Thursday, May 19, 2022

Thursday, May 19, 2022, Alex Rosen

Today the temperature is in the 50s. Tomorrow in the 90s. Maybe nearly 100 on Saturday. Makes you think about end times, doesn't it?

But no reason to be maudlin. Not with a fun and tricksy Thursday puzzle to review! The trick today comes with four words or phrases which can't be entered into the spaces allotted. The reason is clear when you answer the next across clue (on the same row, even). As an example, 17A: Punishes, should lead to the answer "disciplines." However, after reading 19A: Interrupt (CUTIN), you realize you take the IN out of "disciplines" to get DISCIPLES.

Impressive that the words that result from removing the indicated letters are all acceptable crossword puzzle answers in their own right. Thus SPORTED (from "supported"), HOMEICE (from "home office," a timely answer nowadays), and FLING (from "flouted"). Also nice that each of the phrases that tell you to remove specific letters use different synonyms for removal, like SCRUBUP or STRIKEOUT. Very nicely done!

I found this harder going than it might have been because I often work my way down the left side of the grid, and this is where all of the confusing answers were. The first point where I realized that there were clues in the right half of the grid which might help me out came at 48A and 50A. I actually got it at 64A and 66A, then worked my way back up.


Some fun clues today:

10A: Something to sleep on with no springs (WATERBED) - and hopefully no leaks.

63A: One of the pounds in a pound cake (EGGS) - the others are flour, sugar, and butter.

22D: It's said to be "the art of recognizing when to be big and when not to belittle" (TACT) - excellent!

I could do without Holy Roman Emperor [name followed by roman numeral] - in this case OTTOII. He ruled for a total of 10 years before dying of malaria at the age of 28. Hard to see how this justifies his being in the NYT crossword puzzle, but sometimes you just have to make do.

On the other hand, Frederik POHL was an author I very much enjoyed as a child. Perhaps as a 50s, 60s, and 70s era Sci-Fi author, he too is dated. But it's my review today, so my opinion is the one that matters.

- Colum

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Wednesday, May 18, 2022, Andy Kravis

It is a truth universally acknowledged that after a Tuesday puzzle that plays like a Wednesday, you get a Wednesday that plays like a Tuesday (apologies to Ms. Austen). It's not clear to me the criteria that push an early week puzzle into one day over another. I assume there's some "playtesting" that goes on?

In any case, today we get metaphors that can be used for life and/or relationship advice, but which more literally can be applied to solving a jigsaw puzzle. The sayings are placed in order to make sense reading from top to bottom as steps necessary to finish your puzzle, starting with LAYITALLOUTTHERE and finishing with SEETHEBIGPICTURE. Nice sequence. But shouldn't there have been something about starting with the edge pieces? Everybody knows that's how you get started...


Perhaps the difference between Tuesday and Wednesday is that the clues are more PLAYFUL ("Like a frisky puppy"). Some good ones today:

4D: By no means basic (ACIDIC). Indeed.

54A: Eat dirt? (ERODE)

72A: Run into a hitch? (ELOPE) - this is a great QMC, IMO.

64A: Mae who said "To err is human, but it feels divine" (WEST) - not so much clever as witty.

A nice shoutout to THEWIRE, still my favorite television series of all time. 

I like that the puzzle ends with the quotation "The REST is silence."

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Tuesday, May 17, 2022, Richard D. Allen

An impressive debut today with a theme that encompasses six answers, and which works extremely well. It played more like a Wednesday for me, in large part because all of those fixed in place answers forced a grid with segmentation (see the near complete line of black squares from the NW to the SE, with the big plus-shape in the middle).

The revealer says it all. 63A: Entranced ... or what one can do by reading the starts of [the theme answers] (SPELLBOUND). Each of the other answers starts with a phonetic representation of the letters spelling "bound," in order from the top to the bottom. That's a lot of constraint! All of the answers are strong, although I note that DECAFLATTE is the only one where the syllable phonetically representing the letter in question is not its own word. I suspect that would be a major challenge.

Meanwhile, there are some fun answers in the fill. INNOUT, BYENOW, and NULLIFY are nice mid-length answers. WOOLGATHER is evocative, even if we mostly hear it in its inverse form, "gathering wool."

LOU Reed

Some fun clues as well, a little more challenging than yesterday, for sure:

1A: Kids and their parents (GOATS). Yup.

6A: Help with a job, in a way (ABET) - didn't fool me for a second.

10A: Wanted, but nowhere to be found (AWOL). That's the first three across clues, by the way.

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, even if it took me a good deal longer than my average Tuesday time.

Congratulations, Mr. Allen!

- Colum

Monday, May 16, 2022

Monday, May 16, 2021, Lynn Lempel

How lovely to come across a Lynn Lempel grid on a Monday morning. There are a few constructors you know will reliably make a smooth, enjoyable, and well constructed early week puzzle. Ms. Lemple is routinely called upon to construct a puzzle for the ACPT (and did this year as well).

Today's theme is animal-based simile verb phrases, such as DRINKLIKEAFISH, or WORKLIKEADOG. I suppose that RUNLIKEADEEER is the least familiar to me. I feel like running like a cheetah is more evocative, but this one works well. In my experience, dogs rarely work hard. But then I don't have working dogs. I have lazy ones.

There are number of other animal references, such as MARES, GOOSEEGGS, SLITHERS, EMU, and the old favorite EEL. Not to mention old Mr. AESOP, who is referenced with one of his many fables involving animals. And Beauty's BEAST. A little extra theme material? I like to think so.

As is typical of a Monday, there is not a ton of super clever cluing. But I'd like to highlight a few that show that it's not so straightforward cluing even on a Monday. 

25A: Middle square on a bingo card (FREE) - a nice way to spice up a common word with an interesting clue.

39A: "Yay! Tomorrow's Saturday!" (TGIF) - fun quote clue, instead of referencing some chain restaurant.

42A: Elements that make up the atmosphere (GASES)

13D: "___-Ra: Princess of Power" (1980s animated series) (SHE). A lot of work, but worth it! Although I'd prefer if they'd clued it to the more recent, much better animated series, "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power" (aired 2018-2020).

- Colum

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Sunday, May 15, 2022, Daniel Mauer


Hey everyone! Welcome back to me! Thanks to Horace and Frances for an excellent two weeks of scrumptious and nutritious blog posts. I am reminded of The Phantom Tollbooth, where in the Kingdom of Dictionopolis, you had to eat your words, literally. I'm afraid my words would be dry and uninteresting.

I just got back from NYC, and solving Saturday and Sunday's puzzles with my mother, a very enjoyable pastime. Today's effort revolves around ROUTESIXTYSIX, an important roadway pre-interstate highways. I am always amazed to find out that it starts in Illinois. The grid highlights its pathway through the various states by highlighting their accepted two-letter postal abbreviations in a path from NE to SW.

Also nicely, the northeast terminus, Grant PARK sits just below the IL in the northeastern part, while Santa Monica PIER, the southwest terminus, sits just above the CA in the southwestern part. 

TREVI Fountain

The other geographical attractions noted, including the PAINTEDDESERT, CADILLACRANCH, and the GATEWAYARCH are not as precisely located within the stretch of state abbreviations, but that might have been asking a bit too much! Overall, a nicely worked out theme for an oversized Sunday grid.

I also want to note the cleverness with which the state abbreviations are worked into their parent answers. Note particularly 75A: Roux ingredient? (SILENTX) and 99A: Being treated, in a way (ONMEDS).

I hadn't recalled too much clever in the rest of the fill. My favorite clue-answer pair (C/AP) is 5D: Character on a keyboard (SCHROEDER). That's some great work there. In the other direction, I will pick a nit with 69A: Gear for gondoliers (OARS). They only use a single oar in actuality.

- Colum

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Saturday, May 14, 2022, Ada Nicolle

A relatively quick Saturday for this solver (17:30) - no ERROR or SHORTFALL today with which to ASTONISH or entertain YALL. I imagine our speedy solvers went through this one like a hot knife through butter. 

