Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Wednesday, May 31, 2023, Brandon Koppy

I was introduced to the BEASTIEBOYS in 1987, at 30,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, when a friend put his Walkman headphones over my ears and had me listen to Brass Monkey. So thanks to Chris Benbow, I got 37A immediately. The theme, however, has little to do with that classic hip hop group, and more to do with a group of men with hip wild animal names: WOLFBLITZER (his actual given name), TIGERWOODS (Eldrick), BEARGRYLLS (Edward), and BUFFALOBILL (William). It makes me wonder if I should take an animal name... I think I might like a bird name like Hawk or Harrier... Falcon Fawley? ... Let's move on.


Speaking of names, I quite like the name VINCENT (Grammy-winning singer St. ____). And is RATSO ("Midnight Cowboy" nickname) a little bonus theme material? Heh. 

"Spooky-sounding lake" for ERIE is fun. And "Gets the lead out" is clever for SMELTS. Hah! But the all-text-based "In which pictures of a bill + gates = a noted business executive" is a long way to go for REBUS. And what about "Boom sticks" for TNT? It is ridiculous and I love it. And finally, in this "interesting clues" paragraph, I will just say that the FIC (I had to look it up in our glossary... "False Imperative Clue") "This sucks!" for STRAW was also amusing.

YEE (Start of a rodeo cry) is tad weak, and there's a little ATA, ABLER, TEM, and PIS, but SHH... we won't mention any of that. I'm still waiting for this blog to GOVIRAL, and nobody likes reading a blog where someone just complains all the time, do they? 

- Horace

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Tuesday, May 30, 2023, Kathryn Ladner

It's an ornithologist's paradise today, as EIGHT BIRDS perch on horizontal branches (answers) in today's grid: robin, eagle, tern, lark, wren, loon, egret, and owl. It's a tidy theme, and they all blended into their surroundings so well that they didn't ruffle any feathers in the fill. I didn't know IMANI Perry (award-winning author of "South to America") or Jennifer EGAN (who wrote "A Visit From the Goon Squad"), but both were gettable, if you knew AMA (Reddit Q&A) ("Ask Me Anything") and MENSREA (Legal term meaning "guilty mind").

Xena and Gabrielle, each sporting an ARMLET

Just two long Downs today - THATSALIE ("Untrue!") and LENTANEAR (Offered quiet sympathy, in a way), neither of which is terribly exciting, but that didn't bother me. There's plenty of other interesting fill to enjoy. GAMUT (Entire range), BASK (Soak up the sun), INGOT (Block of gold), BALSA (Model airplane material), CAGY, HORDES, and everybody's favorite Vergilian hero AENEAS.

It's really quite elegant that the birds are all centered in their containing words, and it's impressive to have found eight such possibilities, and then to have set them in what is really a very clean puzzle. Excellent.

- Horace

Monday, May 29, 2023

Monday, May 29, 2023, Katie Hale and Zachary David Levy

Today's theme celebrates the flexibility of the English language. The endings of all five theme answers sound just the same even though each is spelled in a different way.


Fun! The first one is from the Greek, the second from Old Norse, apparently, and the last three are all from French, but it hardly matters where they are from, because once they get here, we pronounce them the way we want. Right?

UMA Thurman

But then, look at BETE (____ noire (bane)). Why don't we pronounce that like "beet" or with two syllables? Because it's still French? (And did Bette Davis' first name have one syllable or two? (The answer is two.)) Now contrast with NENE. Now with CEDE. Now FETE.

And do you pronounce DEI with one syllable, with two, or as a diphthong? Sure, it's easy to TOSS them off as foreign words, but is any word truly foreign if we use it on a regular basis? When will we be able to get rid of the word foreign? Or use it only for non-terrestrial things? Perhaps that's a rant for another day...

So what else...  LAYTOWASTE (Completely destroy) is fun. As is SPOOFS. Nice to see TOM in the grid. :) And BEMUSE (Perplex) - is that theme-adjacent? 

I approve of this theme, and this puzzle.

