Sunday, July 31, 2022

Sunday, July 31, 2022, Jesse Goldberg


When I saw the title today, and then read the clue for 9A, "Got too scared, with 'out,'" I quickly decided that there would be some kind of "chicken" theme. A chicken rebus, or we'd have to have it "cross the road" into another clue or something... I thought I was so clever. Figuring it all out, and on the second clue! 

Mr. Spock with a TRICORDER

Well, as you well, know, that was not how things went down. Instead, we have Ys that are inserted into phrases that don't usually have them (BELLYBOTTOMS (Places where some belts are tightened?)) and taken away from phrases that do (COMBATREAD (Stephen Crane's 'The Red Badge of Courage,' e.g.?)). So already, that's pretty fun, but then we get to the revealer, WISEUPTO, and realize that each time a Y is inserted into a phrase, it's been taken from the exact spot that it was removed from in another phrase and moved up two squares in the puzzle. Now that's fancy! I mean, really, how is it even possible to make that work out? 

Amazing. In other news, ENYA continues to have a big week in the crossword. I was fooled for a while by "Server error," thinking about "file somethingorother," but no, it's a tennis FOOTFAULT. Also, I did not remember learning that Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts was DEAF. Interesting. And why did I enter "Gauze" for "You can see right through it," when the obvious answer was GLASS? I guess I was not TUTU awake yet.

Well, it's been a fun week of puzzles. Tomorrow, I think Frannie takes over, but we're on vacation, so maybe she'll try to enlist one of the many other family members that we're sharing a house with to either do it or help with it. We shall see. Tune in tomorrow, same HAFDTNYTCPFCA time, same HAFDTNYTCPFCA channel.

- Horace

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Saturday, July 30, 2022, Lance Enfinger

The week began with a couple debuts, and it ends with one - a lovely, challenging, triple-stack Saturday. Welcome to the fold, Mr. Enfinger, I am already a fan.

Crayola in EASTON

Way back when, when I first started doing puzzles, long, grid-spanning stacks struck fear in me. All that empty white space! Then, once I had solved a bunch, they struck fear for another reason - all those short crosses! But this time, the stack is run through with fives, sixes, nines, and elevens! And almost all of them are sparkly! I don't take a FILETMIGNON, but you've gotta love that as fill, complete with French clue "Literally, 'dainty slice'" (well, I would have said "cute slice"). "Simple kind of question" (TRUEFALSE) is strong, too. I kept wanting to stretch out yessornoo. LEADBALLOON (It's not going to fly) is a heavy hitter, and SLIDINGDOOR (Future-altering decision point, metaphorically) slides into the stack nicely. 

Once again, my upbringing stood me in good stead for OPERETTAS ("Iolanthe" and "Candide," for two) (I dropped that right in), but even though I was thinking of the gambling kind of whale, I could not for the life of me think of HOTELCASINO. (Don't bet on me at the crossword tournaments!)

Even the small stuff running through the middle is strong. It starts on the left with the FIC (False Imperative Clue) (I had to look that up in our own glossary!) "Scratch that" (ITCH), and continues with a real imperative clue "Get outta here!" (SHOO). And on the other side, the word ERST always reminds me of Shakespeare's sonnet 12, which is nice.

There's just so much good stuff I could talk about in here! DENOTE (Mean) (tricky!), LILTS (Pleasant cadences) (tried LopeS first), BLUNT and CHEF (Pot holder) (uhhuhhuhhuh...), EELS (The ancient Egyptians believed they were created from the sun hitting the Nile) (Whaa?!), ONNOTICE (Warned), STOMACHS (Bears)... HELLNO (Rude "Forget it!"). It's all good.

It's a fantastic debut. I'll be happy to see Mr. Enfinger's byline again.

- Horace

Friday, July 29, 2022

Friday, July 29, 2022, Robyn Weintraub

What a lovely start to my vacation, a Robyn Weintraub Friday puzzle! 

She's opened up her BAGOFTRICKS and filled the grid with fun and games. Right of the bat we get ATARI (Breakout company of the 1970s) ("Breakout," the game), and next comes the great combo of 7D: "Where a town in Wyoming was once sold (for $900,000)" (EBAY) and 6A: "What 7-Down is pig Latin for" (BEE). Hilarious.

They're not all SHOESTORES

There's a nice little theme of drinks and parties, including ICE (Something can't be neat if you add this), DRAM (1/8 oz.), ANIS (French liqueur flavoring), THEDRINKSAREONEME, TOGAPARTIES (Fun times between the sheets?), and PINATAS (They're broken just for fun). 

I love the clever, misleading clues like "Area around the mouth" (DELTA), "Liquid weapon, or a solid one" (MACE), "Lead-in to a street name, perhaps (AKA) (really lovely), and "Hall of fame collaborator?" (OATES). That last one is a real stretch, but I still enjoyed it.

My recent Greek lessons in DuoLingo paid off with "It's written as a vertical line bisecting a circle" (PHI), my earlier lessons in Dutch made BOER (Dutch for "farmer") a snap, but my eight or so years of French did nothing to help with the 1970 #5 hit (Ma Belle AMIE) until I had a cross or two.

And how about "Sound of an unsuccessful attempt at stone skimming" (PLOP)?! Hah!

I loved all of it. Thanks, Ms. Weintraub. :)

- Horace

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Thursday, July 28, 2022, Bill Pipal and Jeff Chen

It's a strange puzzle today. There are circles appearing in seven squares, all positioned in an upper-right corner. They are double-checked in that they are used in the Down answers, and together, in order from left to right and top to bottom, they spell out the word "corners," but they are ignored in the Across answers, which need to make a turn at those corners and use all but the circled letter in the Down answer to answer their own clues. Still, the circled letters, if added to the first part of the Across answers, make a word, which is a nice touch. 

Why should it be that this is so? We find that out with the littlest revealer I have ever seen - CUT (With the circled letters, a hint to solving seven Across clues). And now it all comes clear - we need to cut corners in order to make those Across answers work! While solving, I filled in the revealer without ever reading the clue, and if I weren't writing the reviews this week, I might never have understood it. So... yay?

