] (DING) "carding" (Checking the IDs of). See? Nothing simpler.
An aside - I cannot hear the word DING without thinking of a time, long ago, when I was in a restaurant with friends, and when one in our party mentioned that they were considering the "chicken almond ding," another said, rather bombastically, "I don't want anything with 'ding' in it!" Maybe you had to be there. I've since been told that "ding" in Chinese cooking means something like "diced" and I know it's idiotic to laugh at language, but we were very young at the time, and sometimes things are funny when you're young and stupid. (Hey, this gives me an idea... maybe if I can get us "cancelled," I won't have to be responsible for the blog stopping...) (but wait... I guess I still would be...)
All right, so where was I? The other three cars enter the grid at 26A, 66D, and 54A, and each has three exit possibilities. It's a tiny bit unfortunate that 26A and 66D read as RAC, which is not a real word, but I think the cluing saves the day here, because we are not being asked for a real word going in the normal direction. Neither are we just given a dash. We are given the exits, and the CAR is assumed, and it needs to be entering the rotary from the proper direction. Gah! I'm talking way too much about this. I think you all get the idea by now.
Interesting clue for ANGELINA (Name derived from the Greek for "messenger"). The Greek word is "angelos," and "angela" is the feminine, and ANGELINA is the diminutive. Angels are "messengers" of God. Words are cool.
My favorite quadrant, if it can even be called that today, is the SE, with the lovely trio of AMBROSIA (Those who consume it become immortal, according to myth), DERELICT (Broken-down), and GODLESS (Unholy). So good.
OK, this is getting long. I really enjoyed this one. Not a rebus, as we often (petulantly) say, but a great start to the Turn nonetheless. Keep 'em coming!
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Well Hello there. I learned a few things with yesterday's blog post. First, I can be kind of a mean drunk. Sorry about that. (And apologies for the cheap shots, Rex.) Second, I shouldn't probably hint at things when there's a chance that the country's (world's?) leading enigmatologist might read it and then immediately call me on it. :)
So anywayyyyyy.... WHATSTHEBIGDEAL? Maybe we three and Rex should have a MEGAMERGER. YOLO! Heh. Sorry. There I go again.
I like this triply-imagined "big deal" theme. FIFTYPERCENTOFF is a pretty big deal, a MEGAMERGER is so by definition, and a ROYALFLUSH, well, that's the biggest non-wildcard deal there is. :)
Luckily, we've been watching a lot of BritBox, and we hear more about BAFTAs than we do about OBIES these days. So that BODEd well for getting 1-Down. Or is it "bade well?" No, that's the perfect of "bid," right? ... Luckily, there were no questions about awkward past tenses.
And speaking of not knowing things, were you as surprised as I was by 23-Across, "Country with the second-most Portuguese speakers" (ANGOLA)? I bet you know that Brazil is number one, but guess where Portugal is - fourth!
Another thing I don't think about much is RHENIUM. It was, apparently, the last stable, non-radioactive element to be discovered (in 1925), and it was named after the Rhine river (Rhenus in Latin), whence the earliest samples came. We've said it before and we'll say it again (for a while anyway. ;)), learning things from crosswords is one of the things we like so much about them.
Finally, I enjoyed the crossing of FWORDS and SALTY. Heh.
Fun Wednesday puzzle. It is Wednesday, right? Right. ... maybe that's another reason for us to keep doing this - so I can keep track of what day it is.
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Good evening. Horace here, with a gin-soaked review of today's puzzle.
Before I started doing crosswords, I would have called today's theme a rebus. But now let's just call it visual wordplay? Does that work?
CRACKFALLSCRACK (Gets overlooked, literally) demonstrates the theme well. The word "falls" is nestled between two instances of the word "crack," and if you were to describe that situation, you might say "falls between the cracks" which is equivalent to "gets overlooked." Similarly literalized are, "slips between the sheets" (rawr!), "hits right between the eyes," and "reading between the lines."
This is a kind of wordplay/puzzle/game that I enjoy. So thumbs up on the theme.
You know, since I'm a little drunk, I'm just going to tell you that I started this blog as a foil... an alternative ... a response to the Rex Parker blog. I thought his was too negative all the time, and I thought there might be room for a kinder, gentler blog. I'm not trying to normalize George H.W. Bush with those words. Despite the fact that once W. came in, his father seemed like a better guy. And then when that moron got elected, everybody got nostalgic for both of the Bushes. No. I don't want to say that any of that was good. Or that Rex was good. Is good. But he's been doing it a long time, and he's made a living on his negativity. Just like that moron.