Clueing was a bit uneven - difficulty-wise - at least for this solver, with some early-week level clues mixed with craftier fare. Unlike many Saturday solves, my first pass through the clues produced several solid entries like INFINITYPOOL, SCALES, STUB, OLDELPASO, and the fun SPACEWESTERN, not to mention the section-connecting gimmies like AWL ("Piercing tool"), SIC ("[not our typo]"), "Make a quick visit, with 'in'" (POP), and of course, SILLYSTRING ("Children's toy that's sprayed from a can") - HAH!


The more challenging clues like "Stagger" for (ASTONISH), "Practice" for PLY, "Exhaust" for TIRE, and "Put out" for DOUSE featured a shade more ambiguity. Trickiest of all for this solver were two nice non-QMCs: "Icy detachment" (BERG)
 and "Stand for something" (EASEL). 

I felt a sort of pleasant computer-y vibe as I solved thanks to STUB ("Incomplete Wikipedia entry"), SCREENCAP, ERROR ("Bug"), and TROLL - although no one likes a troll, IRL. :(

With that, another week comes to a close. I entrust you, dear Readers, to the capable hands of esteemed co-blogger, Colum Amory, from whose words of wisdom about puzzles you are more likely to PROFIT. :) ADIOS muchachas y muchachos. 


Friday, May 13, 2022

Friday, May 13, 2022, Brooke Husic and Nam Jin Yoon

Some very nice C/APs today and a relatively quick solve, if FWOE's count as solves. :( My error came at "43A: "Data head?" where I had CI_. I'm not familiar with "Jazz great Laine," so I decided CIa might work with the Across clue, and, ANYTAKERS for CLEa? Anyone? Right. As often happens, no sooner had I entered a guess for the problem letter to complete the grid, than I realized there was a better choice, and it was O, making both a more commonly encountered name (CLEO) Down, and the much better answer, CIO, Across.

I hit only two other trouble spots. 33A: ("Pass (out)") brought a frisson of remembered trauma. I had _ONK but I remembered my OLDEN error in puzzle 3 at this year's ACPT where I rashly entered 'konk' instead 'zonk.' So, this time I waited for the fun CRUSHEDHARD to res in and reveal the correct-and-previously-unconsidered CONK. LESS traumatically, I first tried 'car' for "Body with a floor" at 30A. Heh. 


Here are some of the C/APs I RATED highly today:
"Two cents for a paper, perhaps" (OPED)
"Loafers" (LAYABOUTS)
"Blue book alternative" (ADULTSITE) - although I had no trouble filling in the answer thanks to the Downs, it took me a minute to understand this one. Clever!
"Summons before congress?" (BOOTYCALL) - LOL.
"Was appealing?" (PLED)
"One way to avoid a lecture" (PLAYHOOKY) - cute.
"Card display?" (STL) - very nice.

Fill-wise, RAISEHELL, WEIRDSOUT, ROMANACLEF, the aforementioned CRUSHHARD, and PREACHIER were all winners in my book.

There were very few LOOSEENDS here beyond a few old chestnuts like SPF, SSN, and BTS. And, à la Kelly's experience yesterday, I learned a number of things from this puzzle, including the fact that RANT is from the Dutch word for 'talk nonsense', that owls have asymmetrical ears, and that CIO can be clued as "Data head?" :|


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Thursday, May 12, 2022, Ross Trudeau

In today's puzzle, four Across answers had the letter O twice in succession and both Os were entered rebus-style in a single square, forming a visual umlaut or dieresis over the appropriate letter in the answer below. So we had



It looked better in the app, but you get the idea. :)

At first I thought today's theme was a bit of a sn[oo]ze, but that was before Horace pointed out the double O rebii forming the umlaut or dieresis in key spots. Then I thought it was gr[oo]vy. You might wonder how I missed that feature myself. I blame it on t[oo] much b[oo]ze from yesterday's h[oo]pla.

There was a lot of particularly [aa]pt clueing today including "Changes to survive" (ADAPTS), "Produce, as an egg" (LAY), "Bit of smoke" (WISP), "Tributes containing insults" (ROASTS), "Confers holy orders on" (ORDAINS), and "Kind of globe" was everybody's favorite: SNOW.

And, as if that wasn't enough, there were some clever d[oo]zies as well: "Second" for AIDE, "Brown, for one" (IVY), "Lab coat" for FUR, and my favorite, "Where one might sit for a spell?" (BEE) - ha!

Also, how about "Uneaten part" for RIND while also "Relish" for ZEST? K[oo]ky! 


I had a spot of trouble with "Like many Bluetooth headsets" (ONEEAR) because A. I didn't know there were one-ear headsets, and 12ii. so many vowels in a row had me worried, but eventually I got everything in the right place.

"Greet with derision" (B[OO]AT) made my puzzle sense ITCH a little, as did "German opera highlight" (ARIE), but nothing to cause a CREDITSLIP for this constructor. :)


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Wednesday, May 11, 2022, Michael Paleos

A fun one from LOOSEEND to LEGREST. This is a puzzle I actively enjoyed while solving it, by which I don't mean that I don't usually enjoy a puzzle while solving it, but with this one, I found myself thinking, "oh, nice", "that's a good one", or "ha!" repeatedly as I completed the grid. Plus, as a member of the genus PARTYANIMALS myself, I really related to the theme. I especially liked "Tot's mount" for ROCKINGHORSE, but the whole gang, WILDTURKEY, DRUNKENCHICKEN, and RAGINGBULL seem like they'd be more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

A corral of merry makers isn't all that's on offer today. There was also a buffet of fun C/APs including:
"Willy Wonka prop" (CANE) - it works on two levels!
"Shake a leg, in Shakespeare" (HIE)
"Pitching statistic?" (NETSALES)
"Stretched to get a better look, say" (CRANED)
"'Right in the kisser!'" (POW)

I also really liked "Banjo spot, in song" (KNEE), but my favorite today is "Sound of spring?" (BOING) - ha! Fill-wise I liked ESTEEMS, EGESTS, and ESCALATES

I almost called the cops on ONCEOVER for "Cursory appraisal" but dialed it back when I refocused and stopped reading it as ON CEOVER. Given the question mark in the clue, "Streaming site?" I thought myself a real clever clogs when I entered ChEEKS, but a slug of WILDTURKEY finally helped me see straight. I also enjoyed "Like chewable calcium, often" (CHALKY) because what? 

Well, dear Readers, it's almost 9AM and I have got to get some sleep. :)


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Tuesday, May 10, 2022, Lou Weiss

A well orchestrated set of theme answers in today's puzzle: PREVAILINGWINDS, PULLEDSTRINGS, and PENTAGONBRASS - although that last group often isn't in tune with my way of thinking - together make up THESOUNDOFMUSIC, "Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'Do-Re-Mi' show, with a hint to this puzzle's theme." Fortunately, none of the the answers von Trapped me. My time for today's solve was six, going on seven. 

Here are a few of my favorite things. Fill-wise, I enjoyed HATCH, DOTH, and EDAM (who doesn't?), and AHOY. Clue-wise, I liked "Some labor leaders?" (DOULAS), "Stuff to wear" (GARB), and "Pageant coif" (UPDO). And how about Club MED? I haven't thought about them in an age. 

The only entry I have to reGretl is a near FWOE due to spelling variations of the name of the "Egyptian sun god." Thanks to the fabulous XWord Info clue/answer finder, I see  that the spelling in today's puzzle (AMONRA) has appeared 8 times in Shortz Era puzzles, and the spelling in Sunday's puzzle (AMUNRA) has appeared only three times. However, in an article in the most recent New Yorker that I read only yesterday, they used Amun-Ra, and that spelling, being fresh in my mind, is the one I went with. Fortunately, something about 'uOH' caught my eye in the nick of time. Edelweiss, the solve went very smoothly. 

So long, farewell!