BOSC pear

Was there a meta-theme within the theme? The first Across answer is ANTI_AGING, and I feel like that somehow relates to the old-timey HOME_EC, DON_KING, and LIVE_AID answers. :)

Really, it's a nice theme, now that I understand it. And in non-theme, we have the lovely RHAPSODIC (Extravagantly emotional) up top, and the fun CANOODLED (Engaged in some amorous behavior) below. SALLOW (Opposite of ruddy) is a ten-cent word, BEDHOGS (Ones always taking cover?) was fun, and it's always nice to think of various MILNE characters. 

Overall, a solid start to the Turn.

- Horace

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Wednesday, July 27, 2022, Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

A Wednesday wardrobe puzzle. In the long Acrosses we find:

I like STUFFEDSHIRT and EMPTYSUIT the best. I've heard from people in the computer security biz that the term BLACKHAT is being phased out to avoid the "white = good/black = bad" message. 

And in the Downs we get a SLITTED gown and a CAFTAN, and the verb WEAR (Represent, as a designer at a fashion show). And I suppose a SPUR could be an article of clothing... or is it just an accessory? For me, these additional related entries dilute the theme a bit.

GENA Rowlands

I enjoyed the French pairing of ETOILE and EAU, both off the same E. And OMNIA vincit amor is always nice to see. POPSICLE, ODYSSEY, and TICKTOCK ("Time's running out" sound) were nice long bonus fill.

My solve time has been going Down on all the puzzles this week: 4:53, 4:42, and 4:05 today. And I guess today's did feel more like a Monday to me - no resistance, and a theme that kind of hangs together, as it were, but doesn't really thrill me for some reason. 

- Horace

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Tuesay, July 26, 2022, Lillian Simpson

It's a shame that I already had cereal for breakfast, because now I want FRIEDEGGS. The great thing about eggs, though, is that they're also perfect for lunch! I have a yearly physical in the afternoon, but I've already done the blood work, so cholesterol be damned! :)

It's another debut puzzle today, and I've already read over on that Ms. Simpson doesn't even like eggs! In that she is like Frannie. Although Frannie will take them in a COOKIE or a cake, and sometimes scrambled, if I make hers a lot CHEESIER than normal. Me, I love two over easy, with yolk like LAVA that I SLATHER over toast. And with a last crust of bread I'll mop up any RESIDUES on the plate. OK, perhaps I need not INDULGE in so much detail. Who ASKED me anyway?


In oblique thematic material I find POACHERS, NEST, and even PREGGO, a state which relies on the OLDEN crossword favorite "ova." 

We saw a ROSHAMBO-themed puzzle a while ago, but I still needed a cross or two to remember that name. And I was happy to see ITERATE - a word I learned through doing crosswords, and that I now hear versions of far too often at work. "It's an iterative process," "We need to iterate as we go along," ... SNORT! But no one ever starts a wrap up with "To iterate, ..." it's always "To reiterate ..." Why?

Anywho, the week is off to a great start. Two debuts, and two novel and interesting themes. What oh what will Wednesday bring? We shall see!

- Horace

Monday, July 25, 2022

Monday, July 25, 2022, Michael T. Buerke

Today's theme is an interesting, non-OVERT take on a vowel progression, going through the five ONEBYONE at the BITTERENDs of:

And speaking of vowels, I was thrown off for a second by the missing "E" at the beginning of the author's name. Has she dropped that entirely now? Perhaps I haven't kept up.
It's a little too bad that Mr. Buerke couldn't work in something like "tableaux" (is that acceptable in English?) for the fourth one, then he could have done all the vowels using high-point Scrabble letters. But then, that wouldn't have started with "PR" ... hmm... perhaps that's why they had to go with the straight O. It's a pity, because that's the only one that is what it is, but I see the dilemma. And maybe that BLAH right after it is a cry of exasperation for having been forced into that corner... Still, I liked this one quite a bit.

Is it just me, or has the word ARSE been in the grid a lot latetly? Is Will on vacation? Did Ezersky take over? ...

I liked seeing BREADBIN (Place to store a loaf). We had one when I was young, I think, and I sort of always wanted to get one, but we don't really have the counterspace for it, and we aren't buying that kind of loaf that often. Still... nostalgia. :)
The clue "Rap lead-in to Jon or Wayne" was cute for LIL. I see what they did there.

It's a rare Monday that offers an unusual new theme, and I say we're off to a good start this week. What'd you think?

- Horace

p.s. It's a debut puzzle! Congratulations, Mr. Buerke!

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Sunday, July 24, 2022, Jessie Trudeau and Ross Trudeau


An unusual theme today, in which five Down answers are the names of roads:

MASSPIKE (Easternmost leg of I-90, familiarly) (Love it.)
EVERGREENTERRACE (Home of the Simpson and Flanders households) (Gotta love a 16-letter gimme!)
PENNYLANE (Where all the people that come and go stop and say "hello," in a 1967 hit)
RODEODRIVE (Noted shopping mecca)
PENNSYLVANIAAVENUE (One side of D.C.'s Federal Triangle)
and all end on an E that completes the word "Rome" in an Across entry.

And in the Across entries:

BICHROME (Two-colored) (More commonly "duochrome" when I've heard it)
IMPOSTERSYNDROME (Habitual fear of being exposed as a fraud) (Which is how I felt when I was forced to change "impostor" to "imposter" - yecch!)
AERODROME (English landing spot) (ok...)
ETHANFROME (Edith Wharton's "ruin of a man") (I've heard the story and I don't want to read it!)
ALLROADSLEADTOROME (Aphorism that's visually depicted five times in this puzzle's grid)

Everyone (except the Romans, obviously) loves novelty, and this was novel to me.


"Hits high notes in high places" was a cute clue for YODELS, it took me forever to get BEAU for "Bearer of roses, maybe," and "Split, then come together?" was a tricky way of getting at ELOPE.
And finally, I dropped in DISCS for "Ultimate needs" like I was lobbing one right over the head of a defender to a teammate in the end zone. Sigh. Would that I were thirty again, with young knees, young lungs, and a field full of friends... 

And on that wistful note, I leave you, but only until tomorrow. Or possibly even tonight. The Monday comes out at 6pm on Sunday where I live, and who knows, I might just pen my third review in a single day. I think that would be a record for me. :)

- Horace

Saturday, July 23, 2022, John Lieb

A nice, chunky Saturday grid. There were narrow entries into the NW and SE, but once there, the middle was wide open. 


