Thursday, June 30, 2022

Thursday, June 30, 2022, Samuel A. Donaldson and Doug Peterson

Halfway through 2022! And hasn't it been a doozy of a year so far. It can only go up, wouldn't you agree?

Fortunately, we have the NYT crossword to take our minds off of things. And today we have a real fun Thursday tricksy one.

The revealer comes at 40A: Warning before a gory movie scene ... or a phonetic hint to answering four rows in this puzzle (COVERYOUREYES). If you were having difficulty answering some of the clues in the third, fifth, eleventh, and thirteenth row, join the club! In fact, the three separate clues should be read as one clue to a 15-letter answer, all four of which have two Is, which are "covered" by being in the black squares.

So in the fifth row, the clues "French," "Cake," and "Advocate?" combine to clue MAR[I]EANTO[I]NETTE, apocryphal originator of the statement "Let them eat cake" (or "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche," in the original French). It seems unlikely that she said this, seeing as how the phrase was well documented before she ever became Queen of France.

The other three answers are VEND[I]NGMACH[I]NES (Mechanical Snack Dispensers), DETRO[I]TREDW[I]NGS (Atlantic Division Skaters) and ALL[I]NONEPR[I]NTER (Home Office Convenience). The answers themselves are less interesting than the trick, which is really well carried out. I had to answer a lot of crosses before I finally figured it out (with row eleven).

The site of the entirely enjoyable series DERRY Girls

The remainder of the clues run light on misdirection and confusion, which is kind of the constructors. It took me a long time to figure out 34D: Top gear? (PARK), which is referring to PRNDL gear setups in cars. I definitely enjoyed the symmetric archaicisms of PETARD and KNELLS.

- Colum

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, Jared Goudsmit

Debut alert! Welcome to Mr. Goudsmit for his entry into the ranks of published NYT crossword puzzle constructors.

And we get the rare rebus Wednesday! The theme is revealed at 61A: Core exercises ... or a hint to eight squares in this puzzle (ABCRUNCHES). It's a beautiful explanation for why the other theme answers have AB in single squares. But more than that, each theme answer has two of them. Are we doing multiple reps here? 

The lovely [AB]OMIN[AB]LESNOWMAN is our 15-square 17-letter marquee answer today. We're so used to seeing "yeti" in the puzzle. How nice it is to see the cryptid's full nickname across the middle. 

I also like that the actual rebus squares are not predictable across the grid. It makes it a bit more challenging to figure out where the extra letters are going to go. I figured out it was a rebus in the NW corner, with 3D: Some horses (AR[AB]S), but was then pleased to see that GR[AB]BED[AB]ITE wouldn't fit without a second rebus. Confirmed by getting IN[AB]IT.

Some clues that slowed me down:

51D: Cool head? (HARDC). How many times will I fall for this sort of thing?

26A: Make a scapegoat of (BLAME). I had frAME. It works to some degree.

64A: Consumes, in a way (READS). So many options, from eating to burning up. I didn't consider this kind of consumption, although it's one of my favorites!

Fun and interesting Wednesday. Looking forward to The Turn!

- Colum

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Tuesday, June 28, 2022, Scott Graham

To tell the truth, this time through the Tuesday Times trickery took three ticks timing-wise to top the time this thinker took... 

Um, yesterday. 

Damn. It's hard to write with only words that start with T!

The puzzle is a cute one and quite odd for a Tuesday. The grid art gives away the theme: all of the black squares are in the shape of Ts. And 13A, 15A, 29A, 35A, 56A, and 57A are all two word phrases where both words start with the letter T. TOPTHIS indeed! It's a real TREASURETROVE of TT answers.

I had no idea what was going on until I completed the puzzle. I wondered when I entered SARTORIAL and had 15D: This is what a tailor seeks to provide (THEPERFECTFIT), but it was just a little mini-theme moment.

The corners are pleasingly chunky, especially for a Tuesday offering. I noted a few entries I could do without, such as partial ENTR and crosswordese ATRA, but really it's quite smooth. I like having both SHAFTS and TROUNCE in the same puzzle. Also, EDAMAME and COCONUT are fun things to have. I could do without VOTERID, to be sure. But it did not SMOTE me as unfair.

Personally, I'd rather take a BIER than HOTCOFFEE, but your mileage may vary.

- Colum

Monday, June 27, 2022

Monday, June 27, 2022, Drew Schmenner

Sincerest apologies to our readers for yesterday's confusion. I know how many of you rely on us for timely blogging. Horace hasn't said anything yet, but I expect a LATEFEE coming up soon. Turns out when you spend the weekend assisting your daughter in her move within Manhattan, little things like remembering that it's your day to start up blogging slip by.

Maybe I'll just pay Horace back by doing next Sunday's blog.

In any case, today, we get a lovely puzzle using the down answers for the theme. The revealer comes at 31D: What glows in the west at day's end ... or a hint to this puzzle's sequence of shaded squares (SETTINGSUN). It's beautifully managed, with the "sun" starting at the top and moving down three squares from east to west, finishing in the bottom three squares.

Also lovely: the word "sun" is well hidden in the non-revealer theme answers. Where possible (when it's in the middle of the phrase), it splits across two words, as in MISSUNIVERSE or MONKEYSUNCLE (love the clue here: Animal "relative" an astonished person may claim to be. Hah!). In the last example, it's hidden within SUNNIISLAM. Very nicely done.

I like that the two symmetric longer across answers are THEMESONGS and MUSICSCENE. That, along with IGOR Stravinsky, the ORGAN, and ELVIS's VIVA Las Vegas put me in the mood for some singing.

Otherwise, it's a very smooth and straightforward Monday, and a fine start to my seven days of blogging. Planned it all along.

- Colum

Sunday, June 26, 2022, Matthew Stock and Finn Vigeland


Hello, Dear Reader! It's me, Horace, filling in for Colum. I've always thought that when this blog ceases, it will disappear as quietly as it appeared - but that's not going to happen quite yet. Sorry this is a little late, but please do not take the timing itself as commentary.