Anyway, I thought of Rex today so I looked at his blog. And what do you know, he was disappointed with the puzzle. I can't remember how to spell "Nicene creed" or "go karts," or Brendan Fraser's name, or the former king of Norway, even though I've been doing crosswords my whole life... and I don't like it when there are two words that kind of mean the same thing. I hate language and its beautiful variations... waah waah waah. (And I know he'd complain about my spelling of "waah." Why not "waahh?" or the simpler "wah?")
I know we haven't reached many people, and I know it doesn't amount to a hill of beans, but no matter the viewership, I believe that we have offered an alternative for a while. ... who knows how long that 'while' will last...
So anyway... I'm not CROSS. I'm just OVOID after TWELVE drinks that ERODE my senses. My PLUM thoughts have PERISHED - OHMYGOD! - my PRIMARY functions are no longer working!
Monday, December 19, 2022
Some people love themes in crosswords. Me, I could usually take them or leave them. There, I said it.
Today the theme is fine. You've got GIFT (Something that can be wrapped using the starts of...") and then you look at the associated answers and you see:
Fine. The first words are all associated with wrapping presents, and sure, it's gift-giving time, so that's appropriate, but TAPEDELAY is a little dated, I've never heard anyone pluralize the first word when talking about a scissor kick, and BOWSTRING is a rare word. I mean, there's nothing actually wrong with any of them ... oh, maybe I'm just being a crank.
On the brighter side, each of the longer Down answers is great. SKYROCKET (Soar) is uncommonly good, EXECRABLE (Unspeakably awful) is beautifully bad. Here's a little story, when we were in Paris recently, I bought a really expensive bottle of Calvados at a little boutique near the Marché Maubert on Boulevard Saint-Germain. I asked the guy working there if it was worth it to get the 25-year instead of the 12-year, and he said that before he started working there, he wouldn't have known, but ever since he started trying all these expensive bottles, he had become execrable. So now that's me, I guess. Enjoy!
ICEFLOE and SLACKER are also lovely fill, and DENSER makes me think of The Raven ("Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer...").
The clue for IMAC (Something in an office that's not PC?) is cute, and "Sink attachment" for PIPE is very odd. Especially on a Monday.
Would I get tired of crosswords if they didn't have themes? I doubt it. Would everyone else? How should I know? I'm not the boss of them.
See what I mean? Execrable.
Sunday, December 18, 2022
SOME THEME'S MISSING
Christmas came early for me today - I got a themeless Sunday! And a fun one to boot! You might even say "I'm in heaven!" (AHBLISS) (THISISTHELIFE).
First of all, I like the spiral shape of the grid, the wide-open center, and the chunky corners. Then we get great C/APs at every turn. From the classic "What used to be yours?" (THINE) to the thoroughly modern MEMESTOCK (Sort of investment purchase with a spike in popularity through social media). "Joke that goes over the line?" (CRANKCALL). Let's enjoy that one while there are still a few houses with a landline (ours included!).
Our Canadian friend Philbo will surely have enjoyed running into POUTINE at 96-Across (Québécois dish of French fries, cheese curds and gravy), while the rest of us below the 45th parallel will have to settle for a BLOOMINGONION (Fried appetizer that resembles a blossom). And speaking of Philbo, perhaps he can tell me whether CESTBIEN ("That's fine," in French) is something he hears much. I mean, sure, I guess it means what they say it means, but I don't remember hearing it much while we were in France. It's not wrong, but...
ENFUEGO (Really hot, slangily) was great, and "Covered, in a way" (PAIDFOR) was one that I didn't see coming. "One might offer concessions" (FOODSTAND) was one of those lovely, obvious ones. But it was only obvious once I had enough crosses! See also: "Their business is picking up" (TAXIS). Just lovely.
Nice misdirection with the capital in "Apple product" (CIDER), and it was fun to learn the term PANTSROLE (Term for a male opera character played by a woman). Heh.
Overall, a really great themeless Sunday. Keep 'em coming!
Saturday, December 17, 2022
And the streak of fun and tough themeless puzzles extends! (At least to two puzzles. I've already forgotten about last week.)