I was happy to see Mr. Lieb's name today, because he is co-founder of the Boswords tournament, which starts tomorrow. I never ended up signing up for this year's tournament, for a variety of reasons that I won't (somewhat surprisingly, perhaps) go into now. But one of them, I'll just say, is this heat wave. I just can't think. 

That said, I was able to eventually finish this Saturday puzzle, after working through a few false starts. Like EATcrow for "Suffer abject humiliation" (EATDIRT), and sLalomSKIER for "Super-G competitor" (ALPINESKIER). The real answer is, of course, better, because the slalom and the Super-G are, after all, different events. [rolling eye smiley]

Another early mistake was entering "tapir" for "Animal whose name means, literally, 'nose'" (RHINO). I was thinking that RHINO couldn't be right because there was no indication of a shortening of the name, but I guess it's Saturday, and all bets are off. FWIW, tapir apparently comes from an indigenous Brazilian language, and it means "thick," referring to the animal's hide. And it's funny that RHINO crosses NARWHAL (Monodon monoceros, more familiarly), isn't it? 

If an EGGTOSS were only a shell game, it would be a lot less tension-packed, wouldn't it? And are there really people who are "corrupt by nature" (BADSEED)? I like to think not.

Just a couple musings for ya. That's what happens when I end up writing an extra review. :)

Some nice C/APs: "Joint venture?" (POTFARM), "Opposite of cut" (ATTEND), and "Has a list" (LEANS), and a few ten-cent entries: RETINUE (Entourage), SOLFEGE (Method of music education) (I had to do this in Music Theory class - good times), and GNASHED (Ground), made this an enjoyable solve.

- Horace

Friday, July 22, 2022

Friday, July 22, 2022, David Steinberg

How'd it get to be Friday already? These weeks speed by sometimes.

Mr. Steinberg has had a reputation as a challenging constructor in the past, but I think he's smoothed out his style nicely over the years. I'm sad that I FWOE'd this one, and it came on 1A: [Ooh, you're sexy!] (RAWR). I put RoWR. Could the French phrase have been "O là!"? Possibly. I get that "À la" is better. In retrospect, of course.

The rest of the puzzle went reasonably swimmingly, however. I actually broke in with 21D: Company behind the Hula-Hoop and Frisbee (WHAMO), a gimme if ever there was one. I worked my way up into the NE corner, with a lovely LEMONSAUCE and the famous phrase "It's door die!" Oh, wait. I misparsed that (ITSDOORDIE). 

5A: Bed in the kitchen? (RICE) was the first of a number of odd QMCs today. This one works fine. We'll get to some others later on. I was unaware of how many string TRIOS Haydn wrote, being more familiar with his 68 string quartets. Apparently he wrote 20 some odd trios for the standard violin, viola, and cello, but over 120 for the baryton, viola, and cello. Baryton, I hear you ask? Yes! It's related to the viola da gamba, and is not played much any more.

21A: Butt of a joke? (WHOOPEECUSHION) almost works. I just can't quite parse the clue to make it fit. Or maybe I don't want to think about it too hard.

24D: Bolt for the finish line? (USAIN) also doesn't quite work, in my opinion. I get the connection, but it doesn't parse well.

42D: Latin lovers, officially speaking? (POPES) is my least favorite. It's funny, that last piece of the phrase. I get that when the Pope puts out an edict, it's in Latin. Anyhoo, YMMV.

WHITNEYHOUSTON gets some well deserved love. And UTTERBORES is excellent.

Perhaps the best C/AP in my opinion is 34A: Like Goliath, in the Bible story (SLAIN). Yes. Yes, indeed.

- Colum

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Thursday, July 21, 2022, Anne Marie Crinnion and Eric Bornstein

We've had some chatter over the years here at HAFDTNYTCWPFCFA as to the aesthetics of clues such as 21D, 31D, and 59D. Namely, "-." On the one hand, the clue gives away that something weird is going on here. On the other hand, cluing the answers separately runs into giving away the overall theme. Or maybe it would make some people miss the theme entirely? I'm torn. 

In any case, today's theme is great. 46A: Options at the top of a computer window ... as seen three times in this puzzle? (DROPDOWNMENU) is such a good revealer for what's happening. In each case, a long answer drops the last four letters into a down answer, each of which is a menu heading in most computer programs: "file," "view," and "edit." 

The menus are well hidden in their respective answer, including HIGHPROFILE, SCHOLARLYREVIEW, and STORECREDIT. The last one is the best, because it's not just the last syllable. Also, extra points to the constructors in having one of the dropped menus cross into another theme answer at the crossing of 21D and 27A!

Also, my eyes immediately wanted to play the same game elsewhere in the puzzle: POLISCI/RKS? HAWKISH/ON??

At least I amuse myself.

From yesterday's Spelling Bee

Some fun clues today:

11D: Noted web developer (SPIDERMAN). Nice.

16A: Neither over nor under, but a round? (EVENPAR). Wow!

2D: Paper strip (COMIC). Oof - tough one.

And who knew that about OCELOTS? It's disturbing just to think about.

Fun Thursday, coming in at a quick 5:10.

- Colum

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Wednesday, July 20, 2022, Josh Kindler

For those of us who hail from the Boston area, it's always amusing to see actors or others imitate the classic Southie accent. Multiple people have tried and failed, even those who have mastered other accents (c.f. Benedict Cumberbatch in "Black Mass"). So I like today's puzzle because it feels like Mr. Kindler got it right.

It's not just about turning -AR into -AH. The A has to flatten out, so it sounds more like a short O. And that's exactly what we see here: "dark comedy" turns into DOCCOMEDY. "Missing the mark" into MISSINGTHEMOCK. And each clue gets a different Boston flavored touch, although I would have liked more of the MGH or Harvard Lampoon touches, rather than "Beantown" or "Boston." PICKACODANYCOD is the best of the bunch for sure.

I found the puzzle played on the hard side today. My last cross was where 24D: Scottish island home to Fingal's Cave (STAFFA) met 38A: Part of a botanical garden (FERNERY). I absolutely ran the alphabet. And then ran it again. Fingal's Cave, by the way, was memorialized in a truly beautiful Felix Mendelssohn overture.

