Saturday, March 11, 2023

Saturday, March 11, 2023, Tom Pepper

Another week of blogging comes to a close with a really fine Saturday themeless. I've come to realize that my weeks of reviews have a rhythm to them: the Sunday is a nice involved solve, followed by a romp through the early part of the week, and then the buildup of the Turn. I'm glad we're keeping going.

I love these pinwheel constructions, with the little black square staircases in the middle of each side, creating these stepwise sets of answers. There's a fun moment when all of the long middle answers become clear at the same time. It took me a long time, and I even took out correct answers, before I was able to see my way through.

I almost started with a pair of incorrect answers. Did anybody else want "euchre" at 1A: Trick-taking card game (OHHELL)? The mildly misleading 1D: Four + four (OCTET) could have been "eight" but I was immediately suspicious on a Saturday. Mind you, the reason I changed my answers was because of 4D: Name in "fuel injection" (ELI), which was really straightforward. This corner was great, with Alan TURING and HORCRUX (never mind what you think about Ms. Rowling's controversial views on trans people).

That X made 30A: Ones getting under your skin? (XRAYTECHS) clear (especially with INRE right next to it). But even with that in place, I had to skip to the NE corner next.


and ARAL went in quickly, followed by 8D: One standing on one's own two feet? (BIPED) - cute. There's a nice hidden capital in 23A: Messing around on a TV set? (DEBRA). BRIOCHE and CHAGRIN make this another very nice corner. And now I could see BLOCKCHAINS, and I had CHIN___ at 16D: Green, black, white and yellow are varieties of these (CHINESETEAS), but couldn't get the ending. It didn't help that I wanted SHear for 28D: Cut short (SHORN). "Cut" and "put" are tough in crossword clues because the past tense is the same as the present tense.

So I completed the SE and then the SW corners first. The TOONIE is the two dollar coin in Canada (a gimme for Philbo, I'm sure). I had lOONIE in place for a bit. RETINA gave me FOVEA in the other corner. ALOHAOE is always hard to write in with all of those vowels. 

Finally the middle fell, when I got ENDEARING, recognized what 27D: Evening (TYING) was all about, and then ELIASHOWE

WHATADOWNER! I finished in 11:13. Just kidding, folks! It's been a fun week. Horace is back on tomorrow.

- Colum


  1. EUCHRE. Yep. It was EUCHRE till about 3/4 thru the solve, even though a little voice was telling me "too obvious, Philbo"...didn't help that it made EIGHT that much more plausible...I didn't actually "see" ELI until almost the end. And in embarrassing news - yes, we have TOONIEs here but yes, we do also have LOONIEs ($2 coins, vs $1) and I had to take a beat to remember which had the polar bear. This despite the broad hint right in the name "LOONIE".. sigh ALOHAOE is not familiar to me so it was a leap of faith to leave something in the grid that ended with those three vowels! Ultimately it was 8:07 when the dust settled. Great puzzle!

  2. I tried a number of plays in the northwest, including ‘hearts’ and ‘spades’ and even ‘bridge’ before getting it straight. Unlike you two, I wasn’t initially constrained in my options by having any other answers. :) I did get ELI before long, but could not remember HORCRUX - so much for my recent re-read - and not knowing Lisa LING didn’t advance my cause. Eventually, I thought of the somewhat dated COOLIO and was able to complete the corner. Also unlike esteemed reviewer, Colum, RETINA did not give me FOVEA and I, like esteemed commenter Philbo, took a leap of faith at the finish since everything else seemed OK. A lot of great fill, as Colum mentioned.

  3. This one played very hard for me, but I plugged on. Absolutely love the clue for ELIAS HOWE! Thanks for the week, Colum!

  4. Enjoyed reading your solving journeys and your takes on it. Appreciate your kind words about the puzzle too. So glad you all found something fun in it! That's why we make/solve/blog these things in the first place, right?

  5. Unusually tough one for me, finishing in 1:06:13 (I'm usually in the 20 minute range on a Saturday). That NW corner was a real bear. I, like Frannie, didn't remember HORCRUX and don't know the game OHHELL. MANCAVES had a great clue. That Y of TYING was the last to go for me. I wanted something to do with drawing blood for the "under the skin" clue, and had _RA_TECHS, so I tried dRAwTECHS until I finished the NW, then XRAYTECHS fell in and I understood "Evening" and it's relationship to TYING. Very nicely done.