Thursday, March 30, 2023

Thursday, March 30, 2023, Adam Wagner and Brooke Husic

Counting down the days to the ACPT - wish I could be there! It starts tomorrow night. 

As a amuse-bouche prior to the main event, today's Thursday puzzle has an unusual kind of tricksy theme. Our constructors have uncovered five two word phrases where each half can be a synonym for the same word. The entry is then clued with that synonym twice.

For example, 16A: Tease / Tease (RIBROAST). I love this sort of thing, showing how peculiarly flexible the English language is. The other examples are equally good: CRAPSHOOT ("Drat!"), POTHEAD (Toilet), GOTCAUGHT (Heard - this one might be the best), and DROPKICK (Quit). It's very cleverly done, and I imagine harder than most themes to accomplish with an algorithm.

The CREASE - much better clued with hockey than... anything else

Like yesterday, I noticed cleverness in adjacent cluing. 19A: Word rhymed with "intelligent" in T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" (ELEGANT) sits above 21A: Wasteland (DESERT). 

13A: Mar contents (AGUA) comes right before 14A: Mer contents (EAU). Why did it take me so long to get the first one, when the second one went right in? Because of the hidden language switch. "Mar" is a word in English, so I was parsing this as a verb.

The third pair is musical with ERHU and HARP. I'd never come across that first word, but I liked the juxtaposition of the number of strings respectively.

22A: Tricep curls? (ARMHAIR) wins for the most out there C/AP of the year, in my mind. Many people have almost no hair on that part of the arm to begin with, and rarely to the length where it can actually "curl." I get that the word here is being used as a synonym for "hair," but still!

29D: Presale alert? (GOINGONCE) is excellent, on the other hand. Fun stuff there.

PCHELP and TSAPRE added to the strange look of the grid. The former is clearly the sound a nervous person with post nasal drip makes prior to making a public speech. The latter is a rebus for the fourth month of the year inside of half of an African fly. I bet Philbo got that one right off the clue.


- Colum


  1. Interesting observations on the clever cluing, Colum. I hadn't picked up on all of those. Being a Global Entry person, I picked up on the TSAPRE thing right away (often paired with an ETICKET, although I generally like to have a printed version). Your alternate clue for that one would definitely have made it trickier. I liked POTHEAD the best of the themed bunch, but they were all great. I came in just under twice your time at 17:38.

  2. I had TSA_RE, but did not, am am pretty sure would not ever, have come up with TSAPRE. I’m not enough of a flyer to even be familiar with what I assume to be the full version, TSA Precheck, never mind being on such casual, nickname terms with the service. Having a crossing Down clue replete with ambiguity (“Place”) and the Across answer below be a person I’ve never heard of combined to spell a big fat DNF for this solver. Not very encouraging going into the big weekend.:( I enjoyed the theme for all the reasons Colum so cogently outlined. My favorite was RIBROAST. I got the pair of water clues immediately. I liked the C/AP “Purity ring?” (HALO), and fill-wise I liked CUSP and Bisect.

  3. Colum! Nope! Had to get TSAPRE from the crossers, and as I wasn't sure about LUM, the middle section was a big nail-biting guess..