I always get OPI mixed up with "Oxo," the kitchen tool brand. I also put in uRaNuS for KRONOS

But enough about me. ICEICEBABY is a real throwback. And 26D: Got the point? (SCORED) is a fun QMC. General ZOD will always hold a place in my heart ("Kneel... before... Zod!").


- Colum

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Tuesday, July 19, 2022, Andy Kravis

I am generally impressed when a constructor fits five theme answers into a standard 15x15 weekday grid, but even more impressed when that same constructor finds ways to fit in fun long down answers.

Today's theme takes body parts repurposed as verbs in standard phrases, each one in the same format. It's a nice clean set, especially with SHOULDERTHEBLAME running across the grid. I suppose that TOESTHELINE breaks the pattern by using the third person singular form of the verb, but there are ten toes, so I think we should forgive Mr. Kravis that minor indiscretion.

29D: Ingredient in a Reuben (SAUERKRAUT) is great, and 37D: Angrily stops playing a game, in modern parlance (RAGEQUITS) is better. AIRBUBBLES is fun. That's a lot of good stuff, and that doesn't even acknowledge the absurdity of a DOGHOTEL.

I never thought I'd see all of BILKEANE's name in a grid. I used to love Family Circus when I was a tyke (but never a SNOT, believe me). The enjoyment faded as I passed age 10, but still, it's a nice sort of nostalgia.

OPORTO over LIMA was a little rough for a Tuesday, but gettable. Other somewhat obscure answers included Edward ALBEE, the ISHTAR Gate, and KUBLAI Khan (in that spelling).

Best C/AP?

48A: Bum around London? (ARSE). 


- Colum

Monday, July 18, 2022

Monday, July 18, 2022, Phoebe Gordon

Good morning, and welcome to the week where for once every puzzle has to live up to the standard set by Sunday's grid.

Today's raises the bar for Monday puzzles by increasing the grid size. The puzzle is a hefty 16x15 in order to accommodate the three grid-spanning answers at 17A, 40A, and 63A. I love this concept! Reinterpreting classic idioms as if they were literally occurring where they seem appropriate. Thus, being "in suspense" as in ONPINSANDNEEDLES could only happen in a tailor's shop. Similarly, progressing BYLEAPSANDBOUNDS obviously happens most neatly in a ballet studio. 

ATSIXESANDSEVENS is such an evocative phrase to me, bringing to mind Captain Corcoran's solo song at the beginning of Act II of HMS Pinafore ("Say, why is everything / either at sixes or at sevens?"). The phrase itself originated from a dice game: apparently rolling a six or a seven meant risking all your money. One of the earliest references is from Chaucer in the 14th century.

POET Maya Angelou

The size of the grid allows for some nice down answers as well. We all enjoy good SPITTAKES, and LADYBIRD was an excellent film. STARGAZE is a lovely entry, and also draws attention to the pair of double-Z answers in OZZIE and RAZZ.

Other answers I found cromulent included GALLS, NADIRS (although can you really have more than one of them?), CAIRO (we have a town locally by that name, but you pronounce it CAY-ro, as opposed to CHI-ro), and EDGAR Degas, appropriately close to the ballet studio.

Fun Monday! Finished in 3:00, appropriate for the larger grid.

- Colum

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Sunday, July 17, 2022, Greg Slovacek


Hey everyone! Glad to be back blogging this week, especially on the heels of a lovely weekend at our friends' lake house in the Catskills. Swimming was great, kayaking delightful, food, drink, and company at its usual high level.

And speaking of high level, today's puzzle was beyond belief. What a tour de force! I sit in amazement as I look at the grid. I made two errors in the rebus squares, one because I used an incorrect number, and the other because I used an incorrect suit.

But enough about me, let's talk about the theme. We have four people playing Texas Hold 'Em poker, represented by 22A, 28A, 112A, and 123A. In case you're unfamiliar (the note helps if you are), in this form of poker, each player gets two cards which are hidden from everyone else. After a round of betting, the dealer turns up three cards, then one card, then the last card, with rounds of betting between and after. Your hand is made up of the best five cards from your two and the shared five.

The grid supplies these cards by having 13 rebus squares, where the across answer uses the card value, and the down answer uses the suit. For example, 22A: Plant with clusters of tiny white flowers ([QUEEN]ANNESL[ACE]) uses values twice, while 1D: Pop culture sister site of The Onion (AV[CLUB]) and 8D: Aplenty (IN[SPADE]S) use the suits. Thus, the player at 22A has the Q of clubs and the A of spades as her down cards, which gives her two pair when combined with the five middle cards.

Poor 28A (NE[TWO]R[KING]EVENT) should fold immediately before the flop even shows up. 112A (SURF[ACE][TEN]SION) is a sadder case, because he has a full house (tens over aces), and will probably stay in the betting until the end. But the winner is 123A ([SMO[KING][JACK]ET), because she lucks into the ROYALFLUSH on the last card.

Note that there's only one diamond card on the table (NEIL[DIAMOND]). Hard to fit that into any other phrase...

The last touch comes at 42D: Indicator on a clock ... or one of four in this puzzle? (MINUTEHAND). Hah! What a great way to indicate the need for rebus squares!

You don't have to be a VENETIAN to stroll here

Having spent this much time on the theme, I'll just mention a pair of C/APs that I enjoyed:

41A: Reason one might not go out for a long time? (INSOMNIA) - not a pandemic.

16D: They might be down for a nap (BLANKETS).

This week has a hard act to follow to keep up the level of puzzling. And Horace, 20 minutes is how long it took me as well.

- Colum

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Saturday, July 16, 2022, Kameron Austin Collins

I had to run the alphabet so many times to solve this puzzle that I think I now know it by heart. :) There was so much I couldn't figure out at first, but then eventually could  - my kind of puzzle! As with yesterday, I definitely had a better side - this time, it was the southwest-northeast axis, although in the southwest, I did have 'ringED' instead of BANDED for ("Like a racoon's tail") for a long while - I'm not familiar with BARSTOW, city in the Mojave Desert. I did twig onto "Emergency device in DC" right away, though, which helped. Well, I entered BATPHONE once I realized BATsignal wouldn't fit. :)

Fortunately, I knew or figured out a few here and there for sure (or pretty sure, I often doubt myself on Fridays and Saturdays), like METHUSELAH ("Name synonymous with longevity"), NGRAMS ("Google search strings useful to linguists and literary historians"), and NASCAR ("Its participants are always tired"). Others rezzed in pretty readily after I had a few other entries in the grid including DOGSLOBBER, which I got, but didn't want. :( Fill-wise, I liked both DEAROLDDAD and HYPERBOLIC.