Monday, May 9, 2022

Monday, May 9, 2022, August Miller

I am familiar with the adage, THIS TOO SHALL PASS (from the first words of the four theme answers), - it reminds me of my Mom, in fact, who uttered it with some frequency - but not only did I not know the source, I don't think I've ever even heard of ATTAR as the name of a person before ("Sufi poet thought to have coined the adage"). The second-to-last letter of the revealer was a touch-and-go Natick for this solver due to the classic conundrum, PTo or PTA? In an effort to prevent casual FWOEs, when I come to clues like today's "School fund-raising grp." and others like "Traveler's approx." I try to remember to leave the final letter blank until the answer in the other direction shows me which way the wind is blowing, but when both options are possible, a voice in my head says, TOOBADFORYOU. :) 

I had only one other clue-related trouble spot. At 25A: for "C-worthy" I started off with 'soso' instead of the correct OKAY. The only other slow downs were caused by my poor typing on a touch screen device. How many times in a row can a person type Z instead of A??? Turns out, it's a HIGH number. 

Anyhoo, on to more HAPPY things. I enjoyed "Revealed accidentally" (LETSLIP) and "Good name for a financial planner" (IRA) was a JOKE that was the cause of a  little laugh. I also really like, for some reason, PAT as a unit of butter. ERUPT is a great word, and SHAM is fun. Also - PARTYBUS - sign me up! I'll be the first to say THISONESONME. :)


OTOH, I found SEEP for "Percolate" a bit odd. Also, OBIT for "In memoriam piece" seemed a little strange, not because the clue and answer don't match up, but because there's no indication of an abbreviation in the clue, which seemed unusual for a Monday. But, maybe OBIT isn't considered an abbreviation anymore. 

All in all, a pretty fast Monday for this solver (5:26), but the under-five-minute solve continues to elude  me. EAU well, MAYA next time.


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Sunday, May 8, 2022, Matthew Stock and Chandi Deitmer


Some of these same-word two-word answers work very well - EXTRAEXTRA (Call from an old-time paperboy) (You almost want the clue to have included ("with '!'")), NAMESNAMES (Sings, in a way), and PEOPLEPEOPLE (Extroverts) are all terrific. MONACOMONACO (Grand Prix city) is, I suppose, technically correct, but no one says that. "Where are you going?" "Monaco." "Monaco what? Monaco, Illinois? or..." "MONACOMONACO, you Philistine." I suppose that could happen. And when I see the two central entries, I think of them being said three times. But two also works. Really, it's a fine theme. It was fun to realize what was going on, and it made the whole thing slightly easier to solve.

One of my favorite C/APs today is "Lunchtime estimate" (ONEISH). I didn't see that coming! :)

PESKY (Annoying) is a fun word, STALWART (Trusty to the end) is something you don't see every day, HIGHHORSE (Perch for the self-important) got a chuckle, and PARADOX (Logical conundrum) is always lovely. I had never heard of MOFONGO (Fried plantain dish of Puerto Rico), and I don't like UGLYCRY (Weep in an unflattering way, in modern lingo) one bit. It just seems like a way to make someone who's obviously unhappy feel even worse about themselves. With two Ys, I'm hoping its not too crossword-friendly, because I'd be glad to never think about the expression again.

I'm guessing the two little plus signs made of black squares are to be taken as thematic, and if so, I applaud the detail. I enjoyed the trick, but I guess it kind of felt like a Wednesday Sunday, if you know what I mean. :)

I feel like I've been a little bit cranky all week, but you're in luck because Frannie takes over tomorrow. I'll be back in a few weeks, and hopefully I'll have said IVEMOVEDON to whatever has been EATingAT me this week. Bye bye!

- Horace

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Saturday, May 7, 2022, Rachel Fabi

You know, I have joked a lot in the past about buying FIFTHS of this or that, but I never really knew how much liquid it was. Turns out, it was orginally a FIFTH of a gallon, which I guess makes sense until you remember that the quart was already an established unit. Anyway, that's 25 and 3/5 ounces, or about 757ml, and something about that particular volume of distilled spirits made it legal to sell outside of a bar in the U.S. Always so sensible, the U.S. of A.

In the seventies, the U.S. decided to go metric. Remember that? I do, I still have the a small metric ruler I got in grade school. Anyway, one of the changes that actually took hold was that the awkward imperial fifth was rounded to a metric fifth, at 750ml. And you know what else is 750ml? A regular wine bottle. I guess I always thought a FIFTH of liquor was closer to a pint, but that was way off. 

Elizabeth Stamatina "Tina" FEY

Anyhoo, that was one of many answers today that did not come easily to me. I had a heck of a time with STRIVEFOR (Target). First I tried SeteyEsOn, but that didn't work, then I finally got STRI from crosses, and it was only when I remembered Nikkie DEJAGER (Tutorials wouldn't fit!) that I was able to see that the last word wasn't "on." Whew!

And even though I've seen things like "Letters" for TENANTS before, I wasn't thinking that way today. And I don't remember ever hearing that Tartarus was HELL in Greek mythology. At least if I ever did, I didn't learn it. 

But enough about my problems. I enjoyed both grid-spanners - ITTAKESALLSORTS and CROSSOFFTHELIST. HANKERED (Had a craving) is a good word, HUGUENOT (French Calvinist) is a tricky spell, LASSIE (Longhaired star of 1950s TV) was fun. And I loved finally understanding TAG (Make it, gamewise) ("You're it!"). That's an excellent Non-QMC! 

Overall, I enjoyed the struggle. Best of the Turn for me.

- Horace

Friday, May 6, 2022

Friday, May 6, 2022, Aaron Ullman

The offset stack seems to be getting more popular, doesn't it? Here, the central three entries get less interesting as you go down. HEWENTTHERE ("Did I just hear him say that?!") is modern and hip, WINORGOHOME (Principle indicating "No second chances") is sportsy and macho, and then WINDOWFRAME (Outer border for 36-Across (PANES)) seems to have realized it was boring and just punted the clue.


On another topic, I'd like to know how many people actually bother to toast a POPTART before eating it. I know my father does, but I would wager that he is not a typical POPTART consumer. (Hi Dad! EOCENE (Big epoch for mammals) was my first entry today! :) ) I have, I guess, but if I were to somehow come into come into possession of a frosted strawberry one, say, there is zero chance I'd bother pulling out the toaster before biting it.

I'm torn about this puzzle. I liked certain elements - things like WOO (Court), ASITWERE (So to speak), and the new-to-me DADVICE (Fatherly tips, to use a portmanteau coinage) - but a lot of it seemed PROSY. "Skating expos" for ICESHOWS, "Traffic light" for SIGNAL, "Napa excursion" for WINETOUR. I mean, what else could they have been? 

And then there were others that tried a little too hard, like "Turn-on for a bartender?" (SPIGOT). Tap, sure. SPIGOT? Not very often, I don't think. I see that it can mean a plug in a cask, but that's not commonly known, and even if it were, how many bartenders are opening casks? "Blue print?" for SEAMAP? OK. And I did not like having to change HISTORYbuff to HISTORYNERD (One who loves to bring up the past). 

And I know I'm wont to say I enjoy old-timey answers from time to time, so I should have been happy to see SNOODS, EKE, TAT, FSTOP, ADE, and WAHINE, but today they just seemed DREAR

I did like seeing THOMAS in the grid. :) And TENABLE's a good word. A SPRINGFLING (Short relationship) is fun, and ADUNIT (Half-page, perhaps) was very tricky.

AAH, what are you gonna do?

- Horace

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Thursday, May 5, 2022, Adam Wagner

The Fibonacci SEQUENCE, which often begins with 0 and 1, and continues with the sums of the last two numbers (so, 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 3+5=8...), is frequently arranged in this way:

First described in 200 BCE in works about Sanskrit poetry, and later by Leonardo of Pisa (Not that Leonardo, this one was also known as Fibonacci) who used it to calculate the growth of rabbit populations. Those numbers get big fast, and that seems to correspond with visual evidence in our backyard, especially now that there are no more neighborhood cats. Sigh.