- Horace

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Sunday, May 28, 2023, Chandi Deitmer and Taylor Johnson


Fun theme today, revealed by a phrase from the "Bachelor" TV show: CANISTEALYOUFORASECOND. In four paired answers, a U travels from the left answer into the right answer, and hilarity ensues. Sometimes we rank the pairs in order of funniness, but today that has already been done for us, as they progress from top to bottom.

In the first, the missing U from LEISURESIT (Enjoy a La-Z-Boy recliner?) goes to SUITUPFRONT (Head exec?). This one's really more of a "huh, ok" than a laugh. 

Next, ITSALOSTCASE ("My luggage has gone missing!"?) gives its U to COLDCAUSE (Germs from day care, e.g.?). And that got a smile.

CAKEDONTS (Things to avoid when baking desserts?) took me far too long to get (because I don't think I've ever made any :P), but once I did, DONUTDESPAIR (Sadness at the last Boston cream being taken, e.g.?) fell right in. And who hasn't experienced that at least once in their life. 

Finally, THISOLDHOSE (My garden waterer that's seen better days?) and PANTYHOUSE (Shopping destination for your underwear needs?) got an actual laugh. Hah!


In other areas, I was happy to see SHOGI in the grid. I really enjoyed this game as a youth, but it was extremely hard to find anyone who wanted to play. It was kind of like chess on steroids, and it was already hard enough to find people who wanted to play chess. Sigh. 

I enjoyed the pairing of ORGY (Bodily function?) (heh) and PORNSTAR (One who's barely acting?) (guffaw) ... (add FLESH and LURID and we're really getting somewhere!), but I fear I may have AGEDOUT of both categories... sigh. 

"Drive home?" was tricky for USBPORT, and "Northwestern follower" (EDU) took me forever! And I'm just getting "What a pump might squeeze" (TOE) now. Hah!

Overall, an enjoyable solve on this beautiful New England spring morning. I hope you are all relaxing today and that you have a moment to enjoy this holiday weekend. I'll see you AGAIN tomorrow.


- Horace

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Saturday, May 27, 2023, Samuel Smalley

Another tough themeless for the last day of my week! These grids with wide open middle sections often pose a challenge for this solver. I typically chip away at the corners until enough of the ends of those answers give me a foothold in the middle.

Today, the NW was not such a foothold initially. I broke in to the grid in a meaningful way with the NE where RAS and RACEBIB confirmed each other. The Y of ALLEY was not enough to give me much help, and while I had BIGNONOS in place, leading to DINED and IONS, I was not able to see much across the middle here.

Off to the SE! ROI alert with 38D: Largest country without an official language, for short (THEUSA). In a related direction, 49A: Sarcastic response to a first-world-problem complaint (POORYOU). Hah! I put in PARTYBOSS, which was enough to guess ____PROOF for 30A: Impossible to get into (TAMPERPROOF), but I couldn't see the start of the answer.

CLEA Duvall

Once again I jumped to the SW. SALUT, ETS, and IPOS were all I had for a while. Things were looking bleak. What could it be at 47A: More than one? I had ____PLE. And I couldn't see it. Some mornings are just not your PEAKTIMES. Well, anyway, I managed ARF and then HAHAHA, and that was enough to finally break things open.

42A: Impediment to picking things up (HERNIA) was good. I really wanted something like "dyslexia" and my neurologist brain refused to let it go for a while. Also, 52A: Some credit opportunities (APTESTS) was not the direction I was thinking of (banks and loans). To be fair, many colleges aren't accepting credit from advanced testing any more anyway.

33A: Squee-inducing (TOTESADORBS) is the best answer in the grid, in my opinion. 32A: Bad things to lose track of? (MODELTRAINS) is not a clue that works for me. I understand that they run on tracks, but it hardly seems like a tragedy if a toy jumps off the table by accident.

20D: Steal (SWEETDEAL) is a good example of a tough clue because of the ambiguity of a single English language word. Meanwhile, 19A: Pop corn? (DADJOKES) is so meta.

Horace takes over tomorrow. See you around the blog, folks!

