Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Tuesday, May 31, 2022, Sam Buchbinder and Brad Wilber

I found AMPLE entertainment in today's puzzle, from good clue/answer pairs to an amusing theme. The theme is clued as "Suggestion to defer discussion ... and what might be said of 17-, 25-, 46-, and 60-Across." When I first read the clue, before having completed much of the puzzle, I thought the answers might be phrases in which the letters PIN had been inserted to comic effect, but no, it was the answers themselves that were amusing when read with the revealer, LETSPUTAPININIT, in mind: VOODOODOLL, CLOTHDIAPER, BOWLINGLANE, and ATMMACHINE. As I read the theme answers from top to bottom, my reactions went from nodding in agreement to COL (Chuckling Out Loud). 


Throughout the puzzle there was a real TANG to the cluing including some excellent QMCs like "Keep bumping into another punk music fan? (MOSH), "Place for a royal flush?" (LOO) - ha! - and  "Wreck room?" (STY). DIDO for the non-QMCs like "Spot for a guard at the World Cup" (SHIN)
"Gathering where one might make a splash" (POOLPARTY), and "Puts on" (DONS).

As if that weren't enough, we were treated both to quality words in the clues themselves like akimbo, stampede, and cavernous, and fine fill such as ASTUTE, MALADROIT, and CUSP. Plus Tupperware (LIDS)! A nice flourish was the C/AP pair "Not supporting" (ANTI) and "Supporting" (PRO), the latter of which, in case you haven't guessed it already, describes my stance vis-à-vis this puzzle. :)


Monday, May 30, 2022

Monday, May 30, 2022, Alexander Liebeskind

Speaking of NEWBEGINNINGS (which we weren't, but will be presently), it's Frannie here, at the top of the work week, although, I for one, am not working today. It being Memorial Day, many STAFF have the day off. I have no BEEF with that - AMOS satisfactory situation. 


Wait, AMMO start over. NOLAuadable reader needs that kind of review on a holiday, if you take my POINT. Oh boy, EARL try again. If I can just TERN this into something interesting. GEES, this is difficult. I start ORGAN and ORGAN, but, if I'm honest, ORATE the entire thing a complete fail. I fear I'm in PERIL of losing our vast readership unless I SEAS this chance to make a good impression. Sometimes, I can STEEL an idea from the theme and when I'm on a ROLE, there's no stopping me, but inspiration is SCANTY today. So BEES it. AISLE try once more to TYPES something SERTAS to entertain. Who am I kidding? That's ASTRO not gonna happen. 

Maybe I should give up trying to be NUMEROUNO. It's a TRAP ENSURE to ENDS badly.


Sunday, May 29, 2022

Sunday, May 29, 2022, Daniel Bodily and Jeff Chen


One hundred years ago tomorrow, the LINCOLNMEMORIAL was dedicated. It's one of many memorials to our first assassinated president, including the capital of Nebraska, the Lincoln Highway, and - some say - Lincoln Center. 

DOZEN donuts

The theme includes some nice black-square artwork showing his STOVEPIPEHAT, his BEARD, and the memorial itself. Plus a couple nicknames - SAVIOROFTHEUNION, HONESTABE, and the RAILSPLITTER. Not to mention the sly bonus theme answer ABET. 

Even with the thematically illustrative blocks of black squares, the puzzle didn't feel particularly blocky and went write along for this solver. I enjoy the notion of a HOBO spider haunting the train tracks, but I probably wouldn't want to travel with one. 

My favorite clue today was "Barely get wet?" SKINNYDIP. Ha! Fill-wise I liked CASHCOW and SACHETS.

In the mid-west I had a bit of a MaLT down - wait, make that MELT down because I didn't know EVA Green. I EGRET to say that because I didn't immediately know 48D, I became bittern.  

Other fun clues included "One making a racket?" CONMAN and "One-eyed giant?" HURRICANE

We're away from home today, and don't have a ton of time for this, so that's going to have to do until tomorrow. Ta!

- Horace & Frannie

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Saturday, May 28, 2022, Joseph Greenbaum

I love the pair of 1D and 3D - "Twitch, say" (APP) and "Word that sounds like a plural of 1-Down" (APSE). I know you've heard me say I don't like clues that refer to other clues, but there are exceptions, and this is one. Very nice. 