Anyway, that's my attempt to bring this mathy topic into the realm of words, where I'm more comfortable. And speaking of mathy, how'd y'all like STRAWY (Like some horse bedding)? Frannie says it's "gone round the corner" - so bad it's become funny. I tend to agree. 

Another way to bring the number into the real world is through nature - the SPIRAL of NAUTILI and SUNFLOWERS, as Mr. Wagner states, both appear to show the concept. And rounding out the theme we have MATHTEACHER, GOLDENRATIO, the grid art, and, I suppose, SCIENCECAMP and Terence TAO.

Some fun QMCs today included "An alternative?" (THE), "Propper noun?" (TEE), and "Turn on the stove?" (STIR). And on the other side, non-QMCs, we have "They seem to believe otherwise" (SECT) and "Opining opening" (IDSAY). 

A few unfamiliar threes and one near toss-up at the cross of KORUNAS and USC, but I guessed correctly and things turned out ok. 

Math... I suppose some folks will eat this up, and to them I say, Enjoy!

- Horace

p.s. I'm not terribly surprised that I missed a beautiful detail of the circled numbers - they are all on numbers in the Fibonacci sequence! That's a lovely touch, and I really do congratulate Mr. Wagner on this construction. Nice work.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Wednesday, May 4, 2022, Eric Bornstein

One thing I noticed about this puzzle is that it's not one of those that emphasizes its theme of ATTACHE (attach "E") by eliminating Es throughout the rest of the grid. Admittedly, that would be challenging, but today it seemed like many Down answers, especially, ended with a silent E - CHAPERONE, AVALANCHE, ELLE, DAME, LASE, TITHE - and a couple ended with the flagrant E of the theme - PEYOTE, OLE. Well, really only OLE ended with the accented E. And then there's TEE, ending with two, and EUGENE, which has got to be one of the only man's names with three. 

CAMERA (and lens)

Be that as it may, that added "flagrant E" and the wacky clueing in the theme answers still amused me. Turning "touch types" into TOUCHETYPES (People who acknowledge when they've been verbally bested?) got a snort of amusement out of me. As did GOTDOWNPATE (Managed to stomach a cracker spread?). The other two weren't as strong. GOESONTHELAME (Ruins a shiny fabric, as a pet might?) was a bit outré, and as I'm nearing grandpa age myself, I took some issue with PASSEJUDGEMENT (Bad advice from grandpa?). :)

I thought the fill, even with the preponderance of Es, was good. DEPTH (Profundity) is a lovely word, and SAND got a fun clue in "Castle material." And speaking of fun, LETSPARTY (Bacchanalian cry) balanced out the less fun INCOMETAX in the opposite corner. And speaking of opposites, the low-browed ANAL is countered symmetrically by the high-browed ARIA (Handel's "La giustizia," for one). So there is some justice, I guess. (Despite the news from the nation's highest court yesterday...) (Sorry. Too soon.)

- Horace

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Tuesday, May 3, 2022, Julian Lim

Today we find CHINESE DYNASTY ruling names in circled letters at the start of five longer answers. In chronological order, the dynasties are - Ch'in (Qin), Han, Sui, Tang, and Ming. And as a sort of bonus, we get CHOU ENLAI (... leader from 1949 to 1976). ANNODOMINI (Latin phrase before a year), running through three of the names, is somewhat related to the theme in that its another way of marking time. And the latter part of that phrase is echoed at 31-Down. See also 25-Down. WOW.


I appreciate the effort in tying together clues to try to make three-letter answers more interesting - "The first 'O' of O-O-O" TIC, "The first 'O' of O.O.O." OUT (That's "OUT of Office," sometimes also seen, apparently, as O.o.O. Me, this is the first time I've run into it, even though I was, myself, O.o.O. yesterday!). And were "Cube root of 1,000" TEN and "Oolong, e.g." TEA also included in that mini theme?

We try not to focus on the negative, but I was a little LEERY after encountering both GEES (Astonished exclamations) and DOHS (Homer Simpson's signature cries) in the first ten Down answers. And having ETTU, ETTA, ITT, and ATTABOY was a lot of Ts. 

I enjoyed the reference to the IGNOBEL Awards, and LICIT is a good word. Did anybody else drop in "script" for "Lines at the cinema?" (DIALOG). That was another good one.

- Horace


Monday, May 2, 2022

Monday, May 2, 2022, Erik Agard

A tidy little rhyme theme today: NEVEREVER, THIGHHIGH, HOVEROVER, and BEARSEARS. The last two are sight rhymes, but that still works. 


There's some decidedly non-Monday material today - LANDBACK (Indigenous reclamation movement), and KURTA (Loose, collarless shirt popular in India), for two. And I'm guessing FORTNITE (Online game with a Battle Royale mode) will need crosses for many people as well. Likewise DARLA (To whom Alfalfa wrote "You're scum between my toes!") (Yuck). And what is EBT? And don't say "Debit inits. on some SNAP cards," because what the heck are SNAP cards? (I'm getting too old for this game.) Even BEARSEARS isn't exactly Devil's Tower famous.

Anywho - all this to say that this one took me a minute or two longer than a Monday usually does. Nothing wrong with that, I just mention it.

The NYTX seems to be loosening up lately. Is Will Shortz on vacation this week? HALFASS today, yesterday WAP and FRAK... what next?

BREADTH (Counterpart of length), REALM (Domain), and PEAT (Stuff from a bog) are good words. All the "ea" words. You don't see CLERIC (Religious official) much - outside of Dungeons and Dragons, that is - and I always chuckle at audacious answers like HAHAHA. So overall, it's a fine start to the week.

- Horace

p.s. I have been informed that the theme is not just rhymes (as you probably already noticed), but two-word phrases where the second word is the same as the first word only without the first letter. Probably ought to turn in my reviewer badge for not picking up on this and letting you know, but, well, that's why you come here in the first place, right? For an original take? :)

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Sunday, May 1, 2022, Brandon Koppy


Well, this is a tricky trick! I started leaving blank spaces as soon as I hit DEAD HEAD, because really, what else could "Fan of the album 'Aoxomoxoa,' say" be? HARD ASS was a little surprising, but, well, all the crosses worked out. Then, once I finished, I had all those spaces, and I figured "That's never going to work," and I was right. So it was off to the note, which asked me to "look for an appropriate bonus phrase." When I had read this in the beginning, I figured it just meant there would be a revealer to explain that the puzzle would have some spaces unfilled, but no. There was no revealer. I briefly despaired, but then I noticed that HOT POT could accept a certain letter - S - in the space and be turned into a new phrase. HARD ASS could become "hardpass," ARM HAIR (eww) could become "armchair," and so on. And if you read all the new letters from top to bottom, you get "space out." 

Victor LASZLO, looking spaced out

So then I thought - hey, that's pretty NEATO! But even with all those new letters, my puzzle was still not accepted as complete. I went one by one through every answer, and then I went to xwordinfo, called up the finished grid, and went through every answer again. Still nothing. And Jeff Chen didn't mention anything about it. So I went to Diary of a Crossword Fiend, and there, in the comments, I learned that entering a hyphen would allow it to be accepted. Now, a hyphen works for B-SIDES (Back tracks?), but not for TOOK OVER, PER SE, GAS LINE, or, really, any of the others. So, the mechanics of the solve are disappointing.

But let's not dwell on that, because the trick is pretty impressive, and if I had solved this on paper, the way all puzzles would be solved in an ideal universe, I would never have run into this issue. Instead, let's move on to the part where we talk about good entries and clues, like PLANETEARTH (The Blue Marble). It's a nice image. I prefer Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" reference, but maybe that's me being a PEDANT. :)

Sometimes I find it comforting to see entries like OSIERS (Basket-weaving materials) in a grid. It's kind of like seeing an old manual typewriter in a closet, or a kerosene lamp. But maybe that's just me being a WEIRDO

It was a cute clue for ETPHONEHOME (Alien's line of communication?), and SOLARSAIL (Spacecraft's reflective attachment) and NEPTUNE keep the outer-space theme going. 