C/APs of particular difficulty for Frannie were:
"Something you might write on" (SPEC)
"Perhaps" (SAY)
"Some rings on a plate" (CALAMARI) - ick.
"Handled well" (DEFT) - I kept thinking verb rather than adjective - that's what was happening.
"Result of tails, perhaps"  (ILOSE) - I had 'Intel' for a while - ha!

Other difficult spots for this solver included the HAYLEY (Atwell) - THOTH ("God with the head of an ibis") pairing, crossing at the bottom the very trixy clue "Short." However, thanks to the good old alphabet, I eventually sorted out the only arrangement of letters that could work for all of the above. 

My final breakthrough and big finish came when I took out my guess of DREAMrOmEo ("'Someone to comfort and hold me,' in a #1 Mariah Carey hit" that I've never heard of). That allowed me to see that "Initiate post production?" was STARTABLOG and that the nicely ambiguous "Gets in line" was EVENS, and that Ms. Carey was looking for a DREAMLOVER. ROPY for "Viscous" seemed odd to me, but it worked with everything else, so I went with it. 

I'm starting to wonder if I need to spend the summer listening to pop hits of the past - I didn't know the Ariana Grande song clued at 11A, either. Or, maybe I can read a book about them instead. :)


Friday, July 15, 2022

Friday, July 15, 2022, Matthew Stock and Nam Jin Yoon

HIALL! I'm aFRAY I'm a little late with the review again today, but I hope you can still enjoy DISS puzzle discussion. There's some good STEPH in here! At first, I made great headway on the right half of the grid, but not so much on the left. For a short time, I wondered if I'd be able to DUET. Eventually, I did finish, but with a FWO2E. TUSK TUSK.

As our long-time Readers will know, I've never heard of a PUPUSA or a Buck ONEIL (ONEIL Buck?), which engendered a SLEW of problems in the southwest. I managed to convince myself that "Modern meeting invite" was eINK (I blame all the party-themed answers in the top half of the puzzle that got me more into the SOCIALITE MOOED than the correct business frame of reference) and that "Streaming channel?" was SeaICE. CUTE, non? What won't the brain come up with in a pinch! I don't need to tell you that these LUNA ideas DOMED me to FWĒlure. When I didn't get my congratulatory message, I knew TOTEMS where to look for the problem. For the RETRY, I took a lot of that section out and then I was able to figure out the correct LINK and SLUICE, after which I did get my congratulations. SLURPEE!


I liked "Be as good as" for RIVAL. I also admired the misdirection in "Neck lines" for FRETS and fell for it at first with "Fencing needs" for POSTS. Of course, I tried 'eppeS' but then realized that was TUTU easy for a Friday. I enjoyed the new-to-me expression "Niminy-piminy" for PRIM. Who knew? A couple  of other PEARLs include "Relatively new addition to Thanksgiving?" (INLAW) and "One might be measured in pounds" (RESCUEDOG) - ha!

Hmm, WHATELSEISLEFT? Oh yeah, if I had a dollar for every time Horace has had to say to me no, YOUROTHERRIGHT, I'd be rich! 


Thursday, July 14, 2022

Thursday, July 14, 2022, Alan Arbesfeld

This week's Thursday trick is requires a letter swap that results in common phrases being changed into less common and slightly wacky entries that are clued so they "make sense" :). For example, if you take 'after shave' and change the 'h' to an 'o' you may be "Seeking a dry Italian wine?" or AFTERSOAVE. A FIRESIDECOAT fits the clue "Blazer worn next to a blaze?" after changing the 'h' in 'fireside chat' to an 'o'. The use of the numeral 2 in the revealer, H2O ("Fire fighter, informally") reminded me of a previous ACPT puzzle that had MAROON5 as an answer. Remember that? And speaking of odd endings, how about TRANK/C/Q - the last letter is always anyone's guess, especially when the final letter crosses the name of a person you've never heard of. Trouble!
And speaking of trouble, I had the most trouble in the northeast corner. I didn't know any of the "fact" answers ("Best-selling author of legal thrillers" (TUROW), "Kirin alternative" (ASAHI), and the other clues were either too generic ("It isn't much" for TAD, "Furnishings" for DECOR), or too tricky for me to get without help from some other entries. I finally solved it by guessing a bunch of stuff - Genius!

There were a number of fun C/APs like "Phone tapping target?" (ICON) and "Graphic text?" (EMOJI). I also liked the ambiguity of the clues "Put on" for DON, "Take up again, in a way" for REHEM, and "Take off" for SOAR

I'm running late today, so I'll sign off now, but I'll leave you with this thought: If Natalie worked for AAA, picking up cars that stopped working, their owners would get a PORTMAN tow. I'll be here all week!


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Wednesday, July 13, 2022, Addison Snell

Interesting theme today. I'm not sure I've ever seen one quite like it. The theme clues are what you might call existential quotes, and the answers are the people to whom the quotes are attributed. The first is the question "'Who am I?'" and the answer is JEANVALJEAN, from Les Misérables. The following theme entries could be seen as replies to that initial question, from GLORIA GAYNOR's "'I Am What I Am'" to the classic from RENEDESCARTES, "'I think, therefore I am'" to everyone's favorite from POPEYE, "'I yam what I yam.'" The responses vary, but are they EQUAL? Maybe it's a question of you go YAHWEH, I'll go mine.

30A: TAM

I was pleased to see ALBUS Dumbledore make an appearance. As our dear Readers may remember, there seemed to be a rash of Harry Potter clues in puzzles last summer (?) so I re-read all of the books to brush up. Since then, naturally, the fad has faded. What's the most important part about brushing up your arcane knowledge for puzzle solving improvement? Timing. 

I found it amusing that the puzzle included the clue "Primary place to park" (MAINLOT). I guess that's a thing? I thought the singular THROE for "Intense convulsion" was interesting, but also a bit unusual. "Love of soccer?" for NIL was amusing. Fill-wise, I enjoyed PEG, AQUAVIT, SMELT, and  BUSLANE. Less to my taste was IDEATE. I would not get AGRI if use of that word should CEASE.