The amusing theme today - er, yesterday - is movie titles that have had one extra letter added, with wacky cluing to match. The first one - "What you'll hear after-hours at a sports car sales lot?" for example, is answered with THESILENCEOFTHELAMBOS. "Lambo," being short for Lamborghini, a fancy Italian sports car. Another theme C/AP is the absurd "Winter wear for a stegosaurus?" giving JURASSICPARKA. Guffaw. Absurd and amusing.

I like that all the answers contain exactly one extra letter, with no other alterations to the titles, and if you remove all the added letters again and make them into a word, you get the appropriate "outtakes." Very nice.

I read over on xword (and this is just the kind of thing that Colum would have mentioned) that all but two Down entries cross at least one theme answer. That seems incredible, and you'd think it would force quite a bit of ACH-worthy junk, but aside from the usual IOU, CAF, NAV, etc., it's not too bad, and they even manage to work in some fun ones like STETSONHAT (Top of a range?), GOLFTAN (Shade that one might find on the links?) (I've always referred to that as a "farmer's tan"), and BOOKMAKERS (Odd's fellows?). What can I say, sometimes I like QMCs.

Overall, an entertaining Sunday. 

- Horace

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Saturday, June 25, 2022, Adam Aaronson

Today's puzzle proved to be a worthy adversary for this solver. I ended up with one of my highest solve times in a while (44:26), but I was satisfied with that because I *did* finish it with no errors. Huzzah!

Although I had trouble spots all over the place, the most difficult section for me was the southeast. I won't YAMMERON about all the wrong turns I took, but one in particular caused so much trouble I was about ready to SCRIM. At 37D: "Place where shells are put away?" I had the reasonable - or so I thought - PASTABAR. Didn't we just have NOODLEBAR yesterday? Anyhoo, that was the wrong kind of shells, my friends. When PASTABAR failed at various cross points, I tried 'tratoria' (maybe a variant spelling?), and when that didn't work, I was was stymied. As if that weren't enough trouble, off to the right, I headed down the garden path with "Apple selection?" by entering 'Icon' instead of IMAC. Derp. I also had the - again, IMHO - reasonable SUITSME for "'Why, yes indeed!'" When I did finally get the correct QUITESO, then and only then, could I see TACQUERIA, a locale that is not exactly in my wheelhouse. Also, way out in left field for this solver was "Standing at home, say" for UPTOBAT. While SAMSMITH and CAREBEARS are in my databanks, if you're wondering how much associated information is in there with them, I'd have to say NOTALOT. "Belly badges" were not in there, but they are now, for better or worse. The one thing that kept me going was that I *knew* "Rowlf the Dog and Robin the Frog, for two" were MUPPETS. REALMATURE. :) 

I enjoyed the very rarely seen "Soft-soap" for COAX - nicely followed up by a totally different kind of soap - TELENOVELA. And how about the very trixy "What comes before a bet?" ALEPH? For some reason, I enjoyed TAPETO as an answer. So random. "Draw" for LURE was very good. And how about, "Low call" for MOO. Splendid.


Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday, June 24, 2022, Sophia Maymudes and Margaret Seikel

Well, FWOE is me today, dear Readers. I got off to a good start with drop-ins like INCA, NOODLEBAR, and TIARA. And, even though I didn't know "Writer's org. with apt initials" I took a stab with PEN thanks to the aforementioned aptness that turned out to be correct. And speaking of aptness, TRANSAM is a not only a "*good* auto for an L.A.-to-N.Y.C. road trip," it is apt. Apt!

However, shortly thereafter things fell apart for me. I got turned around with SORORITYSQUAT. I didn't really "get" the clue and so guessed SORORITYSQUAd. That misstep, combined with an original guess of 'ase' for "Chemical suffix" that never got revisited, plus Mario Vargas LorcA (not his real name), not to mention the unknown-to-me Renee ELISE Goldsberry made a real jumble out of the southeast - one I didn't come back from. All of the above combined to give me a 37D of DESLACSO, which seemed sufficiently cromulent for a TV character I thought I was unlikely to know. (Just for the record, I *do* know of TEDLASSO and I enjoyed the show, but I didn't remember that specific quote of his, unfortunately). Anyhoo, this is just to say 
I have entered
the errors
that were in
the puzzle

and which
you were probably
were easy

Forgive me
they were ill-advised
so rash
and so daft

11D: FANNIE Lou Hamer
Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the puzzle? (Too soon???) Well, I did like it. I thought it was a lot of fun, even though not the most challenging Friday puzzle. My FWOE aside - if that's even a thing - I completed the puzzle in under 17 minutes. I particularly liked GOAPE and KANGAROOPOUCH, and who doesn't like PROVOLONE, CARTALK, and a TINYHOUSE? One C/AP I didn't, and still don't, understand was "Alternative to blinds" (ANTES). Maybe one of our dear Readers can elucidate the matter?


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Thursday, June 23, 2022, Jeff Chen

Quite a doozy of a theme today, if you see what I moon. Today's revealer, OXYGENATION hints at the fact that we should add oxygen, in the form of two OOs, to "inflate" each theme answer. So, for "Mood setters for a romantic dinner" for which you might want to enter 'candles' but find there are two too many spaces, you take a breath and expand the answer to CANOODLES, which is very nicely apt for a romantic evening. Apt! Bradley Cooper becomes, somewhat less aptly, BOORADLEY. Possibly least apt of all but still amusing, is the transformation from 'patties' ("Quarter-pound things at McDonald's") to PATOOTIES - ha. Today, it was necessary for me to figure out the theme in order to SOLVE the puzzle. Although I was getting the Down answers, the resulting double Os in the Across answers were too troubling to allow me to complete the puzzle until I understood what was gooing on. 


For a short time, the top middle section was all gloom and doom - I didn't think of JADE or JEDI, and I didn't know "Soccer star Maradona"'s first name. I also goofed and spelled Kristen WIIG's last name incorrectly at first. Oops. I thought my goose was cooked, but once I understood the theme, poof! the tooth was loose.