How'd you like it?

- Horace

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Saturday, April 30, 2022, Joe Dipietro

Well, the themeless puzzles in The Turn did not disappoint this week. Both put up hard fights, and had plenty of fun and interesting answers with tough clues.

I will register my official (not official because I have no standing other than what we have given ourselves by writing this blog) (maybe official because Will Shortz expressed a hope that we weren't going to stop any time soon) complaint about the 1A and 2D. It is certainly true that a BOG is often an archaeological site, and I didn't fall for the more obvious diG. I don't like the clue "During" for OVER. Of course, now, looking at it, I can't see why I thought eVER would work. Ah well.

I also had an error at the crossing of TANKA and TUGS. I tried lUGS for "Jerks," and have never heard of this particular Japanese poetry form. But this one I chalk up to a learning moment.

The three grid-spanning answers are fun and fresh. NEVERFELTBETTER is great, while GAMESHOWNETWORK is a fine answer whose clue was actually a little too easy for this solver. The best clue of the three comes at 56A: People may never get over it (BARBEDWIREFENCE). Hah!

Do they look wise?

Some other fun clues:

30A: Poorly written words (SCRAWL) - hits home for this doctor.

59A: Musical segment (ACTII). Nice the use of "musical" as a noun rather than an adjective.

12D: One working for a dictator (STENO). True in so many senses.

33D: About to be sold (GOINGONCE) - unexpected!


Tomorrow we turn things back to Horace. See you in a couple of weeks!

P.S. There is a theme to the pictures in my posts this week - any guesses as to what might connect them all together?

- Colum

Friday, April 29, 2022

Friday, April 29, 2022, Erica Hsiung Wojcik

Sometimes clues in crossword puzzles are tough not because they're so dang clever, but because they are so simple. Look at 1A: Clean (WASH) - so many possibilities here. And we're not helped out by 1D: Floats (WAFTS). I had nothing going there until the very end of the puzzle.

I had much more luck on the east side of the puzzle. ETNA led to ETHos (incorrect, but fixed later on), and the also incorrect loRd for SIRE. Nonetheless, I exited the corner with some momentum on the strength of the amazing and unusual THEREMINS. If you've never realized you've heard one before, you will when you listen to Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys. That's a theremin making the weird swooping sounds in the chorus.

I then skipped down to the SE corner, where the unfortunate ONION and the GASOL brothers made short work of this section. I liked 45A: Apple counter (GENIUSBAR) - counter as in a piece of furniture, rather than an accountant. From here, the very nice non-QMC 24D: It's on the road again (USEDVEHICLE) opened up SLANDEROUS, and finally we were off to the races.

MOSH pit

was my first long answer in the middle. 34A: They promise no hurt feelings (PAINRELIEVERS) is laugh out loud funny. And 30A: It's just you and me, baby (SOLOPARENTING) is also very nicely done. Three for three in the middle!

To work in TABULARASA and TRAGICOMEDY is lovely. I also enjoyed seeing FLIRTATION above TEENAGERS. Seems apt. Apt!

I'd say this is a well above average Friday themeless.

- Colum

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Thursday, April 28, 2022, Pao Roy

A simply lovely Thursday for the start of The Turn! I figured out what was going on about 1/3 of the way through solving.

How many of us had IMAGE at 1A: Thumbnail, and then took it out when filling in 1D: Part of a sun salutation, in yoga ([DOWNARROW]WARDFACINGDOG)? I tried upWARDFACINGDOG first, which, if you've ever owned a dog, is the slightly less cute dog position. I worked through the full side of the west and started up the middle, when I hit 19A: Hosp. hookups (IVS). That IVT in the middle gave me pause, and then I saw it.

It's just the sort of theme that can only work with your theme answers in the long down positions. For those who are unaware (or who maybe just never thought much about it), any puzzle can be flipped across the axis of symmetry from NW to SE and still work. So there is only convention keeping our theme answers as the long acrosses. 

Here, IV becomes a down arrow, replacing the word "down" in four common phrases. Thus GOT[DOWNARROW]TOBUSINESS, TRICKLE[DOWNARROW]THEORY, and KEEPSONTHE[DOWNARROW]LOW. Also very nice is how the arrow steadily moves down the grid as you go from left to right.

BAMBI and friends

Some fun clues today:

34A: Hamilton producers? (ATMS). Cute.

41D: Muppet whose self-identified species is "Whatever" (GONZO) - agreed. Don't let them pigeonhole you, Gonzo, and your pet hens.

38D: Sight seers (EYES). Indeed they are.

Fun puzzle.

- Colum

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Wednesday, April 27, 2022, Alex Bajcz

When I was a young lad, first year in college, I spent way too many hours in the rec room of the Freshman Union. Most of that time was spent playing pool, which I got reasonably good at over time. The rest was spent playing the Terminator pinball machine. Ah, the skills you learn in school...

All of which is to say that once again I had no clue what was going on in the puzzle today. And there's no revealer in the grid! I saw the circles, but couldn't make heads or tails of them. Fortunately, I checked the information button, which revealed that I had to read the circles in a clockwise manner, starting at the bottom, to find that they in face spell out P-I-N-B-A-L-L.

Thus, the "combo" of COMBOMEALS, "replay" of INSTANTREPLAY, "tilt" of TILTATWINDMILLS (very nice answer!), "flipper" of BURGERFLIPPER, and "bumper" of BUMPERCROP are all references to pinball machines. It's interesting that they bounce back and forth from the first word to the last word and back as you move down the grid, sort of like in an actual pinball machine. I would have liked it better if the flipper had been at the bottom, though.

Are we all lit?

We don't often see AKRONOHIO as a whole answer, and probably never see ALOEPLANT written out like that, but both are perfectly cromulent. 

But the puzzle shines with the cluing:

1A: One inclined to go in and out (RAMP) - that's lovely.

5D: Pretty trim (LACING). Not what I was expecting! By the way, these last two are great examples of non-QMCs at their best.

10D: Name often called in a smart home (ALEXA) - hah!

29A: What's often kept undercover? (SHEET) And a great example of a QMC.

- Colum

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Tuesday, April 26, 2022, Simon Marotte

I love finishing a puzzle and having to look back over the theme to understand what's going on. When it hits, that aha! moment is delightful.

Today, I had to read the clue for the revealer twice to get what was going on. The revealer itself, ROCKBOTTOM, was confusing. Was I supposed to add "rock" to one of the words of each of the starred answers? That didn't seem to help. And then I saw the word "musical" in the clue, and got it. Each starred answer's second word is the name of a well-known rock band.

My own personal ranking of the bands involved in the quiz? I thought you'd never ask. Clearly Queen is number one (DRAGQUEEN), with the other three in a jumbled mix afterwards. Probably I'd put Rush second (SUGARRUSH), and then I guess Kiss (AIRKISS) followed by Heart (CANDYHEART) with a lot of question marks. Thoughts?

It's a nice smooth grid overall. My only real complaint is 46D: Fire felonies (ARSONS). I don't really think that's a noun that can be pluralized. Multiple fire felonies is still just arson in my mind.

Other than that, I enjoyed SLURPS (but not in real life), APLOMB, a word which we all should use more regularly, and DREAMON.

MOTETS and HYMNS gives a little mini-music theme, while it's clever to put LIBRA and ARIES right next to each other.

- Colum

Monday, April 25, 2022

Monday, April 25, 2022, Li Ding

Happy Monday to everyone! I had the enjoyable experience of jury duty this morning. I was not selected, so I'm off the hook for another 6 years. I brought along my iPad and passed a couple of minutes solving today's puzzle, only to find out that my volume was on high, announcing to everyone when I'd solved it. Hee hee.

So... today's puzzle was cute: three well known individuals one real, and two created for the purposes of advertising, associated with food, and who have military titles. Because of this, they could be in a FOODFIGHT! It turns out that GENERALTSO did not create the recipe associated with his name (which would more accurately be transliterated as Zuo Zongtang). He lived from 1812-1885. Thanks Wikipedia.