Apologies for the late (ish) post: dress rehearsal today for tomorrow's Christmas concert, at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. There are still about 25 tickets left, so get them while you can!
You know it's going to be tough going when you get all the way down the west side to 35A: It goes without saying (AXIOM) before you feel confident enough to put something in. Here, because 29D: Big actors (HAMS) gave me the M, and I felt like 36D was going to start with ON____. Just to make it clear, this was my last answer I filled in. I knew how it started but couldn't see ONEARTH for the life of me.
Even though I had ____HOAXES and YOUREONFIRE, I couldn't get the NW corner because I had put in walkS for 5D: Eschews a cab, say (WALKS). But I love 4D: Something you reach out and take (SELFIE). That's so good! And 17A: It just makes scents! (AIRFRESHENER) is hi-larious.
The middle down going staircase of long answers actually posed little issue for me. The Steven Wright quote was not immediately known to me, but I got it anyway. I love 16D: Cold shower? (THERMOMETER), and WEENIEROAST is just funny to look at.
|Appropriate for the season|
43A: No-frills retirement options? (COTS) - yes!
14A: Place with multiple ports (WINEBAR) - not a wi-fi cafe. Or a recharging station.
7A: Certain parental figure? (DADBOD) - seen many times, but still guffaw worthy.
I loved this puzzle. There's so much more here to admire. Great work! Finished in 9:03, faster than yesterday.
Friday, December 16, 2022
Be careful what you wish for! After yesterday's puzzle, today's was a shock of cold water in the face. Definitely tougher than usual Friday themeless fare, which I've come to expect from Mr. Collins.
So many good answers in the fill, which is absolutely enabled through the use of CHOKEPOINTS. Each corner is essentially isolated from the middle, making five mini-puzzles. You all know that I like a grid with more flow, but I did absolutely enjoy the words here, so it's a trade-off.
I broke in with DUNKTANK crossing 32A: Some menthols (KOOLS). I have no idea why that piece of information lives on in my brain. I wasn't entirely sure what 30D: Red, fruity alcoholic drink, informally (VODKACRAN) was going to be in the end, but because of the Roadrunner cartoon, I knew ANVIL, and therefore which alcohol was going to be used. I love that 36A: Toasted (DRUNK) crosses it!
I actually completed the SE corner first, with the nice crossing of DIANA and DATE helping out a lot. SORANDOM and NETZERO are great answers. Has anyone drunk an OLY? I had never heard of this beer (Olympia). The SW corner fell next, working backwards when I figured out the start of 40A. Definitely the least exciting of the corners.
|By ELENORE Abbott|
I moved up through the NE portion of the middle, with the excellent 31A: Inspiration for some fashion lines? (ZEBRA), and with the useful USEFUL to finally break open the NW corner. BADJUJU above AQUINAS! Very nice. 16A: Channel through a barrel (GUNBORE) took a long time to see.
Finally, the NE corner fell. I had TRANCES and BOLTCUTTERS, and took some educated guesses (APACHE, SISTER), and had to remove the initially incorrect harES for ASSES, a much more likely answer at the ending edge of a grid.
Impressive puzzle, taking me 10:39.
Thursday, December 15, 2022
I'm always pleased to see Dr. Haight's byline on a crossword puzzle. I know that I'll see a solidly constructed grid with a fun, often punny theme. So please understand that when I say I'm disappointed in today's offering, it has nothing to do with the quality of the puzzle. I think it's a solid Wednesday puzzle. I'm confused as to why it's running on a Thursday, the day I look forward to tricksy theme material. I have to assume that Mr. Shortz and company are running short (see what I did there?) on appropriate puzzles for the day.
With that out of the way, let's celebrate the excellence of the VICHYSSOISE soup. The origin of the name is debated, but presumed to be after the town that unfortunately is also the namesake of the Fascist occupation government of France during World War II. Nonetheless, the ingredients are simple, and in the grid are clued with the recipe instructions for each one. Take "Two pounds, peeled and chopped" NEWPOTATOES, cook in "Five cups, after lengthy simmering" CHICKENSTOCK, add "One cup, after cooling" HEAVYCREAM, with "Four cups, cleaned and sliced" SAUTEEDLEEKS. Yum, yum, and yum.
The corners of the grid are nicely chunky, with the SE being the most scrabbly. Here QVC, BBQRIBS and EXCEEDS make the tile value of this real estate soar.