Some top nootch C/AP's gave the puzzle a breath of fresh air. "Adam's apple locale" for EDEN was fun, as was "It might get worn out" for ATTIRE. Also clever was "Readers may flip over it" for STAPLE; even when I had the answer it took me a minute to 'get' it.  "Wing it" for ADLIB was good. SYMBOLIC and REALM are nice fill. The new take on a clue for IMPEI was a boon for this solver - I never knew what the I stood for (Ieoh). 

As usual, got to scoot. Until tomorrow, dear Readers.


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Wednesday, June 22, 2022, Kate Hawkins

Clasping today's theme in advance didn't help me bolt through it - so nothing to Velcro about on that score. The first word of each two-word theme answer is a clothing fastener: ZIPPERMERGE, SNAPDRAGON, BUTTONMUSHROOMS, and PINSTRIPES. On the whole, I thought it was quite a good notion. 

Several C/APs caught my eye, including "Diamond official"  for UMPIRE and "Moving" for EMOTIONAL. "Jobs creation" for APPLE is a clever hidden capital. I also loved the clue "Pie nut" for PECAN. SPAT, DASH and ADO make a punchy midsection in the Downs. "Missing letters in 'transgre_s_o_,' appropriately"(SIN) is apt. Apt!


Folded into the clues themselves were some fun words and expressions like "Pony up" (PAY) and "Burgle" (ROB). "Lug" is another great word. And who doesn't think of the Monty Python "Spanish Inquisition" skit when they see the word HERESY? Buckle up for a YUK or two with that one.

I was happy to see another couple of Greek items in the grid including Athena's OWL and AGORA. I also enjoyed the French and German entries "vous" ETES and FRAU. And how about AFFOGATOS? Awkward plural notwithstanding, themz a great dessert treat. Too many of those -  not to mention Linzer TORTE - and you could find yourself swapping your buttons and zippers for elastic waistbands and stretch fabrics. That's a wrap.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Tuesday, June 21, 2022, Alex Eaton-Salners

I noted the "circle" squares in the grid as soon as I loaded the puzzle today, but didn't think about the theme until after completing it. It took me a minute to understand how the four theme answers hinted at/related to the revealer, SPLITSECOND. The first thing that came to mind on seeing the circled letters VEN US in NOWWEREEVEN and USE was the goddess - possibly due to my recent decision to start learning Greek (I know Venus is the Roman name, but still). After looking at the second theme answer AD AMS, was that it was famous women - Venus Williams and Amy Adams, but when I got to the third theme answer, TUES DAY, I finally caught on: each word in the circle squares is the second item in a known sequence that has been split. Venus was the planet, not the goddess, AD AMS was the U.S. President, not the star of Enchanted, and so on. Maybe if I had started at the bottom with BE TA, my study of Greek would have helped rather than hindered. Derp.

Anyhoo, C/AP-wise, I liked "Grimm sister" (GRETEL), "Headgear for Laurel or Hardy" (BOWLERHAT), "Exhibiting poor taste" (TACKY), and "Destination on a fast-food lover's bucket list?" (KFC) - funny, even though I don't take a KFC myself. 

Word of the week - so far, anyway - is GOBI. And, a completely new word this solver was ALETTE ("Small building wing"). Who knew?


We spent this past weekend with friends, one of whom is a librarian in a town that may renovate a building attached to the library to make a gym for town employees. We amused ourselves by coming up with book titles specifically for the gym crowd. One suggestion was, "Moby Dick, or the great white SWOLE" - which is what reminded me of the topic - but I see from the Wikipedia that the original title of the book is "Moby Dick, or the Whale." Be that as it may, here are some of the others we came up with:
"Ripped van Winkel"
The "Harry Squatter" series
"The Lats of the Mohicans"


Monday, June 20, 2022

Monday, June 20, 2022, Christopher Youngs

A solid Monday puzzle, plane and simple, with a boat load of solid Monday fare (ADO, RURAL, NIL) plus a few SPATIAL items like ELEGIAC and METTLE. DANK and CYST are evocative fill. BACKLASH and DAFT are also nice.

26A: SAL

Theme-wise, the second word in today's four two-word theme answers are said to sound like NATIONALS - people from a specific country:  EXITPOLLS (Poles), for example. I didn't think much about the theme as I solved, although I very much enjoyed 39A: "Large props held by contest winners in publicity photos" in and of itself when I entered the answer because I have a fondness for things of unusual size - usually miniatures - but it can also run the other way as with giant pencils, playing cards, and OVERSIZEDCHECKS - the financial kind, to be sure. :) I thought it was interesting that in the southeast corner, NATIONALS is crossed by ETHNIC ("Of a shared cultural identity"), and just below, we find ISMS. Other world locations scattered around the grid include the globe-trotting GOBI, SUEZ, Puerto RICO, INCAS, KOLN, ERIN, and the interesting LISLE ("Cotton fabric named for a French city). I was able to stick all the LANDings and enjoyed the trip. E pluribus unum, baby!


Sunday, June 19, 2022

Sunday, June 19, 2022, Jeremy Newton


A cute stop-light theme today, with seven stop lights showing various colors, and with each, you need to use the color with the Across clue, and the action with the Down. For example, 66A "Washington, with 'the'" is the EVER[GREEN]STATE, and 37D: "'That's a touchy subject'" is DONT[GO]THERE. On the other hand, 7A: "Range of light that's invisible to the human eye" is the INFRA[RED]SPECTRUM, and 29D: "Temporary solutions" are [STOP]GAPS. And in the middle, we have 63A: "Listed, obsolescently" (INTHE[YELLOW]PAGES, and in the Down slot, 43D: "'It's my turn' [or] Comment after rambling on," we have ILL[GO]NOW [or] ILL[YIELD]NOW. That's a nice touch.


As usual when faced with a bunch of traffic lights, there are very few uninterrupted stretches of road to enjoy. There are 8-stacks in the NE and SW, two of which are involved in theme answers, and there are four nines scattered around. I played a lot of STRATEGO (Two-player board game with spies and bombs) when I was younger, and I enjoyed the clue for UNGLOVED (Like one of Michael Jackson's hands when performing). "Treacherous places to land for eagles?" was a tricky clue for SANDTRAPS, and appropriate for the final day of the U.S. Open.