I am more of a fan of CAPNCRUNCH than COLONEL / SANDERS. Although some of the recent advertisements have been amusing.


The corners of the grid are bigger than expected for a Monday, but the answers are all fair. I particularly liked LAGGARD, OCEANIA, ALADDIN, ALPACAS, and NAIVETE. Those are some fine 7-letter answers.

JSBACH will always be in my list of top composers of all time. 

Nothing much more to say here. A fine and smooth Monday puzzle that I finished in 2:37, tied for my fastest time. But more importantly, Phoebe my daughter finished today in 3:34! A worthy challenger arises.

- Colum

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Sunday, April 24, 2022, Sam Ezersky


Good morning to all! I've been somewhat absent from crosswording this past week, as things were very busy round here. Work was crazy, multiple rehearsals for concerts this weekend... you get the picture.

So I felt a little slow as I pored over this Sunday grid. Or was it Mr. Ezersky and his clever cluing? Either way, this puzzle took much much longer than a typical Sunday for me. Was it that way for you also?

There are eight theme answers, with one broken into two parts. The theme is simply adding -ET to the end of standard phrases, and cluing the resulting new phrases wackily. I love 48A: Today's plans: watchin' someone's kids? (SITTINONTHEDOCKET). It's perfect how the verb in the original phrase becomes a gerund noun in the actual answer. The exasperated WHATMAKES / YOUTICKET is laugh out loud funny.

APPLEJACKET and DARNSOCKETS are more neutral for me, while WATSONANDCRICKET is just silly. Pretty fun theme, which took me way to long to cotton on to.

LEGO Batman

Just a little insight into the difficult cluing today:

1A: Make a bust, say (SCULPT) - oof. What a great start!

72A: Happy companion (DOC) - nice hidden capital there! Took me a long time.

89A: Pie slices might be displayed in one (CHART) - didn't actually fool me, but I was stuck on grAph.

17D: Line on a neck (FRET) - just didn't see what they were getting at.

Some nice words also with XYLEM, BERNIEBRO, MERCH, and RICOTTA.

A fun tough puzzle, nice to see on a Sunday. 

- Colum

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Saturday, April 23, 2022, Matthew Stock

Greetings and good morning, dear Readers! My Saturday is off to a fine start, not least because I have successfully completed today's gridpportunity 12 minutes faster than my average time. Huzzah! Also, TGIF - sort of. No work for Frannie today, which is ULTRA nice, although I confess I did experience a brief SPASM when I read the clue, "What's spread on a spreadsheet" (DATA). Also, Wordle in 3 today! All things considered, I am sticking a feather in my cap and calling it MACARONI

Generally speaking, I thought today's clues varied a FRERE amount in difficulty, from the super-easy-for-this-solver like "1978 hit whose title is spelled out in its chorus" (YMCA) and "Online seller of specialty crafts" (ETSYSHOP) to the trickier "They can have you going the wrong way" (HEADFAKES), not to mention one from my new Achilles heel category: rapper names - LILMO, this time. But the feature of the puzzle I found slowed me down the most was one I associate with my esteemed co-blogger Colum Amory  points out: separate sections that function almost like mini puzzles on their own. I'd work my way through one corner, like the southwest, only to find that a TOLLPLAZA was my one only route to the next. Really not much to MOANA about, but a factor in degree of difficulty.

The bottom left corner was the most difficult for me. It contained today's Waffle Spot®, which came at 47D: "Thing: Sp." I thought of COSA right away, but then I thought, "no, that's Italian ... or is it?" It's trouble when all the Romance languages in my head start to MERGE. Also in that corner, for the "Peter Pan competitor" thinking of bus lines rather than peanut butter (JIF) slowed me down. Also, I had zipIT for "'That's enough out of you!'" even though I heard the correct CANIT from my parents often enough in my youth. :)

Several of the shorter C/APs in the puzzle had the trickiest clues, like "Off the mark?" for ERASE, "Much" for FAR, "Drove" for LED, "Fix" for PIN, and "Right on" for APT - apt! There were a couple of clues that amused but didn't fool me including "Something of miner interest" (ORE) and "Gram alternative" (NANA). One that did surprise me was FANTA for "Orange refreshment." Old school. I enjoyed the shout out to DISCGOLF - fun!

It's the end of my review week, so I'll make my "Departure announcement" and leave you in the more erudite and speedy hands of the doctor. BYE!


Friday, April 22, 2022

Friday, April 22, 2022, Daniel Sheremeta

Horace started the puzzle this morning while I was still looking at Wordle and I suffered a pang of dismay when he announced that he had run through most of the clues and had only the name of a poet to show for it. However, the dread came to nought as I zipped through this fun and fast Friday. I was able to drop in several answers like LIBIDO, MORSE - because what else could it be? - CERBERUS, and, believe it or not, BOGGS. And as I zipped, I very much enjoyed the bonanza of entertaining QMCs and ambiguous C/APs. Here are my favorite funny ones:
"Cheap trick, perhaps" (LIFEHACK) - apt!
"Decreases?" (IRONS) - ha! 
"Biblical figure with a large staff" (MOSES) - LOL.

I also enjoyed the trixy ones like "Drawing method" (LOT), "Regulation followers, for short" (OTS), "Holds up" (LASTS), "Turn" (GOBAD), and "Track, say" (SONG).


I did hit a couple of snags along the way, including trying ONEtoONE where ONEONEONE was wanted ("Dealing directly (with)") and skiING instead of TUBING ("Winter slopes activity") before I finally NAILEDIT.

The two grid-spanning answers BARENECESSITIES and PHOTOSYTHESIZE were nice. Fill-wise I liked word MOSEY and TINGE. On the other hand, call me an OLDSOUL if you want, but I prefer 'knelt' to KNEELED.

IMARET here, dear Readers, for this review is late enough as it is. My work has been getting in the way of me living my best life. I hope to do better tomorrow. See YULES then. 


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Thursday, April 21, 2022, Max Chen Lauring

Totally awesome SOLAR ECLIPSE theme today in which the letters [SUN] are "eclipsed" by a black square - like a rebus with a twist! Until you realize what's going on, a lot of one's desired answers seem far too long for the available spaces, but this, of course, is what eventually gives the game away. The pair I liked the best, and the one that helped me discover the hidden SUN was MIS[SUN]IVERSE/SAY[SUN]CLE, but I also enjoyed NES[SUN]DORMA ("Puccini aria popularized by Pavarotti"). The app I use to solve the NYTX showed a nifty giffy graphic of a solar eclipse in the four squares that hid the SUN once I completed the puzzle. 

A couple of clues I thought had particular flare were "Plant watcher, for short" (OSHA) and "Brief second?" (ASST) - ha! I also thought the parallax at 5 and 6 Down was neat: "Ukrainian, for one" (SLAV) and "Neighbor of a Ukrainian" (POLE). It was fun to witness the return of EFTS and ERNE. Thanks to XWord Info's fabulous clue finder I see that the former last appeared six months ago, but the latter, except for a very recent Sunday puzzle, hasn't been seen since 2019! Another once-in-a-blue-moon entry is EOLIAN. Less rare, but fun, is SPRIG


Not all is star dust and earthshine in the puzzleverse, however. This solver hit the occasional dark spot. Nothing of great magnitude, but a cluster of C/APs , including "Like the '5' of '5&10'" (LESSER), "Thumbs up from me!" (ILIKE), "'Only joking!', to a texter" (SIKE), and "Incessantly" (NOEND) could have used a little more sparkle.

However, it's not my inclination to wax negative. The theme brightened a day of work-based drudgery and now it's time for a Corona. :)


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Wednesday, April 20, 2022, Joseph Greenbaum

Today's puzzle includes four aptly named persons vis-à-vis their realm of celebrity. Our dear Readers will know that if there's one thing I like, its aptitude - or rather, aptness. Funny how those two words could mean the same thing but don't. Ahh, language. But I digress. The theme answers are indeed aptly named persons, with PRINCEFIELDER (six-time All-Star first baseman) winning the "captegory," thanks to the contribution of his first name. Although, if memory serves, there are some who call powerful enchanters TIM. USAINBOLT is also fitting. 