Dr. Haight's sense of humor comes out with the successive clues at 28A: Lose (GETBEAT) and 30A: Don't lose (WIN). I also enjoyed the prankish GOTCHA and 44A: Missionary work? (BIBLE).
Otherwise it's a strong and fun but reasonably straightforward puzzle.
Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Guess they can't all be debuts... Nothing against Mr. Stock, but I was enjoying the opportunity to welcome new constructors.
Fortunately, Mr. Stock has come up with a fun way to crosswordify another classic phrase: this time it's dem LUCKYBREAKS, which have been reinterpreted as things we as humans (I think mostly in the Western Hemisphere) have deemed to be lucky, broken up across multiple clues. The first and the fourth are across three words, while the second and third only across two.
It's done extremely well, I think. I love NUMB / ERSE / VEN[OM], and had to chuckle at [AB]HOR / SESH / OE[UF]. The craziness of those middle answers being broken into two syllables in both cases is impressive. I also love the clue at 57A: French breakfast item that sounds like a response to a gut punch. Hah!
[RET]RAIN / BOW[LCUT] is good because the hidden segments are surprising in their words. The same is true for the first part of [GRI]SHAM / ROCK[IER], but less so for the second. I'm not sure how it could have been done better though, so over all I have to give the theme a big thumbs up.
|I look forward to some baked BRIE at New Year's|
The fill is pretty well done as well. Of course there's a fair amount of necessary glue to make the whole thing work, but nothing way out there. I enjoyed PANACEAS and CRONUTS, as well as the reference to "Duck AMUCK," one of the all time great meta cartoons.
For clues, 42D: Left base? (THIRD) is a nice piece of misdirection - we're talking baseball, in case it wasn't clear. 19A: Name in price lists? (ELI) moves towards the cryptic crossword style clue.
Fun Wednesday, taking me a little bit longer than typical 5:23.
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Two debuts in two days! Welcome, Ms. Gervase! It's great to see new faces (or just names in the app) in the constructors' community.
Today, we take four flower names and reinterpret them literally with wacky clues. Thus, BABYSBREATH is clued as "What might smell of Gerber products?" My favorite is 33A: The third "little pig," with his house of bricks? (WOLFSBANE). That's great. I also enjoyed LADYSLIPPER - do I sense a sort of fairy tale minitheme? 40A: Award for a champion angler? (GOLDENROD) is also very good. I'm sure there are many other similar opportunities for amusement - perhaps this could have made a larger puzzle, except that the answers aren't really long enough for a typical Sunday size grid.
The NW and SE corners are almost completely segmented from the rest of the grid, but the crosses were all fair and straightforward, so they didn't add too much time. Ms. Gervase was able to add in EVILGENIUS and HOUSEPARTY as fun long down answers. I also liked ANTEATER with its 2-foot long tongue (!).
Is a small ear of corn really known as a NUBBIN? Apparently so, I have discovered after googling it. The word dates at least from the 1690s in the Americas, referring to corn. How surprising!
The only entry I did not like was 21D: "Fer ____" (SHER). I found the solve a little slow-going, in large part because of guessing "crumb" for SCRAP and "bliniS" for CREPES. The latter is completely accurate, and is in fact a Russian version of the better-known French delicacy.
Monday, December 12, 2022
Ms. Burnikel teams up today with Mr. Caruso for his first published NYT crossword. Congratulations on joining the ranks of the rich and famous! Well, maybe just famous. In certain circles.
Our theme today is revealed at 39A: Dog command ... or a hint to the starts of the answers to the four starred clues (GOFETCH). I like that the four theme answers hide the things a dog might fetch in ways that do not directly relate to a thing a dog might actually be able to carry in its mouth. Thus BALLOFFIRE and PAPERTRAIL. STICKTOIT is particularly figurative in this situation!
Bonus theme material can be found at 23D: Snoopy and Gromit, for two (BEAGLES) - two cartoon dogs who never in their lives would be caught dead fetching something. Also, perhaps 66A: R&B great Redding (OTIS) could have been clued to refer to the movie Milo & Otis...
It being a Monday, the clues do not skew tricksy. I still liked 41A: Org. for Penguins and Ducks (NHL), as well as 57A: Fliers that may consume thousands of insects in an hour (BATS).
Fun entries include KISMET and EMOPOP (I happen to really like Panic! at the Disco). It's a strong and smooth Monday that went by in 2:45.