I thought that NW corner was filled with Saturday-ish clues. It set us up thinking about cars with 2-Down "Onetime subsidiary of G.M." (SAAB), and then when you get to 4-Down "Corolla part," with its false capital, it took me quite a while to transition from cars to flowers and put in PETAL

Fun clues abounded - "Activities for dummies" (CRASHTESTS), "It ends with a big splash" (WATERSLIDE), "Low joint" (DIVE), and "Port authority?" (WINETASTER), to name but four. And then there were more HAUTE-variety clues like "England's first poet laureate (1668)" (JOHNDRYDEN), "1980 black-and-white film that was nominated for Best Picture, with 'The'" (ELEPHANTMAN), "River of Hades" (LETHE). Fun fact - Lethe just came up in conversation last night! Well, sort of, I was reciting "To a Nightingale" to an unwilling audience. But that's a story for another time.

I did not finish this one ASAP, nor was I WIKI (Who knew?), but it was satisfying as it slowly fell. I hope you enjoyed it too.

- Horace

Friday, May 27, 2022

Friday May 27, 2022, David Distenfeld

So, ok, at first I put in "gaslights" instead of CATFISHES (Lures into a relationship by using a fictional online persona), because I can't keep all these new nefarious activities straight. With me, Dear Reader, you know where you stand. Sure, I write this blog under a pseudonym, but by now, if you address me as Horace, I'll answer. In fact, I do answer to it quite frequently at the A.C.P.T. :) Anywhoo, that error was quickly fixed, and the NW corner fell in no time. 

"Taste of The Danforth" Canada's largest street fair.

A couple observations about that corner - I have imagined a scenario in which someone hears FIGS! yelled from another room, and then asks INPAIN? to which the injured party responds SCALDED! That's the kind of thing that happens inside my brain as I sit looking at a blank blog entry. SEES, no subterfuge here. ("Rawr, rawr, rawr. No one understands you SHEBEAR.")

Where was I?

Frannie started enjoying the ITALIAN beverage options a lot more when we started ordering the HOUSEWINES at little places in Tuscany, and if any so-called oenophiles have a problem with that, well, it's their loss.

And speaking of tipples, I had cOsmo in for "Occasion for a high flute?" (TOAST), but I like the real answer better. Still, my first thought fit with mEr (Jacques Cousteau's milieu) (SEA) (false French indicator!) and otS (Parts of some bowls, in brief) (TDS), and unravelling those errors made the NE my final battle. Luckily, it was not my Waterloo.

It was DEF tougher than yesterday, and if tomorrow lives up to its name, I'm in for a nice long solve. See you then!

- Horace

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Thursday, May 26, 2022, Jonathan M. Kaye

Today, the Turn starts with that somewhat rare creature - the "Thursday that's simply harder than Wednesday and [presumably] easier than Friday." No rebus, no phantom letters outside the grid, no black squares actually being taken as letters or whole words... just a regular themed puzzle. 

And the theme is that classic 70s song "The Gambler," made famous by Kenny Rogers. Here's a thing I learned just now - that on that recording Kenny was backed up by The Jordanaires, who long before had more famously (perhaps) backed up Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline.

ELSA Peretti

So anyway, the famous chorus of that song becomes the clues for the four longest answers, and they are given clever, non-poker-related answers.

You've got to know when to hold 'em - WRESTLINGMATCH
Know when to fold 'em - ORIGAMICLASS
Know when to walk away - LOWBALLOFFER
And know when to run - ELECTIONSEASON

It's a solid set and an original (to me anyway) theme. So we can put CHECKS in those boxes.

With 1A being "The Winner Takes It All" group (ABBA) and Singer Diana (ROSS), I thought this was going to be a cakewalk, but now I wonder if Mr. Kaye was simply setting us up in the 70's music mindset. But then MOPTOP (Mod do) pushed it back into the 60s. Maybe that was for the Jordanaires? OK, I'm definitely over-thinking this...

My biggest challenge came in the SW corner, where AFEWZS (Forty winks) and MTETNA (View from Catania, in brief) were slow to come. I had even put in ZUNI (Pueblo people), but took it out after I entered WETS (Moistens) and SPAS (Places with springs) (Yes, I tried "bedS" at first...), because ___WZS solicited an OHDEAR

The cross of BIO (It might be in the form of a thumbnail) and LOLA (German film award akin to an Oscar) was my last entry. That's a tough cross, and I was really stuck on the idea of a thumbnail image before finally figuring it out. I mean, it had to be a vowel, right?