I thought RBIMAN (Baseball slugger, informally), VPPICK (Major political announcement before a convention, informally), and LOSEAGAME (Not stay undefeated) were all a bit, well... informal. But "Stage set?" was a cute clue for THESPIANS, and I, for one, enjoyed the deep-French-cut TRENTE (Cinq x six). 

It was a colorful solve. Frannie's back tomorrow!

- Horace

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Saturday, June 18, 2022, Brooke Husic

I FWOEd today on the tricky 21A "French, to the English?" I originally dropped in oath, but then, when I remembered TRITON (Son of Poseidon), I had to take that out. Eventually, I ended up with SNO_, and I didn't know "Anna with two Emmys for 'Breaking Bad,'" so I guessed that it must be SNOb. Rude, but ok, I guess. Then, when I didn't get the "Congratulations" announcement, I looked all around and kept coming back to that square! Finally, I ran the alphabet and landed on SNOG. Hmm. I like my original guess better. Frenching is a particular type of snogging, isn't it? 

But that's probably enough about that. 


I loved being able to drop in ALEXANDRIA (City with a famous library) on a Saturday, and it got me off to a good start. LIFEOFPI (Best-selling novel that begins in Pondicherry, India) was another gimme (even though I have neither seen nor read it). ACROPOLIS (Literally, "high city") is always lovely, MELONS (Noggins) was fun, and everyone loves the word "Inkling" (VAGUEIDEA). 

TAPSTERS (Barkeeps) and AERIALYOGA (Fitness activity done while suspended from a hammock), and KALI (Master of death, in Hinduism) are all new to me, but that's good on a Saturday, right? 

There are a few nice "double clues" like "It's nothing" (NIL, NADA) and "Supports" (BACKS, DEFENDS). And I'm with a bunch of friends this weekend, but sadly not the kind with whom I could hope for a NERDFEST of joint crossword solving. Unfortunate, really, because I think it would have helped me today. :)

- Horace

Friday, June 17, 2022

Friday, June 17, 2022, Pao Roy

Happy Friday! Today's grid is notable for its eight ten-letter answers, two elevens, two nines, and four eights. That's a lot of long material! 

FAKETATTOO might be my favorite thanks to its incredible clue - "'Mom' for a day, say." That's lovely. And INRAREFORM (At one's best) is a nice expression. I tried INfinEFORM at first, and that correction took until the very end, when I finally parsed out ERNURSE (Certain essential worker, for short) and then understood that it was a boxing BOUT that went "Round and round and round?" Lovely.

Richard PRYOR

It's a lovely clue for ARENA (Team building?), but I swear I just saw that very recently. If not here in the NYTX, then in the excellent puzzles I've been receiving through Joon Pahk's Outside the Box puzzle subscription. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for some different forms of wordplay challenge.

Let's see, other fine clues included "Theater props?" (OBIES), "Lengths of rulers, maybe" (TERMS), "Time to go in" (CURFEW), "They're rolled out once a year at the White House" (EASTEREGGS), and the very first one - "It was all a dream, maybe" (PLOTTWIST). 

One that I question is "Refuse" for WONT. If I put it into the sentence "I refuse," I can make it equal "I wont," but I don't like it. You?

Overall, while there was a lot in here that I liked, it still somehow didn't totally wow me. I've got the day off today, and when I finished this faster than yesterday's, I thought "Well, that's kind of an easy Saturday puzzle..." but then I realized it's not Saturday. So I guess that's not really a CON

- Horace


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Thursday, June 16, 2022, Parker Higgins and Ross Trudeau

I finished the whole thing today before I understood what was going on. But I wasn't really worried about it, because things looked odd right away, and then they got very odd, and with the italicized clues, and it being a Thursday, well, I guess I'd have been more worried if things didn't look odd.

POPDUO Sonny and Cher

So anyway, what we've got here is a variant of the old kind of rebus, where you look at an answer like NNNNICSCIENTIST and break it out into [four Ns]+IC scientist, or "forensic scientist." Which can answer "One performing a palm print analysis." Likewise "Pizzeria supplies" is answered with TOMOOOOOOOO, which we now know means "tomatoes." And I can't decide which of the final two is my favorite - "Attendees," with its absurd string of Ds, or the "Adorable sweethearts" - the "cutie patooties." OK, maybe that one. I wonder if that was the seed inspiration for the whole thing?

So, an amusing theme, but that's not all! The fun started right off the bat with 1A "Good or bad vacuum review?" (SUCKS) and ends with the cutesy SUDSY (In a lather, say). And is TOSSERS a hidden commentary on "Ones playing cornhole?" 

"High number?" was a cute clue for YODEL, but I thought "Something used to improve one's English" was a bit of a stretch for CUE. I mean, how are you going to get any English to improve without the cue in the first place? Something used to improve it could conceivably be "chalk," or "striking the cue ball off-center," but of course, those would not work with the crosses...

Nice shout out to my old friend gin with JUNIPER, and ICANTEVEN ("This is just ... too much") is nice and current. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable Thursday, and a great start to the Turn.

- Horace

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Wednesday, June 15, 2022, Rob Baker

Another day, another debut. And another uncommon theme! 

Diary of a Crossword Fiend has their saying "Tuesdays gonna tuez," but a while ago I countered with "Wednesdays gonna wooz," and I say it again now. Today we have a quote puzzle with a circle and a rebus. The clue for 57D "Rips [five letters]" explains that you need to put two letters into the circle in order to get T[EA]RS, but in the cross, the circle becomes a Schrödinger square giving either the static "stationary" or the paper "stationery." Very nice.

But all that rebusing and Shrödingering is in service to the quote: "NOMATTERHOWMUCH YOU PUSHTHEENVELOPE ITS STILLSTATION[E/A]RY." Heh. And yes, I know that "push the envelope" is metaphoric, but if you were to actually push one across the table, or into a mailbox, for example, in that moment, while still being stationery, it would not be stationary. See, that's the kind of in-depth thinking we get paid the big money for.