Sunday, December 11, 2022
STEP ON IT!
Well, what do you know. Another year has slipped by. This is my final week of review posts in the calendar year of 2022. I will put off any valedictory remarks to my colleagues, but I will just say that it's been an honor and a pleasure to write these silly reviews for our faithful six readers. (I actually don't know how many readers we have! I just like to think I have a tiny little crew reading my blogs...)
Today's Sunday puzzle has a rebus theme! We do enjoy those here at HAFDTNYTCPFCFA. I especially enjoy a rebus where the spaces are unpredictable and/or the rebus themselves change from answer to answer. And we get both in this one!
Isn't it funny how we have different levels of disgust at the insect world? An ant or a bee (even with my unreasoning phobia) don't arouse the same amount to repulsion as, say, a roach or a tick. Still, the seven insects infesting this puzzle are reason enough to suggest a squashing reaction.
I got the rebus with the first answer. We all know that 23A: Hypotenuse-finding formula (PYTHAGORE[ANT]HEOREM) could have only one answer. But how to squeeze all those letters in? Fortunately, 9D: Simple shelter (LE[ANT]O) provided the answer. Imagine my delight when I got to 43A: One drinking soft drinks at a party, perhaps (DESI[GNAT]EDDRIVER) and realized the changing rebus.
My favorites are the ones where the rebus crosses words, like in the first one and in 67A: Symbol of Irish heritage (CEL[TICK]NOT). Next, I like answers where the insect name is pronounced differently than the syllable it finds itself in, as in 89A: "The Pink Panther" character (INSPECTORC[LOUSE]AU). I suppose INLIKE[FLY]NN and LUDWIGVAN[BEE]THOVEN fit in that category, but three-letter rebuses are less impressive.
61A: Cause of class struggle? (ESSAY) wins for best C/AP today. I also liked 80A: Bum (PATOOTIE), and 17D: Disorder from which Dostoyevsky and many characters in his novels suffered (EPILEPSY). That's the neurologist in me speaking up. How about 89D: Post-merger acquisitions? (INLAWS). Hah! That made 75D: Post-merger overhauls, informally (REORGS) better in retrospect.
Saturday, December 10, 2022
Friday, December 9, 2022
Thursday, December 8, 2022
|Electron microscope image of RIME ice on both ends of a "capped column" snowflake.|
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Monday, December 5, 2022
Sunday, December 4, 2022
Talk, talk - it's all talk. Too much talk. Small talk. Talk that trash.
Any King Crimson fans out there? No? ... moving on.
Today's theme puts punny clues onto expressions used to describe gossiping. The local favorite, of course, is "The Boston Harbor worker ..." SPILLSTHETEA. Heh. The grossest one is "The athlete in the locker room ..." AIRSTHEDIRTYLAUNDRY. Somebody needs a HOSEDOWN. See also: "Sweat spots" (PORES) (Nice clue!).
I had never before heard of a PROUST Questionnaire, but I looked it up, of course, and it was apparently a parlor game in the Victorian era. Proust famously answered it at two separate times in his life, and his name has now been attached to it. My favorite of his answers is to the question "Your favorite color and flower" - in 1886 he wrote "I like them all, and for the flower I do not know," and in 1890 he wrote "The beauty is not in the colors, but in their harmony."
I had also never heard of an IDLI (Savory rice cake of southern India), but I'll be looking for them on the menu the next time we get Indian food.
As for good C/APs, how 'bout "Defense of a history paper?" (FORTRESS). And I really liked the simplicity of "Print maker" for PAW and "It's designed to catch bugs" for WEB. And I love the quote "ART is never finished, only abandoned." by Leonardo. Good threes are always a good thing.
Fun theme. And speaking of fun, Frannie finally comes back tomorrow! I, for one, am looking forward to that. :)
Saturday, December 3, 2022
OK, so I get that NOTAKEBACKS ("Too late to change your mind now!") is correct, but doesn't "no takesies backsies" sound more natural to you? :)
Four tens and four elevens in the grid today. The best C/AP of the bunch is probably "Guilt trip?" (APOLOGYTOUR). Hah. And PIPECLEANER (One getting bent out of shape at preschool?) wasn't bad either. I think I had the Ps before I had much else, so I was trying to make "paper"-something work for a bit.