Overall, I found the puzzle to be fairly straight forward, although I did hit a snag. A combination of clues and miscues in the southeast caused me to FLAKE. The clues 48A: "Football carriers: Abbr." (?) and 64A: "Legally prohibit" (?) initially stumped me and I had the S of SEEYA in the second to last square of the answer to "More than right" which led me to try to think of a superlative rather than what should have been a comparative - had the clue not had a little twist - you get the picture. Anyhoo, if I had been a little less OBTUSE (or in this case more?), I could have finished the puzzle a couple of minutes faster. 


There were some other nice twisty clues along with the one mentioned above, including "Hold up" for ROB, "Shake, as a tail" (LOSE) - I didn't have trouble with this one during the solve, but after the fact I was like, 'whaa?' and then I was like 'oh, yeah, ha!' - and "Digging" for INTO. I also enjoyed "Mist a spot?" (SPRAY), and "Apple consumer with an unhappy story to tell?" (ADAM) was cute. Shout out to good ole EEYORE and his quote "It's not much of a tail, but I'm sort of attached to it." :) PRISTINE and TWINKLES are fun fill. 

I thought it was funny to see PLUSONES in the puzzle again today. I like it less in the plural, for some reason - ditto ENOKIS. And would any of the world's great writers have ever WAXED poetic over LASE as a verb? Certainly not Wordsworth.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Tuesday, April 19,2022, Olivia Mitra Framke

The puzzle has a striking theme today, featuring, as theme answers, things that can strike/do strike/have struck (?) including BOWLINGBALL, MIDNIGHT, LIGHTNING, EMPLOYEE, and, the one I like best, INSPIRATION

A couple of the more inspired clues were "Get in the game?" (ANTE) and "Place for a fork ... or a jackknife? (ROAD) - ha! I also enjoyed "Wedding guest's partner, say" (PLUSONE). I also liked the pair of pairs: SEA and MOANA, and the Xcellent EXPIATE and EXPEL. Fill-wise my faves were CHUM, DEFT, VELOUR, and MIRAGE. The only thing I found AMISS was TRYNA. It's not as if I don't enjoy SLANG - I am a subscriber to the Urban Dictionary Word a Day, after all - but it seems more like a kludge than a NEWTAKE
I'll conclude with a hopefully vague-enough-to-not-be-a-true-spoiler-alert: today's puzzle contains another NYTX / Wordle crossover event. Whaaaa? I usually do Wordle before I do the puzzle, but I may start switching that up and taking puzzle words as inspiration for my Wordle starter words. Genius!


Monday, April 18, 2022

Monday, April 18, 2022, Carl Larson

Carl Larson is playing it LOOSE today with all kinds of things. One must put the circled letters from the ENDS of each theme answer to find out what: CHANGE (CHALLENGE) and LIPS (LIQUICAPS) to name just two. 

I've always enjoyed the word TOTAL for "Completely wreck." I am less enamored of TOTAL's next door neighbor ABACI. Then, things got better again with PEKOE and EYEROLL. I should probably ANNUL the word-by-word review for everyone's SAKE.  🙄

Although I had no real trouble with the puzzle I did have a Waffle Spot® at 35A: "Fuss in front of a mirror." Without checking the Downs (as I sometimes lazily don't early in the week), the answer could have been PRimp or PREEN, so I typed in the initial PR and left the end loose - so to speak. It AOL came out right in the end.

Clue-wise, I liked "Sings out with a lot of power" (BELTS). Fill-wise, I enjoyed LULU and BUNDT. Also amusing was HANDY right next to ANDIE. But the answer I liked best today was TOLLBOOTH, which reminds me of my favorite book of all time: "The Phantom Tollbooth."

I sometimes wonder what Edgar ALLAN Poe would make of the popularity of his name with today's crossword constructors. Perhaps he would have written enjoyed it enough to write ANODE to puzzles while in REHAB. Too much?

Well, I think that WRAPSUP today's review, dear Readers. ICU tomorrow!


Sunday, April 17, 2022

Sunday, April 17, 2022, Emet Ozar


Happy Easter! 

I always looked forward to the egg hunt at our house. We'd dye hard-boiled eggs a day or two before, then Dad would hide them all over the downstairs rooms. We'd wait on the top of the stairs until given the ok, then run down and scramble around looking under chairs, behind pillows, on the piano... some of the hiding places we had come to expect - like the one that would be placed in a lamp where the bulb had been taken out, or the one on the windowsill behind the curtains... good times. So anyway, this puzzle was right up my alley.

I especially like how the rebusses turn into colored eggs when you solve online, but then they end up looking very strange - L[EGG]OMY[EGG]O (Breakfast brand tagline) for instance, looks kind of like "L0OMY0O." 

A fun thing about a rebus theme is that it essentially gives a puzzle that feels themeless, and you get nice entries like BOOTL[EGG]ER, R[EGG]AEBAND, and K[EGG]ERS without having to tie them together with anything more than shared letters. 

And we also get fun extras like PENCILMOUSTACHE (Apt facial hair for a teacher?), BRAINSTORMS (Things that might get written down on sticky notes), AWORKOFART (Something intricately detailed and impressive). 

I haven't been on an egg hunt in many years, so this was a fun bit of nostalgia. 

It's been another fun week of puzzles. Frannie takes over tomorrow. Happy Puzzling!

- Horace

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Saturday, April 16, 2022, Hemant Mehta

I can hardly believe I finished this puzzle. When I first started, I felt that dread that comes sometimes with late-week puzzles, but I threw in a bunch of guesses - Desoto (Famed Portuguese explorer (DAGAMA)), lemonadE (Summer cooler (SNOWCONE)), Esta ("De dónde ____?" (Spanish 101 query) (ERES)) ... until finally I hit one I was fairly sure was right - "The heart of Paris" was five letters, and "Seine" would have fit, but it's Saturday, so it just had to be COEUR. From that single O I entered shOrtSHORTS, which, after entering BIDON (Try to win, in a way) and ROhaN (1998 Robert De Niro crime thriller (RONIN)), I corrected to BOOTYSHORTS. Later on, BAMBOO and PANDA gave me something to work with in the South, and slowly I worked my way back up to the top.

CLOVER (Good luck with that!)

I ended up in the NE corner, where I had "tsarists" instead of PEASANTS (Russian Revolution figures) (opposite!) crossing "fist" instead of CAIN (Something that might be raised in a fight). I also tried "duke" in that spot... Finally, somehow, I got TALKIES (Silent counterparts, once), which gave me SKA (Forerunner of rocksteady) (that shouldn't have taken so long!), and then the highly amusing ONLAND (Where cruise passengers end up). Hah. That still makes me laugh, but maybe it's just that I'm still a little punchy for having finished this thing. 

It took me over half an hour, but it was a satisfying struggle. If this had been Puzzle Five I would have timed out, but I'm not in Stamford at a long table, I'm on my couch on a quiet Saturday morning, and (now that I've finished it I can say that) this is just what a Saturday puzzle should be. Terrifying, but workable. I could hardly believe it when GOTTACATCHEMALL (Line of Pokémon) came out, cobweb-covered, from deep in my memory.

So, for me anyway, it was a solidly satisfying Saturday. How'd you like it?

- Horace

Friday, April 15, 2022

Friday, April 15, 2022, Trenton Charlson

A fun, X-filled Friday from Trenton Charlson! That NW corner's got six of them - and three Ys! I was a little slow to catch on up there, because I had guessed Rex instead of ROY, and "dronecam" for "Means of supervision?" instead of XRAYEYES. But the "Kisses and hugs" eventually gave it away. :)


In addition to the Xs, there was a lot of reduplication today - YOOHOO, YOHOHO, ALLINALL, TAKETEN, OLIVEOYL, ARMYNAVY... well, maybe they're not all TEXTBOOKEXAMPLEs of reduplication, but there's something to it, no? How about TARTARE? Great clue for that one, too - "Rarer than rare." Lovely. Not to eat, mind you. Unless it's tuna. Tuna is fine. Not beef. ... Where was I?