Elvis in KISSIN Cousins

In other news, I had never heard of Elvis's 1964 film "KISSIN Cousins," and when I Googled it and saw the image above, I thought someone had created that image as a joke suggesting that the premise was that he played his own male cousin and fell in love with himself. But I guess only the first part of that is true. Pity.

I enjoyed seeing the oh-so-useful SAWHORSE in the grid, everyone loves Winnie-the-POOH, and REPAST (Meal) is a word that always brings a smile. If I had more time, I'd look into the etymology of that last one for you, but today I've got to light out early. 

This one was odd, but not the ODDEST, and despite the philosophical problem mentioned above, I chuckled when I completed the quote, and that's always a good way to start the day.

I hope you enjoyed it, and that your day goes/is going/has gone well.

- Horace

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Tuesday, June 14, 2022, Robert Won

Yet another theme I don't remember seeing - the "break apart the theme answers and discover that the front half of each can precede the front half of the revealer, and the second half of each the second half of the revealer." As usual, experiencing the theme is better than describing it. So why am I blogging again? ... Wait - Look! What's that over there!


Lots of fun non-theme Downs today like INKBLOT (Rorschach pattern), STERILE (Lifelessly dull), BOONIES (Outskirts of the outskirts), and BISON (Plains figure replaced by Monticello on U.S. nickels). 


I was tricked by 48A: "Go a-courting?" and plopped in "woo," only correcting to the much cleverer SUE when the crosses protested. Also, when I saw 58D: "John of Salisbury" I thought "Who the heck could that be?" before filling in LOO with the crosses and chuckling at what an IDIOT I am. I even had to think twice about 62A: "Pisa dough?" (EUROS). 

There's a little ORS, DEFS, REN, ABU, TSE-type stuff, but overall, this was a perfectly serviceable Tuesday.

- Horace

Monday, June 13, 2022

Monday, June 13, 2022, Hoang-Kim Vu and Jessica Zetzman

What won't people think of? In today's theme, revealed by the word JUMPSUITS - the names of the four card suits are shown in shaded squares, starting on one row and "jumping" up a row before ending. A novel idea executed well.


I had a few "first-thought errors" (FTEs) today, including Eggedon for "Nudged" (ELBOWED), BIGSuiT for "V.I.P." (BIGSHOT), and pITCH for 50D "Get rid of, informally" (DITCH). That last was corrected by understanding the theme, and by knowing that there has been no Princess Piana.

I am not familiar with the term KTURN (Three-point driving maneuver), but I guess it makes sense, if you think of what the maneuver looks like from above. ALPE (French peak) is fine with me, but may be surprising to some Monday solvers, and although I am vaguely aware that there is a state in India called GOA, I didn't know it was the smallest one. I'm guessing it's also got the shortest name, but I'm not willing to put that out as a FACT without checking it.

Finally, I enjoyed the side-by-side belittling of Our Fair Land with the clues "Land between Can. and Mex." (USA) and "All vice presidents before Harris" (MEN). Everybody enjoys a friendly JIB once in a while, right?

- Horace

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Sunday, June 12, 2022, Will Nediger


Hello, Dear Reader. I trust you have enjoyed the past two weeks of reviews by Frannie and Colum. I've checked in as I could, but that little span was a whirlwind roller coaster ride for me. I'll not impose upon your time up front, but if, after reading whatever review I throw together, you have any interest in it, there'll be a little more and a question for you later.

EMMA Goldman

But first - "Didn't we just have this?" Don't I remember a Sunday grid published somewhat recently that used duplicate answers? It wasn't quite the same thing, but I definitely have that feeling that ITSDEJAVUALLOVERAGAIN. Of course, the puzzle could have run more like fifteen years ago, because I'm slowly working through the archive...

Anywho, the phrases using the repeated words are all pretty much perfect, and they made me chuckle, and what else can one ask for?

Well, I could ask for fun and/or interesting non-theme answers, and I get those too! "Body part that humans have that other primates don't" (CHIN), for example. Why did we develop chins? What's the advantage, other than it makes us all look so damn good? And on the other side, "The last thing a Mississippi cheerleader wants?" (ANI) was hilarious. Great way to spice up a three-letter answer.

"Chemical ingredient in flubber" (BORAX) is another nice geeky one, and "Crib sheet user" (BABY) is a terrific, tricky clue. Nobody ever thinks of a literal crib sheet. Hah! And right next to it - "Team building" (ARENA) was also great. And later, "One with a nose for gnus?" (LION) was cute, and "A pan might come with just one" (STAR) was lovely. Very nice work.


OK, so here's the thing - a week ago Saturday we had a big 90th birthday party for my Dad, an avid crossworder and one of this blog's regular readers. It was a great success - lots of cake, stories, friends, etc., but a few days later, he suffered a catastrophic eye event that rendered him unable to drive (yes, he was still driving), read, and, obviously, unable to do crosswords, Spelling Bee, or any other word game done on paper. I'm not sure exactly what the diagnosis is - macular degeneration or retinal hemorrhage (I think the former) - but it had already happened in one eye, and now the eye that was his "bad eye" has become the "good eye." Anyway, I know this is heavy - far too heavy for a silly blog - but I've taken the news almost as hard as he has, and Frannie and I are suddenly researching screen-readers and assistive technology to help him. If any of you know of a voice-activated tool that could read crossword clues and enter answers, let me know. And I guess if you know of technology that can be used to read pdfs of newspapers, I'd be happy to hear about those too.

So I'm distracted, but that's all I'll say about it for now. Thanks for listening. Carpe diem.

- Horace

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Saturday, June 11, 2022, Sid Sivakumar

A lovely Saturday themeless from this past ACPT's inaugural Wordle competition champion. Apparently Mr. Sivakumar had hardly played the game at all prior to the contest, and won it handily. Some people...

Interesting that yesterday's puzzle and today's puzzle both use four staircases of six black squares to different effect. Yesterday's was all about the intersection in the middle of long answers, while today's is more about wide open corners and 8-, 9-, and 10- letter answers.