"Compact" was tricky for TREATY, and it took me a while to get DAM (Block), too. And since there was some confusion about blinds in poker earlier in the week, I'll say that the ANTE system is one way to seed the pot before the deal, but the other is the blind system, wherein the eldest hand and the player to her left, which is to say the first two players to get cards, are the only two to put money into the pot. The first is usually the "big blind" and it's usually a larger amount than a normal ante. The second is the "little blind," and that player usually puts in half of the big blind amount. These two players are essentially "betting blind" before seeing their cards, and it puts a little more pressure on them to stay in the hand. And since the deal goes around, everyone eventually puts in the same amount. I've never actually played in a game using this method, but I think it would be interesting to try.
The acronym ASMR was new to me, although I was aware of the topic, and the fact that there are many online resources catering to those wanting to stimulate such a sensation. It stands for "Autonomous sensory meridian response."
Ah, the many forms of JOLLITY that we humans delight in. Me, I think I can get a brain-tingly feeling from a particularly good crossword puzzle. :)
Friday, December 2, 2022
Was MONSTERMASH (1962 #1 hit that the BBC once deemed "too morbid" to play) in the puzzle around Halloween? I think it may have been, but I don't really recall. Anyway, I liked it as a starting answer today. Under that, I really wanted "the royal we," but EDITORIALWE (First person plural?) will have to do. It's certainly not an offense worthy of a LIFETIMEBAN (Highest bar?) (nice).
In the SE, we've got MINDREADERS (They know what you're thinking), PHOTOCREDIT (What a camera emoji in an Instagram caption often signifies) (how quaint, they're crediting photographers), and the answer that gave me a FWOE, RECENCYBIAS (Inclination to prioritize new events over historical ones). I kept thinking of the "banks" in "Banks who coined the term 'smizing'" as actual money lenders, and so I didn't see that it needed to be TYRA, and honestly, I can't remember what was going on with RECENCYBIAS, but it wasn't a term I knew. Sigh. I think my problem might be that I have a "long-ago bias."
Nice repeated "Swell!" clue for NIFTY and NEATO, and I enjoyed "Something that's dropped after it's finished" for ALBUM. I'm always happy to see ODIUM (Sense of loathing) in the grid, and MELBA (Toast opening?) reminds me that my brother recently went on and on about how much he likes rusk. Not exactly the same, but in the same family.
Finally, I liked the pair of viewing-related C/APs "Comment made with eyes closed, perhaps" (ICANTWATCH) and "Don't tell me what happens yet!" (NOSPOILERS).
Thursday, December 1, 2022
Boy, I had some trouble in the South today! NEODADA (One of many genres for Yoko Ono) was tough for me, especially because I had entered - and was pretty confident about - hAUNT for "Unnerve" (DAUNT). I still like mine, but I guess I agree that DAUNT also works. But anyway, I also didn't know that Joe-PYE weed was a thing. It is, and it can grow up to something like seven or eight feet tall. Weird.
So the theme, which I did not understand until I finished, is actually pretty fun. ANTICI (First half of this puzzle's theme ...) was very confusing, even as I uncovered ALMOSTTHERE and WAITFORIT. NOTQUITEYET was the last piece to fall for me, and only then did I put the ANTICI together with the PATION at the end. Hah! It was making me wait!
I enjoyed ATBIRTH beside NURTURE, reigniting the ol' nature vs. NURTURE discussion. Misparsing GOONTOUR is fun, and I'm sure our pal Huygens will enjoy mention of ANTARES.
I didn't know they'd go high-end with "About half of a sidecar" and entered "brandy" at first instead of COGNAC. (Full disclosure, I've also made them with Armagnac. Delicious.) Once again, the "direct imperative" style clue got me again with "Step on it!" (INSOLE). And I enjoyed "Sound a little rusty, maybe" for SQUEAK. Hah!
The top went a lot faster than the bottom for me, but it did not IRRITATE me. Indeed, even without a rebus, I thought this was a fun start to the Turn.
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
A workaday Wednesday theme of four things represented by the letter K:
So let's just quickly talk about these in order, since they're all pretty interesting.
The K for strikeout comes from the very earliest days of baseball, when a guy named Henry Chadwick set out to document the game in print back in the 1850s! He had already used "S" for "Sacrifice," so he used the last letter of the word struck ("struck" was commonly used back then to indicate that a player had been put down on three strikes) instead. And I'm not sure if it was him or if it was decided later that a backwards K would indicate that the batter did not swing on the third strike.
