Thursday, January 12, 2023

Thursday, January 12, 2023, Grant Thackray

Another normal-ish Thursday theme. It's well-known - or at least well-reported - that Mr. Shortz has said that Thursday puzzles need only be harder than Wednesdays and easier than Fridays. And for me, the system appears to be working, because this played about a minute harder than yesterday.


That said, we here at HAFDTNYTCPFCA, and, I think, others, have come to expect a bit more than just a regular theme on a Thursday. And I guess this qualifies. It's not a rebus, and we don't have to imagine any letters outside the grid, but we do have to do a bit of mental re-arranging to make sense of it all.

STUFFINGSTOCKER (Grocery store worker on the days leading up to Thanksgiving?) is the first example, and I think the easiest to get. It works humorously for the clue, and it is clearly a re-working of "stocking stuffer." SAUCINGFLYERS (Pamphlets on how to use marinara?) is a little more convoluted, but "flying saucers" is still quite obviously the seed. Then we get to BETTINGGETTER (Bookie?) which is positively tortured, and it took me a few beats to understand that it was originally "getting better," itself a somewhat random phrase. And by the time we get to NUMBINGTRACKERS (Devices that help dentists monitor anesthesia?) ("tracking numbers") we have given in to the conceit and we chuckle at the effort. Kind of like that "Bad jokes and puns" calendar that Colum mentioned earlier in the year. We have one too, and the joke for yesterday was "Why do onions lock their doors when they study? To make sure they're onionterrupted." I mean ... how can you even respond to such a thing except with a sincere appreciation of the effort and the guts it took to actually come up with it and then think it was good enough to say out loud, and then to further think it was worthy of inclusion on a thing that you would ask people to spend money on? The nerve... the brio... the bottle, as we've heard people say on the British TV shows. 

So what else? NICETY was a "Fine point," and EFFORTLESS (Easy-peasy), ironically, took a few crosses. I enjoy any reference to AESOP (Author whose titles often feature two animals), and "When both hands are up" was a cute clue for ATNOON

Overall, I enjoyed it. 

- Horace


  1. Definitely thought STUFFINGSTOCKER was the best of the themers. BETTINGGETTER is just a mess, including having two many letters shared between the two parts which swap.

    I thought this was a fun way to clue SONY (although I suppose an age test in that the Walkman was ubiquitous for a while and forgotten thereafter). And SARS also had that cute throwback feel (with the pleasant twist that this virus may be more famous after the fact than it was during its 2003 outbreak).

  2. Since I rarely throw things away, I still have my SONY Walkman, but haven't used it in decades. Hopefully I removed the batteries after the last time. The theme was fine, and I agree with the rankings above of the various theme answers, but as people know, I prefer a rebus of some sort. There were no slowdowns for the most part for me, so I finished in a respectable, for me, time of 10:29.