Like yesterday, the NW corner was not kind to me, but I guessed the end of 13A: Some spandex garments (SHAPEWEAR), which gave me REEDY, and then 23A: Vehicles in "The Phantom Menace" (PODRACERS). Why has that stuck in my head? I did not particularly care for the movie or its sequels. 

Nonetheless, the NE corner went pretty quickly, including the lesser version of old favorite "Auntie Mame," and the clever 11D: AA and AAA (MINORS). I very much like the clue at 25A: Drawings with lots of little blocks (CITYPLANS). 

LUPE Fiasco

A mistake that slowed me down was putting in PIne for 23D: Ache for, in a way (PITY). That led to the questionable STEWPanS. As in, who ever made a stew in a pan? It would be very messy.

I had to restart in the SE corner, where "halfstepS" turned out to be incorrect in every way. I corrected to halfTONES with JARTS and JENGA, and then realized it was very unlikely that 38D: Wrapping weights (TARES) would end in H. All fixed, I was able to exit the corner, correct another error (rIal for LIRA) and finish my solve in a somewhat slower than desired 11:49.

Other answers I liked: 

3D: Pressure treatment? (MASSAGE). Nice. I enjoy one myself.

8D: They don't know what they're talking about (PARROTS). Too true.

34D: Abrupt change in tone, perhaps (TANLINE).

It's been a fun week. I hope you enjoyed your solves as much as I did! Tomorrow, it's back over to Horace.

- Colum

Friday, June 10, 2022

Friday, June 10, 2022, Blake Slonecker

Oof - this was a tough and fun Friday themeless! I found it harder than most Saturdays, but as they used to say on the old online bulletin boards, YMMV.

How perfect is the clue and answer at 1A: Puzzling start? (ACROSS)? I was quite amused when it finally became clear, which by the way, was at the very end of my solve. I had little hope in the NW, and really only broke in after working my way through all the way to the SE.

And yes, it was that classic crosswordese EKE that allowed real entry. I had a couple of clues entered tentatively before, but that K gave me OAKLAND, and then the old REESES tagline worked, leading to KANSAS and STANDS. I could not see 37A: Some sneaks (NIKES) at all, and so bombed out, and moved to the SW corner.

Thank goodness for Neurology! ODOR and BROCA were gimmes for me, leading to SNORES and NEWDAY. GUESSWHO fell next, and then I finally had some foothold in the double offset triple stacks of 11-letter answers.


The first one I got was BARGINGINON (based off of the last two letters). That's a good answer. PICODEGALLO was next, and everybody loves that sauce (INSOLENTLY? Too soon?). With the crosses, I was able to see SUREFIREHIT, and then GARAGEDOORS, which took way too long. I so wanted that to be something about drones. 

I love BORNTOOLATE, and its clue. That's fun stuff. COUNTERACTS was my last get, and the least interesting of the six.

Other fun entries include YEAHNO, which will always remind me in a different way of W1C, the crazy BBC comedy about working at the BBC. I don't usually take OMELETBARS, preferring standard scrambled eggs when cooked for me (not precooked in a container, like we usually see at breakfast buffets).

Good hard puzzle, IMO.

- Colum

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Thursday, June 9, 2022, Dan Ziring

I knew something was up when I couldn't fit AR[ET]HA into 5 squares. And I was certain when AH[IT]UNA couldn't fit either. But those are different letters! It can't be one rebus across the entire puzzle!

The answer comes when you answer 37A/39A (SHORT/FILMS). In each case, the rebus is a two-letter movie name: E.T., It, Us, and Up. I have seen two of the four, and Up is definitely the better of the two, although I did enjoy E.T. when it came out.

It's nice that SOULM[US]IC and the aforementioned Queen of Soul are both involved in rebus answers. The clue for RADIOED[IT]S is excellent. I had forgotten that "Forget You" had a more X-rated title in its original form. In fact, I had forgotten all about that song to begin with. Nowadays with Spotify or Apple Music, you don't generally hear the edited versions.

Did you chuckle at 23A: Distribute, as pinapples? (DOLEOUT). I had no idea where that clue was going until I had some crossings, and then I LOL'd. 

I find the pairing of HEISTED and SUGARED odd. These are two participles that simply were not begging to be created. I'm sure they're acceptable, just not used.

Not much else to report on here. I found many of the longer answers merely okay, rather than interesting or exciting, but it's perfectly fine as a puzzle. The one thing I learned was 69A: Genderqueer identity (ENBY), which is from NB, or non-binary.

- Colum

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Wednesday, June 8, 2022, Bruce Haight

Well, come on now, Dr. Haight. Now you're just playing for plaudits. You should know by now that the reviewers on this humble blog are suckers for puns. And you gave us five!

Take a simple phrase where one of the words ends in -ET, add an H to the end, and reparse it as a Shakespearean past participle. Clue in a silly way, and you've won us over.

By far my favorite of the theme answers is 24A: Citizenry doth work hard? (PUBLICTOILETH). That's so perfect. I bow before thee. 

FADDIETH is cute, and MARKETHPLACES works well. PICKETHLINES and MODELROCKETH are both also solid examples. Strong work today.


There are a plethora of fun clues and answers today as well. A smattering listed here:

31D: They may leave a lengthy paper trail (LITTERBUGS) - great non-QMC.

34A: Locale for drawers in the study? (ARTSCHOOL) - wow! Talk about torturing the sentence for a good cause!

42A: They may be close to reception (HOTELBARS) - and so might we be, TBH.

29A: Upstage, say (ECLIPSE). Great definition and fun word.

13D: Setter fetter (LEASH) - I did a double take at the clue, and then nodded.

4D: Months long couples retreat? (ARK). Holy Noah, Dr. Haight! You've gone off the deep end.

All right. This one's a win all around in my book.

- Colum

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Tuesday, June 7, 2022, Carly Schuna

Wow and welcome to Ms. Schuna, whose NYT crossword debut explodes onto the scene! It's not just the fun theme; it's also the smoothness of the grid, which despite being on a Tuesday, includes two triple stacks of 8-letter answers, all of which sing.