The K for THOUSAND comes straight from Greek, where "kilo" means thousand. Do not confuse with Latin's Roman numeral M, which also means thousand (from "milia"), and which led to mille in French and Italian, mil in Spanish, and even "mile" in English. (from mille passus, "a thousand steps." Their steps were obviously longer than ours, if we imagine that a step could be about a yard, since we have 1760 in a mile.)
Sometimes people claim that the K in CYMK came about in a way similar to the K in baseball - that "B" was already taken by blue, but most printers will argue that the K stands instead for "key color." The key color being that holding the finest detail in a multi-plate printing, and that used to register all other plates. So the K could, theoretically, be any color at all, but for all practical, modern purposes, it means black.
Finally, Latin (well, neo-Latin) gets its comeuppance, as the K used for POTASSIUM comes from "kalium."
So there you have it. A relatively modest amount of theme today allows for lots of zazzle. To wit, SWIZZLE (Kind of stick) and BUZZSAW (Noisy circular cutters). DIRTCHEAP (Costing almost nothing) (crossing THOUSAND!) is fun, and any reference to Hamlet is A-OK in my book. (ELSINORE (Castle in "Hamlet"))
A very satisfactory Wednesday.
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Dare I say it? ... This puzzle was for the BIRDS! (sorry)
All flighty punning aside, I'm down with it. A FLOCK of BIRDS hangs off the central FEATHER: FALCON, WREN, RHEA, KESTREL, HAWK, NENE, and CONDOR. I'm not sure I've seen a nested theme like this before, but it flies for me.
And it's not just the clustered center. The theme is in the NW and SE wingtips, and in the clues for PEACECORPS (International service organization with a dove in its logo) and URBANAREAS (Traditional habitats for pigeons), and in SEED (Finch feed filler), BROTH (Chicken stock, e.g.), and "Turkey" (IDIOT). That's a lotta theme!
The grid-spanning entries are both strong - COOLASACUCUMBER (Unruffled) (more theme??) and HORSEWITHNONAME (Desert wanderer's mount in a 1972 hit by America). Well, I say strong... is that song still well-known? It came out back when we were all singing LOLA and "Flicking our BIC."
And speaking of - how 'bout ol' KNOSSOS? (City in ancient Crete with a renowned labyrinth.) There's a blast from the Bronze Age.
Once again, the highlighting function seems a bit off today, as when 1D is selected, both 51D and 4A (MADRE) light up. And when 4A is selected, 1D, 44A, and 45D all light up. Odd.
Favorite clues include "Forest ranger?" (ELK), and "Promising words" (IDO). Always nice when the threes are colorful.
A good Tuesday, I RECKON.
Monday, November 28, 2022
So it turns out AMFAR (Org. for H.I.V. prevention and study) has been around since 1985, but I've never heard of it. And off of that comes the odd ATCAMP (Spending time away from parents for the summer, say) and the partial MAHI (When doubled, a brightly colored fish). A bit of a THUD for me. See also SIGEP (Skull-and-crossbones fraternity, for short).
On the brighter side, we've got MOONROVER (Wheeled vehicle designed to function in low gravity), DECADE (Twenties or fifties, but not fives) with its nice clue, and the all-too-uncommon TRUCE (Agreement to end a feud).
Lots of French entries today. The pair of "French farewell" answers - ADIEU and AUREVOIR, and then PARFUM and INGENUES.
And then there's the clever theme of HOPPINGMAD, where circled letters span a black square to form the words "livid," "fuming," "angry," and "irate." It's a strong theme, and I guess we need to allow for certain exigencies in the grid.
Sunday, November 27, 2022
GOING OFF ON A TANGENT
Hello again, Dear Reader, it's me, Horace. Guess where I'm just back from? :) That's right, Paris. But you can stop envying me, because I'm back in BOS, and I also came back with the big C. No, not chlamydia ... come on, I'm a decent sort of guy! I mean Covid, of course. Luckily, for me, I've gotten all the shots and it's more of an annoyance than the life-threatening, indeed life-taking, disease that it otherwise could be. The biggest downer is that I was not able to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family, but, well, that's the way the feather falls.