So no trick, but a fine puzzle nonetheless.

- Horace

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Wednesday, May 25, 2022, Christopher Youngs

I think this is one of my favorite types of theme - the "add letters to a normal phrase to make it absurd" theme. For example - take four things, a podcast, cranapple juice, med school, and a TED Talk. Most people have heard of all of them. Then, just because you can, jam the letters "ium" into them, and clue wackily. The result?

PODIUMCAST - Group of winners at a film awards show?
CRANIUMAPPLE - Target for William Tell?
MEDIUMSCHOOL - Where séance leaders get their degrees?
TEDIUMTALK - Lo-o-ong lecture from a parent?

OK, so only the last two clues are good, but I still like the idea. :)

I had never heard of LUCIAN before - in either context - as "One-named ancient satirist ... or a Pokémon character," and I didn't know that to DECOMPILE something meant to "Convert into a higher-level language, as computer code." Should I have?

Looking through the answers today I came to SHOT and, like the word "forlorn" for Keats, the very word was "like a bell / To toll me back from thee to my sole self!" Even the crossword cannot cheer my sad heart this morning. Pandemic, war, subway shootings, and now grade-schoolers. Again. 

O, for a draught of vintage ... that I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim.

- Horace

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Tuesday, May 24, 2022, Ella Dershowitz

We have a friend who enjoyed doing the Mini Crossword so much that she moved on to solving Mondays too. I will nudge her to take the next step and move on to Tuesdays, because she and her husband just got back a weekend in NYC where they saw two Broadway shows! Hadestown and A Strange Loop, and even though neither of those two featured today, I still think she'd like this puzzle. :)

If you hadn't realized what the circles were doing by the time you got to the middle, the revealer MUSICALCHAIRS made you sit up and take notice of four musicals in chair form - Newsies, Cabaret, Chicago, and Aladdin. A puzzle at the A.C.P.T. this year used this same convention, but with "sitting presidents" instead. I think it works well for both.


I've learned a lot about the EEL recently. Today I find it is an "ambush predator," last week that it could swim backward, and last month that, as a sushi fish, it is not served raw. Just three reasons that it is one of my all-time favorite crossword words. :)

"Place for a poser" (YOGAMAT) and "People who might bug others" (SPIES) were cute C/APs. CALUMNY (Slander) and RAWSILK (Material used for Indian dresses) (did you happen to notice that RAWhIde also fits?) were fancy entries, and "Sites of frequent touchdowns" (AIRPORTS) was a good non-QMC. 

On the whole, this puzzle had it all, fun clues, AHA moments ("Has an open tab, say" (OWES)), athletes (PELE), writers (AYN, POE, TAMA), musicians (WEIRDAL, NSYNC), candy (DUMDUM, SNOCAPS), and French (EAU, ARRET). Me, I liked it quite a bit.

- Horace

Monday, May 23, 2022

Monday, May 23, 2022, Simon Marotte

Fun start to the week! Four items that can be CAST to start off the theme answers - a net, a play, a spell, and a shadow. Lovely. 


I like seeing NETNEUTRALITY in the grid. It's sad that it's a topic of debate at all, and in all likelihood, it will soon only be remembered with nostalgia. PLAYPOSSUM is certainly a familiar expression, but when's the last time you said it? SPELLCHECK is a blessing and a curse (well, I guess autocorrect is really the curse part), and as for SHADOWCABINET (Opposition party group in British politics), I've heard of it, but I'd be hard pressed to explain it.

TALENTSHOW and SEEYALATER are nice as bonus long fill, and don't you think LEGALID should become a new word meaning "legal id?" It would be pronounced like "eyelid," but with one more syllable. 

STINKO (Drunk, in dated slang) is a word GROUCHO might have used, and ETAPE (French word for a leg of the Tour de France) seems a little récherché for a Monday, but all in all, I thought this was  a solid start to the week.

- Horace

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Sunday, May 22, 2022, David and Karen and Paul Steinberg


What is this, a 19x23 grid? I like it! And I also like that it was constructed by Mr. Steinberg and his parents! Very cool. 


I remember thinking he was gutsy and original after he made a puzzle that included the answer DAVIDSTEINBERG, but after that, I sometimes thought that I might be a little out of his target demographic. Perhaps the collaboration with his parents is what makes this one of my favorite Steinberg puzzles ever!