And for those dear Readers who are following along with both this blog AND Wordle, you may be interested to hear that I did solve the puzzle first today and then chose EQUAL to use as my starting word for Wordle. ALAS - vague spoiler alert - 'equal' was NOT the Wordle word today. Maybe tomorrow. :)


Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Tuesday, July 12, 2022, Karen Steinberg

Funny how puzzles can be as different as NIGHT and DAY. Yesterday, colorful body parts, today, theme entries that relate to human SLEEPWAKECYCLES. The theme entries start off with DAY, the approximate length of which, according to the puzzle clue, is TWENTYFOURHOURS. Below that circled letters spell out CIRCADIANRHYTHM in a wave pattern across the middle, representing the aforementioned SLEEPWAKECYCLES, followed by NIGHT at the very bottom. Despite the abundance of theme material, we don't catch any Zzz's in this one. :) On the other hand, we do (or at least I did) encounter a number of coincidences involving this puzzle's answers. The first of which is - REDALERT! Wordle solvers who haven't completed today's puzzle, avert your eyes - we have another Wordle crossover event. I'm starting to think I should solve the crossword puzzle first, then Wordle to get the inside scoop. 

What other coincidences occurred?, you ask. Well, Horace and I were out last night at our local to hear our favorite band. Late in the second set, the bartender started a conversation with the band about the definitions of  pick, pluck, and STRUM. I wish I could give you ATASTE of how entertaining it all was, but it's one of those cases where you really had to be there. Anyhoo, we were out way past our post-COVID bedtime and definitely threw off our new circadian rhythms. In another odd coincidence, during the set break, the youngest member of the band started up a conversation with me about the current controversy surrounding the selection of the next DALAI Lama. Crazy.

Also, how about CORSET showing up again so soon after its appearance in Saturday's killer puzzle? It was so fresh in my mind after the struggle I had with Saturday's clue ("Symbol of confinement") that I was able to slip the answer right in when I read today's clue "Tight-fitting women's garment." Although, as an aside, I believe corsets are worn by men and women. 


I got a kick out of the C/APs "Long ways to go?" (LIMOS), "Descriptor of the 1%?" (LOWFAT), and "Feature of an impala ... or an Impala" (HORN). I thought "'Tender' meat cut'" for LOIN was funny for some reason. I also enjoyed the pair ACHY and SPRY. Plus, you don't see PIED every day. 

Although a few answers were things or people I've never heard of, like IFC ("Movie co. with a presence at Sundance"), "Rap's MC ___" (REN), there was nothing to lose sleep over. 


Monday, July 11, 2022

Monday, July 11, 2022, Roy Greim

A nice puzzle today, but a result that left me feeling a little blue. The theme revealer, FINGERPAINTS, hinted at three common expressions that combine a color and part of the hand: WHITEKNUCKLE, BLUEPRINTS, GREENTHUMB. Frankly, the theme tickled me pink. 

I whizzed along right from the start, with nary a gray area. Going along in high GEAR, I was able to DART from OHIO to ELM, throwing CASH around like a STAR, taking care to complete the SHIPSLOG. As I sped along, I felt the GERM of an idea sprout in my mind. "AHA!" I thought, "a golden opportunity for a sub-five time." As soon as the idea ANTE'd my mind, though, and I realized what was at STAKE, instantly, AMAL butterfingers. I had some kind of SPASM and hit the 123 key on my iPad keyboard, resulting in number entries that MARRED my grid, which I then had to scramble to DELETE. I says to myself, the FATS in the fire now as I felt the sub-five slip beyond my GRASP. Color me vexed. I ended up with a completion time of 5:06 - maybe Philbo, at least, will be happy with that. :)


The silver lining was that OVAL, we got a NEAT puzzle with very little red tape. I'll save you any more purple prose and conclude by saying that while I didn't succeed with flying colors, I'll put on my rose-colored glasses and assume I'll get it next time. 


Sunday, July 10, 2022

Sunday, July 10, 2022, Christina Iverson and Scott Hogan


A fun Sunday theme to end my week of reviews. The title is perfect, as is often the case. If we read it as an instruction, we learn that the letters "on" are to be taken from the end of one Down clue and added to the end of the Down clue directly above. To wit, "'Tis the season" becomes TISTHESEAS (Response to "Why art thou queasy?") (guffaw!), and the "on" that was removed goes up to FRUITBATON (Banana wielded by a maestro in a pinch?). Now that's some quality wackiness! Another fine example is TRASHCANON (Give a scathing review of a major camera brand?) and BOXINGLESS (What Amazon retirees enjoy most?). And the trickiest ones were WARMUPTOON (Animated short before a Pixar movie?) and STORECOUP (Retail takeover scheme?) Overall, a lovely theme.


The fill, too, had many fine C/APs. "Where some stable relationships form?" (STUDFARMS) was amusing, "Kind of patch that may create holes instead of repairing them" (BRIAR) was clever, BROUHAHA (Quite an uproar) and DAGNABIT ("Tarnation!") (again with the taking away the double letters!) are fun words, and it's always nice being reminded of La SCALA in MILAN

The only thing I have any question about is HARDR (Movie rating that's practically NC-17). Is HARDR a real thing? 

Overall, a very satisfying Sunday. Tomorrow Frannie takes over. Enjoy!

- Horace

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Saturday, July 9, 2022, Kevin G. Der

Very tough Saturday! In the end, I was beaten by Zeljko IVANEK and ZAZIEBEETZ. It's always popular culture that does me in. Yesterday, in the NYT News Quiz, I had ten out of ten and then missed the one about kids dressing up going to a certain movie and making TikTok videos. Well, if I have to be out of touch, I'm fine with it. I can SITBY and let the modern world go on without me. My wheelhouse is somewhere back in the TOOTSIE era. Witness my first confident entry - RATSO ("Midnight Cowboy" role), and my second, RUBATOS.

In addition to my lack of current knowledge, I had a few missteps in other areas. I tried CrAbCAKE for "Specialty of Rhode Island cuisine (CLAMCAKE). That made it difficult to see the tricky LUNARYEAR (What a snake or dragon can represent), but MADEMAGIC (Achieved something wondrous) made me make the correction. And I tried fOul for "Out of bounds, in a way" (LONG), but eventually LUNGS (Pair of pants?) (wow) set that one right. 