Now, let's talk about this interesting Sunday puzzle. The title and the circles give it away, but even with the overt angle angle, it played kind of like a themeless, especially because the four thematic answers read as regular entries with or without the circled offshoots. Of course, the clues only work one way, but sometimes words get filled in before you really read the clues, and if that happened today, you might not second guess OPENHEART, when really, the clue "Public court proceeding" was intended for OPENHEAR[ING]. The other three are:
It's a solid set, and a nice little theme. Not mind-blowing, but fine.
If I were still in France, I'd call out CESTSIBON (Compliment to a French chef) as being oddly clued. Why not go with the song popularized by Eartha Kitt, Dean Martin and others? Too old fashioned? And for the record, I think I'd sooner say "Délicieux!" And I might sooner say "spotless" than STAINLESS (Free of flaws, as a reputation).
But I was fooled into thinking through the cast when faced with "Hamlet's cousin" (TOWN), and I chuckled inside (where it counts) at "Duel personalities?" (FOES).
BONGHIT and DANK memes are further evidence of the NYTX's sensibilities shift. Is it a good thing? Or will they find they have YUCKED the yum of some regular solvers?
Saturday, November 26, 2022
Debut alert, on a Saturday! Welcome, Ms. Ajayi, to the NYT. And it's a fun semi-themed Saturday as well.
The two grid-spanning entries are well-known novels written in response to classics. The first, WIDESARGASSOSEA, imagines Mr. Rochester's "mad" wife as a Jamaican woman of mixed descent. Having read a New Yorker article about Jean Rhys, I know that she herself found herself caught between two words, having been raised on Dominica in the Caribbean, and then went to boarding school in England. Not a comfortable experience, to say the least.
The other novel is Chinua Achebe's acclaimed THINGSFALLAPART, which I didn't was a response to Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness, probably because I've never read it. But it does not appear to be specifically drawn from the same characters like the other novel in this puzzle.
I'm not sure if 28A: Inconsistent (HITORMISS) and 42A: Unfailingly loyal (RIDEORDIE) are meant to be part of the theme, or are just symmetrically placed phrases using the word "or." Regardless, it's a nice symmetry.
Interestingly, the two answers I have the most problem with are also symmetrically placed, and I only have problems with them because they are words that are not used in any common way. The first is 4D: Classical orator (RHETOR), which was certainly gettable from context and knowledge of the term "rhetorical." The second is 45D: Key piece of an overlock sewing machine (LOOPER).
The clue for 32A: "Ti ____" (bit of Romance language romance language) (AMO) is hilariously overexplained. I also enjoyed 36A: Open many tabs, maybe (BARTEND) - works in two ways!
With UNDERWORLD, ILLUMINATI, and TWOSOMES, it's a fun grid.
Finished in a very rapid 5:24.
Tomorrow, Horace takes back over again, I believe. Welcome back to the States!
Friday, November 25, 2022
Happy day after Thanksgiving. I hope you are enjoying leftovers and a day of relaxation. We got to drive back to Albany from NYC, with attendant traffic. Not the most relaxing, but we're home now! The dogs handled the trip just fine (with some medication to assist).
What a fun puzzle today! So many tricky clues. But with my weekend solving hat on, I was able to see through many of them.
We start with 1A: Book of legends (ATLAS). Tough one! Not Guinness, or the Edda, or some other sort of thing. I have never taken PIZZAROLLS, so that one took longer, as did 14A: Funny bones? (LOADEDDICE), but what a wonderful QMC.
We should all be aware of what's going on in IRAN right now. One of my graduated residents is Persian, and his Insta feed is just crammed with reels and pictures from his family's home region. Hard to know if the country's win in the play-in round of the World Cup is good or bad for the situation, but I hope it raises awareness.
|Definitely looks more like a squirrel|
I love the two long down answers IDONTWANNA and IGOTNOTHIN. Such great colloquialisms.
26D: London has a "Royal" one (OPERAHOUSE) is pretty open to a number of possibilities. The Ballet, The Academy, the Albert Hall, all are prefixed with "Royal." 27D: Performer whose face is rarely seen (BODYDOUBLE) is a great non-QMC. 28A: Port authorities? (WINESNOBS) - well, I guess I'm hardly an authority on port, but I do like it, and I'm definitely no snob. And finally, 30D: Late assignment (NIGHTSHIFT) is another great non-QMC.
With MARISA Tomei, IANFLEMING, and SUSIEQ, it's a fun grid.
Looking forward to tomorrow's end to The Turn!