The "Separate" answers running down, then forward and backward, is a pretty phenomenal trick. I never like seeing clues that read "See 12-Down" - and there are eight of them here - but would it have been better to clue each of those answers with real clues? Frannie says it would have allowed people to solve it more easily without understanding the trick, and that might be true, but I'm not sure it would really take anything away... how did you REACTTO it? Would you rather have seen clues for STOPSIGNS, REVERENCE, etc? Or do you have NOREGRETS?

In addition to the theme, we have several good mid-length entries. The less-than-ideal MDPHD at 1A gives MASCARA, DETOXES, and PROGENY. As well as Shakira's HIPS Don't Lie. A fair trade-off, I'd say. 

Elsewhere we find the delicious ARANCINI, CITRON, and LAVACAKE. And I've got a soft spot for Wisconsin. I've actually never been to KENOSHA, that I know of, but I did spend four years in that state.

Good theme, good clues, good unusual shape - Good Sunday!

- Horace

p.s. Shout out to CECE!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Saturday, May 21, 2022, Ryan McCarty and Yacob Yonas

Tomorrow is the last day of my vacation, but today we go to pick up Cecelia from college, so that makes up for a lot. She's been super productive this year, and her art is just blowing my mind. Looking forward to having her around the house for a little while!

It's been a good week both vacation-wise and crossword puzzle-wise. Today's solve was sort of steady and non-stop. My only difficulty really came from putting in OPERACloak (is that a thing? apparently it is) rather than OPERACAPES. The clue does not give a hint as to singular or plural. I more frequently notice clues that indicate a plural but the answer is a group noun without an -S at the end.

I started out with 2D: Nipple ring? (AREOLA), confirmed by SAT and ALIT. It's one of my favorite ways to start a chunky white square grid like this, with the 3- and 4-letter answers that sit at the bottom of the NW corner. 1D: They can lead to long sentences (COMMAS) is an excellent non-QMC clue. 1A: Rolls dough, perhaps? (CARPAYMENT) was a tough get. I was thinking some sort of counterfeiting operation.

Jules et Jim

I was unable to exit the area however. I suspected YOUHEARDME was going to be something along those lines, but didn't feel comfortable putting it in. And 9D: Michelangelo, e.g. (NINJATURTLE) is such an excellent answer and vague enough clue that I didn't recognize which direction to go in, at least until I started the NE corner and ended up with JETSKIS.

In the SW corner, 35D: Positive impression (GOODVIBE) is a very modern answer. Nowadays I hear the word "vibe" used in all sorts of ways. Back in my day, we never thought of using it that way. Kids these days.

I like 28A: What a duck might be (BATHTOY) and 31A: Climb the social ladder, in a way (MARRYUP).  And as a final note, 51D: Results of some successful defenses (PHDS) is excellent.

Well, that's it for me this week. Back to Horace tomorrow. Have a great weekend!

- Colum

Friday, May 20, 2022

Friday, May 20, 2022, Hal Moore

Happy birthday to Frannie! I hope your day is as funny and clever as you are.

You certainly got a fun themeless puzzle for your special day. I have to assume that the seed for this grid are the crossing answers MOZAMBIQUE and VELAZQUEZ. I don't think you could chance into those entries. I love the trivia clues for both of them. Just for completeness' sake, the other countries with all 5 vowels are Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, and Equatorial Guinea, which manages to do it all in the first word.

So many good long entries today: LAKEGENEVA, SURFTHENET, CURRYFAVOR, and SUPERSONIC, to name a few. I like the word PRESCIENT as well.

I need to learn my chemical symbols. My first reaction to 25A: As seen in chemistry class? (ARSENIC) was "astatine," whose symbol is At. It's a fine clue though, with the hidden capital. But on a Friday, one's thoughts quickly turn to cleverness rather than straightforwardness.

Catherine OHARA and Eugene Levy have been together in a lot of things

Another sort of cleverness comes with pairings like 3D: Close (NIGH) and 18A: Close (SHUT). They look the same, but they don't sound the same. Even better when the two entries cross.

Then there's the sort of clue that seeks to go into the gutter, but actually doesn't. 64A: Its website has a "Fantasy" page (ESPN) is a good example. Our previously prolific commenter Huygens was wont to bemoan a lack of "blue" cluing, but here's one for you, sir!

Nothing really to complain about today, which is nice. I like the 10 Cs, the 3 Zs, the Q and the multiple Vs. Scrabble has its place in the crossword puzzle.

- Colum 

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