The theme is revealed at 58A: Big times in Silicon Valley ... or a hint to 17-, 25-, 35- and 49-Across? (TECHBOOMS). Each theme answer is a modern phrase related to technology that has a word that connotes loudness. PHOTOBOMB, TWEETSTORM, COMPUTERCRASH, and EMAILBLAST. All four are strong answers, and it's a nice tight set. My only complaint is the "spinning beach ball of death" is an incorrect term. It's the "spinning rainbow wheel of death." 

Fine, both are acceptable.

I'd like to bring your attention to the NE and SW corners. SONATINA, PROLONGS, and EATFRESH. So good. CRUMPLES, ONSAFARI, MIMICKED. Even better! Particularly with the clue for 36D: Watching the big game? I love it.

Everybody likes a good Mae WEST quote. She must have been an incredible person - so sharp and witty, and clearly in charge of her image. 

Keep up the good work, Ms. Schuna, and you'll be sitting in CLOVER.

- Colum

Monday, June 6, 2022

Monday, June 6, 2022, Michael Schlossberg

Sometimes Mondays hit with a thud. That’s the sound of you walking into the dense impact of the work week. On days like that, it sure is nice to have a crossword puzzle to solve to give you a few minutes of relaxation and relief.

Happy, therefore, to report that I enjoyed today’s offering. It’s fun when you have no idea what’s going on until the revealer comes at the bottom of the grid. Mr. Schlossberg surely STICKSTHELANDING here with a progression set of themes that trods closer and closer to entering the domicile, with a cheery HONEYIMHOME at the end. Although, to be fair, I don’t do most of those movements. I go from car into garage, then steps and door and I’m inside.

Niobe WEPT

But enough about the fun theme; let’s focus on a surprisingly fun clue for a Monday, which comes at 29D: Is unsuited to go swimming, but does anyway? (SKINNYDIPS) - Hah! That unsuited is so perfect. 

The symmetric answer (SPACESUITS) is not clued as amusingly, but seems apt (Apt!) in its placement.

If I were to carp at all today, it would be about the assortment of C related abbreviations (MCS, PCS, PCPHIC). Also ERIES seems inapt (Inapt!) as a plural which is not used. I understand (and Google backs me up), that the plural for Native American tribal names is simply the tribal name, typically. Thus, multiple members of the Erie tribe would simply still be Erie.

Ah well. It is the job of the critic to complain and of the artist to ignore, so let’s move on.

I enjoyed VIDI next to IDES. Perhaps ACTS could have been referenced to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar for the trifecta (see what I did there?).

Finally, I chuckled at 57A: Element suggested by NOPQ STUV … (ARGON). Two chuckles in one puzzle! A win for all.

- Colum

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Sunday, June 5, 2022, Christina Iverson and Katie Hale

Happy Sunday to everyone! The first one in June, and it's a beaut around by us. We had a big party last night to celebrate Hope's completion of her MSW, and so lots of friends, lots of food, and lots of cleanup. That's okay, though: well worth it.

Today's puzzle feels like it was composed with me in mind (as I'm sure it was, right Ms. Iverson and Ms. Hale?). To start with, the literary theme ("Patrick! Why didn't you tell me your aunt was literate?") hits home. Our constructors take six standard phrases, and add a single syllable to the last word, which transforms it into the name of a well-known author. Clue wackily, and hilarity ensues, as we like to say.

I like all six examples, although my favorite has to be 117A: Donates some copies of "King Lear" to the Renaissance Festival? (GIVESAFAIRSHAKESPEARE), because the revised phrase changes the word "fair" from an adjective to a noun in a very pretty way. I am also fond of PLAYSTHEFIELDING, both because Tom Jones is such a great novel, and also because it was the major area of scholarship my father was involved in. I didn't immediately get 55A: TAKESALONGWALKER until I googled "The Flowers" and found out it's a short story. Hah!


With six theme answers, there's plenty of space in a 22x22 grid for some great fill. Of course, I immediately loved 73D: Very rarely (HARDLYEVER) for its echoes of H.M.S. Pinafore("I never say a big, big D." "What never?" "No, never." "What, never?" "Well, hardly ever!"). Also nice is SOMEPEOPLE, and INHALES.

I'm not convinced by WRONGO, but I like it paired with SOITIS, clued right next to each other in the down clues.

And finally, we have to nod to SAL of childhood literature fame. I will always remember "Ker-plink! Ker-plank! Ker-plunk" from that book. Robert McCloskey is best known for "Make Way for Ducklings," and you can find the statues of his ducks in the Boston Public Gardens. Funnily enough, if you walk a little further up the hill to the State House, you'll come across the bas-relief memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th regiment of Black soldiers, whose story is told in GLORY.

- Colum

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Saturday, June 4, 2022, Scott Earl

It's not that I'm a LATERISER, but I was beset by a few difficulties in getting the review started this morning. For one thing, it's a red letter day: Horace's father turns 90! We're spending the day in a celebratory way, which involves cooking, cleaning, wardrobe changes, and other time-consuming activities and very little ALONETIME

I started the puzzle with a bit of trepidation as several vocalizations from Horace gave me the notion that this would be a tough one, but I finished it surprisingly quickly (for this solver) in 23:47. Many answers were in my wheelhouse ("It gets hatched in a fantasy novel" (DRAGONEGG), for one :), and the ones that weren't fell to some determined figurin'. :) 

My first break came fairly quickly, in the northeast. I was able to drop in TBAR, OATY, and BIOMES, which made the Down answers over there easier. Then I worked my way left and down with GLEE

Entries that gave me some  difficulty were "Source of oils unsed in wellness" (TEATREE) - don't know it - "Kind of motel" (NOTELL) - if I did know it, I wouldn't say - and "Playground 'immunization'" aware of cooties, of course, but because my first train of thought maybe thanks to the earlier entry OBAMACARE and the current pandemic, ran to more science-based innoculations rather than the less reliable COOTIESHOT.


My toughest corner was the northwest. I've never been to or encounted an In-N-Out burger emporium - and even if I had, would I know about the SECRETMENU? I don't know. Unfortunately, neither have I flown to Honolulu, which would probably have helped with the name of the airport (INOUYE). Also, OCTAD didn't leap to mind for bits in a byte. Once I puzzled my way through the section, though, I particularly liked the pair of clues at 5 and 6D: "'Me, too'" (YEAHSAME) and "'You, too?!'" (ETTU) - ha. 