BONEASH (Material in some china) got me into the SE, and I wasn't slowed down much by HIZZONER (Informal title in city government), DENOVO (From square one), or BICEP (Contractor at a gym?) (I'm onto you!), but I just let COTAN (Ratio of two sides in a right-angled triangle, in brief) eventually fill itself in. It's nice when you can EVADE the math questions.

So the right side went by pretty easily, but that left! I had entered CloSET instead of CORSET, and dEfT instead of NEAT (Adroit, as a trick), and was almost ready to ABORT when finally the sound of a CLARINET (Wind known for its warmth) came to me. 

I was really INATANGLE in the SW, and was convinced that "placemat" should be one word, and that "Like many place mats" was looking for some kind of adverb... sheesh! The way my mind works against me sometimes! And I was thinking of a pool table for "Pool side," not of the balls, but the cushions or rails around the edge. Finally, Frannie gave me SOLIDS, and then SKIPASSES (They're sported while going on a run) came clear. Then I guessed DONEE for "Foundation, often" but didn't get the "Congratulations" screen and had to go hunting for a bad square. Turns out I had spelled BODILESS with a y, because I had no idea who ZAZIEBEETZ was. 

So that's my story. A solid Saturday DNF. It's nice to be humbled by a puzzle every once in a while, and I guess I had it coming to me after this past week of reviews. :)

Hopefully, the rest of you au courant souls fared better than I did on this one.

- Horace

Friday, July 8, 2022

Friday, July 8, 2022, Kyle Dolan

This puzzle started out nicely with STATUSQUO (Something a provocateur opposes) (in off the clue) and LEMONCURD (Tart dessert topping) (so delicious...). And off of those, AMSTEL (River for which a European capital is named), TOTEMIC (Representative), and URANUS ("Sky father" of Greek myth) were all lovely. SCOT (Burns, e.g.), with its hidden capital, was a very tricky C/AP, and TETON (County in Wyoming, Montana or Idaho) is nicely evocative of the wild west. I had never heard of a QUBIT (Portmanteau unit of computing information) (from "quantum bit"), but it is Friday, after all, so we expect a QUBIT of that. 

No mention of a dog breed.

Then over in the NE, we've got the "Lyre-playing great-granddaughter of 8-Down" ERATO - a nice tie-in, and the amusing "Offering with a blessing?" (KLEENEX). I thought WHOSNEXT (Question at a press conference, maybe) was a bit too "maybe," INES (Mission Santa ____ (National Historic Landmark in California)) was another one that I had no hope of knowing without all crosses, and NUHUH ("Not true!") was a no for this solver.

SYLVAN (Like much of Maine) (so true!) is a lovely word, and I enjoyed the EVA DUARTE combo, but although a PAPERWASP nest sounds like a "delicate" thing, anyone who has tried to destroy one knows that it is not so delicate as all that.

And finally, we get down to the SE, where DEI Fratelli (tomato sauce brand) and BITON (Dog that's a cross of two French-named breeds) drove the final nails into my enjoyment. That's harsh, and I know that not knowing something isn't fair cause to bash a puzzle, but, well, needing pretty much all crosses for six or seven entries can be a bit of a drag. And I guess I also thought the clues were trying a bit too hard sometimes.

- Horace

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Thursday, July 7, 2022, Philip Wolfe

Haven't we seen this recently? The doubling of words to be taken literally? I can't quite remember, but it seems like we have. Maybe I've seen too many puzzles.


ANYhoo, the theme answers are to be read rebus-style, as in:

YOUONLYLIVELIVE (1967 James Bond film) (You Only Live Twice)
BLINDBLINDSTUDY (Randomized clinical trial) (double blind study)
GOODYSHOESSHOES (One who's maybe too virtuous) (goody two-shoes)

It's a solid set.

In other news, I have never heard SKEIN used to mean "tangle." I see that it's supported by online dictionaries as part of the second definition, but I still don't like it. I mean, a skein is an organized gathering of YARN, isn't it? It's the opposite of a tangle. 

And in other complaints, I know I'm in the minority, but I don't like the loss of double letters in words like YESES (Hoped-for responses to proposals). It's especially common with ELS. Why not egy instead of EGGY

Oh, I suppose I should just mix myself a PISCOSOUR and INURE myself to it. 

It was fine. It's all fine.

- Horace

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Wednesday, July 6, 2022, Sam Koperwas and Jeff Chen

Well, well, well. It's a wonderful Wednesday with a wrinkle. The MAGICTRICK from 59-Across refers to the three "____ Rabbit"s (BRER, PETER, and ROGER) being pulled up through a beanie, a boater, and a derby. It's a fun idea, well executed. 


And in addition to pulling the rabbits out of the hats, the cluing was tricky in places, too, and led to a couple funny (to me) missteps. I tried PLAce for "Next-best option" (thinking "Win, place, and show"), but I had to go with PLANB when the crosses demanded it. And for "It requires a tap to get started," I felt so clever when I dropped in "keg," but the better option today is APP. And be careful with "Land bridge between Africa and Asia," because "Egypt" fits, but the more specific (and correct) answer is SINAI.

The best C/AP today is probably "Small-arms runner of years past?" (TREX). That is going right into our favorite clues page. But "Key that works to exit but not enter" (ESC), "Pot seeds?" (ANTES), and "There's a bridge near the top of it" (NOSE) are all quite good too. See also "Range for yodelers" (ALPS). Hah! 

Overall, an excellent Wednesday. 

- Horace

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Tuesday, July 5, 2022, Malgorzata Nowakowska and Eileen Williams

Today's puzzle is, they tell me, filled with Taylor SWIFT songs. I don't think I've ever knowingly heard one, so I can't put them in order of my own preference or anything like that, but I guess if I had to rank them by title alone - which I don't - I'd say:


Unless DEARJOHN is a cover of the John Prine song, then I might reconsider. But no, I said I was ranking them by title alone, and I still think that's a weaker title. 
I want to go to there.

In non-theme material, I like one of the two long Downs - STORYBOOK (Perfect, as a romance), but PUTUPJOBS (Well-orchestrated ruses) is not a term I'm familiar with. It's not like I FREAKED about it or anything, and it wasn't as wholly unknown to me as La ROCHE-Posay, but I did need to AMASS a HEAP of crosses before I put it in.

