Tuesday, May 31, 2022
Monday, May 30, 2022
Sunday, May 29, 2022
A MONUMENTAL CENTENNIAL
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.
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
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.
Friday, May 27, 2022
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.
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!
Thursday, May 26, 2022
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.
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.
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.
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
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?
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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.
Monday, May 23, 2022
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.
Sunday, May 22, 2022
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!
p.s. Shout out to CECE!
Saturday, May 21, 2022
|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.
Friday, May 20, 2022
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.
Thursday, May 19, 2022
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.
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
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
Monday, May 16, 2022
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).
Sunday, May 15, 2022
WAY OUT WEST
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.
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.
Saturday, May 14, 2022
Friday, May 13, 2022
Thursday, May 12, 2022
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Monday, May 9, 2022
Sunday, May 8, 2022
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!
Saturday, May 7, 2022
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.
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.
Friday, May 6, 2022
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?
Thursday, May 5, 2022
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!
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
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.
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.)
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
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.
Monday, May 2, 2022
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.
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
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."
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?