Other GEMS in the grid today:
"It may be screwed up" (BULB) - apt!
"+ or - something" (ION)
"It's a matter of degree" (ANGLE)
"Course you need a compass to navigate?" (GEOMETRY)
"Medium strength" (ESP) - ha!

A trio of personal favorites including NECCO, MORSE, and, of course, The MUPPETSHOW.

Well, I got to get my ROLLERS on, peeps. I leave you in the capable hands of my esteemed co-blogger Colum, who will, I'm sure, offer discussion of more constructive ASPENS of puzzledom in the coming week. 


Friday, June 3, 2022

Friday, June 3, 2022, Robyn Weintraub

Another lovely puzzle from Robyn Weintraub, full of clever clues like "Images of Pluto, perhaps" (CELS), "It's down in France" (DUVET), "Small-business partner, perhaps" (MOM), "Path at a university" (TENURETRACK), "Looks like a jerk" (OGLES), "Take a plane to" (SHAVE) - ha! - and "Private dining room" (MESS) - such an excellent semantic flip between initial clue reading and final answer.

I hit a mite of trouble only in the middle bottom section. I duped myself with "Dollar alternative" and went for 'avis' at first, rather than the more straightforward EURO. I 'knew' the last name of "'Cheers' actor George" - at least I thought I did - but turns out I didn't. I tried WENtz, but that made it difficult to find a "Place to park" SPOT. :) And speaking of misspellings, over at 33A, I spelled LEVAR Burton's name with two As and didn't check the corresponding Down, so I officially FWOED, but if I *had* checked 26D: ("Assist on the job"), I would have realized I needed to change that first A to an E. Just sayin'. :)


I was vaguely troubled by the clue at 43A claiming that "The average American spends over four hours a day on it" (PHONE). My average is more like 4 minutes a day. I just don't FANCYTHAT, but maybe I'm not NORMA. :)

I enjoyed today's anagram pair of TROT over TORT. I also enjoyed all the fun long entries including CIRCULARFILE, DUTYFREESHOP, SOLARPANELS, and my favorite, sound-wise, CRUNCHTIME.

And speaking of crunch time, IRE better get this review posted! 


Thursday, June 2, 2022

Thursday, June 2, 2022, Michael Lieberman

An unusual and trixy theme today: for the theme answers to be understood correctly, one needs to add either 1 Across or 1 Down - and by that they mean the words "across" or "down" rather than the puzzle entries in those locations (BACK and BEST). It is the lack of the hyphen (1 Across, not 1-Across) that tips one off - or, at least, tipped this solver off when puzzling over how to fit UPSIDE[DOWN]CAKE into a 10-square span ("With 1 Down, dessert sometimes made with pineapple.") I enjoyed the symmetry of two "across" theme answers and two "down" answers, all of which were good entries. 

While my solve was not exactly a KNOCK[DOWN]DRAGOUT fight, I definitely struggled with it (solve time: 21:36) even though some of the clues were right in my wheelhouse, like "Dostoyevsky novel, with 'The'" (IDIOT) and "Three-time Emmy winner Cicely" (TYSON). I blame it on getting my second booster shot yesterday. I woke up feeling like a truck hit me - ICANTEVEN. Anyhoo, my neurons may not have been firing on all cylinders, but still I enjoyed the tussle with crafty  and entertaining C/APs like:
"Saw" (ADAGE) - past tense of 'see' much?
"Farm delivery letters" (CSA) - not RFD. Derp.
"Hero feature, often" (MAYO) - I was duped!
"West of Malibu" (KANYE) - I never think of him.
"Accrue in large amounts, with 'in'" (RAKE) - apt!
"Great place to visit near Michigan?" (LAKEHURON) - ha!
"One behind The Times" (EDITOR) - cute.
"Ursa minor?" (CUB) - LOL! 

Interior view of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France

Although the solve was slow, I didn't have too many false starts. I did, at first, enter 'finnS' for "Some Nordics" because "the other two" didn't fit. I forgot about the DANES. THATSONME. I wasn't super keen on "Made a bank getaway?" (SWAM), which I thought was a bit of a stretch, but I did like "Stretch for the stars?" (LIMO). 

Funny to have RAIL and RIAL right near each other. Also of note, according to the fabulous XWord Info, Billie EILISH makes her NYTX debut today. Horace and I first became aware of Eilish when we were in Utrecht and walked by a line of young humans that seemed to go on forever, all waiting to get tickets to one of her shows, maybe even more people than HANDS[ACROSS]AMERICA. YIKES


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Wednesday, June 1, 2022, Chase Dittrich

Hello, Horace here, filling in for Frannie, who has turned in one of her "Get out of reviewing free" cards. 

produce being MISTED

If you're like me, which in this case seems unlikely, you didn't even notice that this puzzle contained circles until you filled in the second theme answer. Even after wondering why the Yellow Pages no longer contained PHONENUMBER info and letting it go, I came to ANDCRAFTS and was forced to look for something more. And that something was circles. The missing first word of each theme entry is found in the circles, giving [HOME] PHONENUMBER and [ARTS] ANDCRAFTS. Later on, [FEAR] OFTHEDARK and [COIN]COLLECTIONS rounded out the theme answers. I would have been happier to find that the four circled words could be strung together into a revealer or something, but perhaps that's asking too much.

In the fill, the standouts for me were EMBASSY (Washington post?), REGARD (Aspect), and ROAD (Shoulder's place). I thought STEAMCAR (Early vehicle that could take up to 30 minutes to start) was a bit of a stretch, and while I'm happy that the JAWSOFLIFE (Rescue tool at a crash site) exists, I'd rather never see it again in a crossword. Even MIASMIC (Full of noxious vapors) in its unusual form is preferable.

Not much else to get excited about today. Perhaps it was a good one for Frannie to miss, although at least she would have given you a funnier review to make up for it. But fear not, she'll be back tomorrow. :)

- Horace