After yesterday's diatribe and today's verbal shoulder shrug, I'm starting to think that IOWEYOU a decent review. Here's hoping I find something to GRASP onto in tomorrow's grid.

- Horace

Monday, July 4, 2022

Monday, July 4, 2022, Bruce Haight

Greetings, Dear Reader, Horace here. I've been spending the weekend in a small beach community. Last night we saw and heard fireworks exploding all up and down the coast - some sanctioned, many more not - and today we will stand on the side of the street and watch a parade pass by. I'm not feeling especially patriotic, but perhaps THATTOO will eventually pass. They say the long arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, but lately it has been straightened out by idiots dreaming of a less just past. But I digress.

Moe, Larry, and Curly

Let's instead focus on Bartholdi's copper Colossus standing at our sea-washed, sunset gates. Her golden door is now more often shut than open, but this mighty woman with a torch will now need to accept more homeless and tempest-tost souls from within her own teeming shores.

Anyhoo... she holds a torch, she wears a crown and a gown, and she holds a tablet - all things found at the ends of the longest Across answers. The ASPRIRINTABLET (One way to deal with a pain in the neck) is the most hidden of the items. The other three are metaphoric in those phrases, but the phrases only work with the understanding of the actual items. 

There's a nice nod to one of our pre-1776 ERAS with ENG. ROYALS, and ATON of foreign words and initials (YSL, EDER, COSI, KAHLO, ETTU, PSI) to keep us humble. You can bet the FBI will be watching Mr. Haight closely from now on! :)

Lastly, isn't it funny how ATTAR doesn't sound all that sweet?

My own MEH attitude about the country notwithstanding, I did enjoy this Monday puzzle, and I hope you all have a lovely holiday.

- Horace

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Sunday, July 3, 2022, Tom McCoy


As promised, it's still Colum blogging today, making up for last Sunday's blunder. Horace, take the day off! 

On this lovely long weekend, our day of rest is not marred by the expectation of returning to work tomorrow. Instead we get to laze around, solving the NYT Sunday puzzle. 

Today, there's an explanation in the information button, stating that the clues for seven answers are confusing, and then supplying the clues for the actual entries in alphabetical order. I mean, I guess it was needed. But aren't theme clues always a little confusing until you figure out what's going on?

The way the theme works is by taking a two word phrase where the first word can be reinterpreted as a letter. The word is then replaced with a different word which starts with that letter, which makes a widely acceptable phrase. However, the clue in the puzzle is for the original phrase. Thus, 41A: Color of the Owl and Pussy-cat's boat, refers to "pea green," which is then expanded to PUTTINGGREEN (or "Where golfers practice short strokes").

The other original answers are:

  • Bee line (BOTTOMLINE)
  • Oh brother (OLDERBROTHER)
  • Eye contact (INCONTACT)
  • Sea horse (CHARLEYHORSE)
  • Gee thanks (GIVINGTHANKS)
  • Tea party (THIRDPARTY)
Wouldn't it have been cool if those letters had spelled something? But probably that's not possible.

Nick NOLTE and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours

Mr. McCoy has put in some very nice long fill, including LETSGETONWITHIT and WHATSYOURSECRET. And everybody loves GALLIVANTS, because it's a fun word.

There isn't a ton of clever clues, which is appropriate when the theme answers are confusing. But I did like 32A: Like cheese ... or some movies (GRATED, which can also be parsed as G-rated). Also, 7D: The yolk's on them (FRIEDEGGS).

Tomorrow Horace takes back over. Happy Fourth!

- Colum

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Saturday, July 2, 2022, Evan Kalish

I found today's puzzle less satisfying than the other two in The Turn this week, but still enjoyable. Our faithful readers might be able to GUESSAT my reasons for dissatisfaction today.

Or maybe I'll just come right flat out and say it: we essentially have five minimally connected mini-puzzles in the grid. Each corner is segregated from the middle with only 2 single squares to allow for flow. What this means is a segmented solve, where you often have to essentially start out fresh in a new section in order to make progress, and it might not translate into assistance where you were having difficulty before. 

On the other hand, some of my difficulties today were self-inflicted, so I should probably check myself before stepping up on to that soapbox. The first was a typo, where I put two Us in a row for GUuSSAT. The second was trying the far more common ALKaNE rather than ALKENE. Which made GREATRECESSION very difficult to see because both mistakes were in the same row!

The upside to the segmentation is that the fill is more sparkly. I love TRIXRABBIT crossing NETFLIXSPECIAL (and if you haven't seen Hannah Gadsby's "Nanette," you are sorely missing out - it's a masterpiece). 

I love the NW corner, with THESCREAM (great reference to "Home Alone") and HEXAHEDRA. We just played a board game for the first time in our household called Betrayal at House on the Hill, which uses 8 of those cubes. I very much liked 6D: Image problem? (REBUS). Nicely put!

Similarly, the SE corner benefits from isolation, with ICALLEDIT and TEXASTECH, as well as the excellent Rachel DRATCH.

On to Sunday!

- Colum

Friday, July 1, 2022

Friday, July 1, 2022, Christina Iverson and Caitlin Reid

The Turn is going great so far this week! After yesterday's clever Thursday, today we have a themeless TODIEFOR with some great answers and fun clues.

I love when constructors' voices come through in their grids. I am just making assumptions here, but OHHELLNO and YOUGOGIRL have a great colloquial feel that I imagine comes from the constructors' own conversational styles. 

Or maybe they're more into the PRAYDO school of delightfully archaic politeness.

Other fun answers include ATEFORTWO and ONEPOTATO. I really tried to fit "eeny, meeny, miny, mo" into that space, but it was a NOGO.


Clues I enjoyed included:

18A: Enterprise that's folding (ORIGAMI) - I should have trusted my instincts and just put it in. Instead I got to it much later in my solve.

37A: Courtside seats? (THRONES). I suppose they are!

57A: Tag line? (DONOTIRON). Hah!

I don't love starting the puzzle off with the very obscure ATTA (clued as the whole wheat flour used to make Indian breads). On the other hand... I do love naan. And overall the puzzle was tasty with the addition of NACHOS, APRICOTS, and EDAM. Sounds like a pretty good meal, come to think of it.

- Colum