Also included today is a micro-theme of the OSLO Accords and Yasser ARAFAT. The other two who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 were Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. Peres, incidentally, is sometimes called the "Father of Israel's atomic bomb." Rabin for his part in the peace accords, was assassinated the following year by a religious fanatic. 

I don't know about you, but I always have trouble remembering how to spell PYRENEES. I had two Ns in there today, but luckily, E. A. POE came to my rescue (Who wrote "All that we see or seem / Is but a dream within a dream." I learned that particular quote from the "Talking Moose," a lovely little computer program that we had running on our old Macintosh SE30. The moose would say different things at different times, and he always said something when you shut down the computer. Sometimes it was "Shut the hell down," (which Frannie and I still say quite often), and sometimes it was poetry. Ahh... the good old early computer ERA ...

One small thing - I don't see the NAVE as "One end of the narthex." From all the diagrams I can find, if the NAVE is one end, the other end is the cathedral's front steps.

ALLINALL, though, I thought it was a HOOT.

- Horace

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Thursday, April 14, 2022, Ashish Vengsarkar and Narayan Venkatasubramanyan

It's Thursday and, as usual, we have trickery! Today's revealer answers "Thoroughly ... or a hint for parsing some lower case letters in four of this puzzle's clues" with FROMSTEMTOSTERN. And if that were not enough, we also have the "M" in stem and the "RN" in stern circled. The idea, as you will have by now discovered, is to replace "m" with "rn" in the four clues. Depending on your eyesight, you might have seen the words as if they already included the rn, which is what Frannie said happened to her with SCOTTISHPOET. She had a lot of the answer from the crosses, so she filled it in and figured out the trick that way. Me, I had most of WHATAGOODBOYAMI, but I was reluctant to fill it in all the way because at first I thought there might be some slight change that would make the phrase applicable to the great epic poet. But no, with the substitution, it really is Little Jack Horner, not Homer, who is quoted.

I had several missteps along the way today, including NOSEring (NOSESTUD (Certain facial decoration)), OneSOCK (ODDSOCK (Laundry leftover)), and most insidiously, for me, PAYcAP (PAYGAP (Discriminatory compensation practice)). Now that I think of it, a pay cap might actually be anti-discriminatory, but while I was solving I was so sure it was right that I was willing to accept that I had just never heard of a LUc nut. (LUG (Kind of nut)). [eyeroll]

So I liked the theme, but I'd like to DING a few non-theme things. For one thing, the way I think of "snafu" does not align with the way I think of TELLS in poker. It just seems a little grandiose. I'd say I was AGASP (Sounding shocked), but no one ever says that, so I won't. :) 

On the whole, though, I'd say this was a fun start to the tum. ... er, the Turn. 

- Horace

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Wednesday, April 13, 2022, Rebecca Goldstein

Today we learn that the game PAPER, ROCK, SCISSORS is also known as ROSHAMBO. Perhaps you already knew this, but I didn't. We also get a visual representation of the game in which the ROCK has prevailed - in the upper left, we see a circled-letter PA PER cut in half, in the upper right is a broken pair of SCIS SORS, and at the bottom of the grid sits the intact ROCK. It's a cute idea, well-done.


The game was known in China several centuries ago, I have read, and it made its way to Japan, before coming to America. Perhaps the references to Japan in the puzzle (PANKO (Breading for tonkatsu), ASIA (Mt. Fuji setting), and ASAHI (Popular Japanese brew)) are in honor of this history. Or, perhaps, along with LOCHS (Awe and Tay, for two), LAPAZ (South American capital with the world's longest urban gondola), EID (Festival, in Arabic), MASA (Tortilla dough), and IMPERIAL (Like Rome starting in the first century B.C.) they are a mini-theme to go along with GEOTAG (Bit of metadata). Or maybe my NEATIDEA is MISPLACEd.

I chuckled when I finally corrected ahA to SPA (Therein lies the rub!), and GENOME (Nuclear codes?) was cute. I also had rAincoat briefly for GALOSHES (Wet weather wear), but that didn't last long.

The starting pair of "'That's good' thinking" (OPTIMISM) and "That's good thinking!" (NEATIDEA) was fun, as was the "One to tip" combo (SERVER, VALET). I didn't know CHOI, ROBBIE, or TERI, but that's not too surprising, and the crosses were all fair.

Fun idea for a theme, and a solid (like the ROCK, get it?) Wednesday. Looking forward to the Turn.

- Horace

p.s. I guess ROCK really doesn't win this one, because each circled item is "beaten" by another word in the grid. In the case of ROCK, it is covered by PAPER. In the morning, I missed this added touch of elegance. Very nice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Tuesday, April 12, 2022, Dan Schoenholz

Work, work, work. Today we get four specific jobs, punnily described using generic labels. The vague "Temp job?" humorously describes a METEOROLOGIST, and the ubiquitous "Union job?" labels a WEDDINGPLANNER. It's a clever RUSE, and each one brought a smile. 

DICE (Why were these ever popular?)

Don't you just sometimes get a good feeling about a puzzle from the clues? Today, they showed a clever playfulness - "Driving force?" (ENGINE), "One might take off a few marks" (ERASER), "What may be heard in a herd" (MOOING), and "Works in a theater" (PLAYS), for example. Then there are the interesting choices like "'Music is powered by ____': Yo-Yo Ma" (IDEAS) and "Spanish for 'foolish'" (TONTO). It could have just been "Thoughts" and "Lone Ranger sidekick," but these are so much more interesting. And we also get a nice shout-out to one of the great puzzle constructors, Frank LONGO. :)

Of course, we also get "Petri dish filler" (AGAR) and "Some lab liquids" (SERA), but one can't have everything, and I ASPIRE to one day creating a puzzle half as fun as this one.

- Horace


p.s. So, yesterday, if you follow Joon Pahk's "Outside the Box Puzzles" in any way, you might have seen an announcement saying that I won a free premium subscription by being randomly chosen from among the correct entries on a recent meta puzzle of his. In fact, it might be why you're here now (Thanks again for mentioning the blog, Joon!), but either way, I'd like to set the record straight and say that it was a team effort. I filled in the grid, but it was Frannie who broke the meta-puzzle trick. So thanks again, Frannie! Hopefully, we'll work on all the new puzzles together too. :)

Monday, April 11, 2022

Monday, April 11, 2022, Rachel Simon

Did you PICKUP the theme while solving? I sure didn't, but I enjoy the set of words that can follow PICKUP - lines, games, trucks, and sticks. Very nice. 


I liked KEEPOUT (Sign on a moody teen's door) and COLOGNE appearing side-by-side (although COLOGNE and teen-agers should not be mixed in real life), BLOSSOMED (Came into one's own) is nice, and TOETAP (Keep time with the foot) was unusual.

I'm OVER, entries like OAST (Brewer's kiln), ASPS, ADMAN, ANAL, and OTO, but I understand that they're often required to allow the good stuff.

So back to the good stuff we go - TADA clued as a "Cousin of 'Voilà!" was cute, and SHEAF is an unusual (and, often, therefore good) entry. Frannie particularly enjoyed DRY (Like some humor and wine), and the misleading "Record holder" for SLEEVE reminded me of a lovely experience I had last week - I went into a record store selling used vinyl to look for a birthday gift for a friend with a turntable. Flipping through the albums in their "recent acquisitions" was like being transported back in time. Zep Two was playing in the store, the records themselves were an eclectic  mix of 70s, 80s, and 90s titles, and even the motor skill of flipping through them one-by-one with my fingers felt distantly familiar. I know this is an old person's old argument, but something lovely was lost when music moved from LPs to CDs and then to nothing but air.

Anyway, that's my rant and I'm sticking to it. Solid Monday. See you tomorrow!

- Horace