- Colum

Friday, May 26, 2023

Friday, May 26, 2023, Hemant Mehta

What a fun Friday! I don't really have a more favored style of puzzle between themeless and themed, but a really great themeless can really sparkle. And today's merits a comment of "Smart!" (VERYCLEVER).

So many wonderful colloquial phrases, including AMITOOLATE, NOTONEWORD (always reminds me of "Bullets Over Broadway"), and ICOMEINPEACE

Also, the slang is excellent: MERCYRULE is a longstanding phrase, but I'd never seen HOTDESKED before. And PLAYERHATERS is pretty well established, but I more commonly see it only with the second half.

I was pretty sure that 1A would be OMANI, but was briefly held up by 1D: Shaped like this answer's first letter, say (OVAL), because I misread it as referring to the clue's first answer. Fortunately that old piece of crosswordese, ARIL, helped open the corner up.

25A: Tragic flaw for Oedipus (HUBRIS) is a wonderful ROI (reference of interest - c.f. Frannie's entry in our vocab post). That caused me to look up the definition, as I had an idea of what it meant but was uncertain. Hubris is excessive pride toward, or defiance of, the gods, leading to nemesis (downfall). In Oedipus's case, his hubris was that he could ignore the fate set in store for him by the gods, when all of his actions led directly to that fate. Tough situation, you might say.


39A: Teacher's sleeve, in a pinch (ERASER) made me chuckle. 30D: Pursues a passion? (MAKESLOVE) made me raise an eyebrow. But here, the meaning is the more Victorian concept of wooing, rather than engaging in physical amorous activity.

10D: Knowledge, or a means to acquire it (SCHOLARSHIP) is an example of a kind of clue that I am increasingly appreciative of. It highlights the flexibility of the English language (I'm assuming other languages also have some flexibility as well, but I think that English is more so). 

I did not have to use BRUTEFORCE to finally finish the NW, but there was a moment where I was worried I was headed in that direction. Seeing SLAP helped open the rest. For a hot second I had CHoCKS and was trying to convince myself that it would work. Until I realized it was CHICKS.

- Colum

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Thursday, May 25, 2023, Andrew Kingsley and Garrett Chalfin

Well, this was an odd Thursday. It has a tricksy component, but the challenge is the extreme segmentation of the grid. Also, in case you hadn't noticed, the grid is asymmetric, with the two tetris segments of black squares placed differently and the southwestern border consisting of 2 squares as opposed to three in the northeastern border.

This is to allow for an extra set of SPLITPEAS at 11D/30D. The theme is phrases or words with double-Ps, which work as two independent words when you break them in between the Ps. Thus "whippets" becomes WHIP/PETS both of which work on their own. The best is definitely 28A: *Electrical current converter (POWERSUP/PLY). Nice to find that "powers up" in there!

I have noted before how little I enjoy grids where the flow of solving is dammed up by single letter connections between sections. In this grid, there are really five segments, all of which are connected to the other segments through single letter connections. So now I have complained, but it didn't really hurt my solve time too much (6:51).

Clues I enjoyed:

23A: Pronoun heard in "Hamlet" and "Richard II," appropriately (ROYALWE). Nice.

24D: Like the fact that Lance Bass sang bass for 'N Sync (APT). Apt!

43A: American charges (AIRFARES) - excellent hidden capital there.

47D: Flattened, in a way (IRONED). That's a very peculiar way to describe the act of ironing, but accurate.

Finally, the oddity of IINSIST must be mentioned. What a great way to account for adjacent Is. We approve.

- Colum

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Wednesday, May 24, 2023, Kavin Pawittranon and Nijah Morris

Well, darn it. Our constructors today are making it very difficult for me to refer to my recent vacation. The best I can do is say I saw several excellent examples of an APSE. I mean, truly massive ones at St. Paul's in London and at the cathedral in Canterbury. Ah, gothic and baroque architecture.

But it's a fun puzzle nonetheless, referencing that great game of my childhood, PACMAN. We used to play the second version, Ms. Pacman, endlessly on our Atari home computer. I had no idea what was coming until the revealer at 68A. I love the theme answers and how they disguise the aha moment so well. Particularly WAKAFLOCKAFLAME. That's some great stuff!


Fun clues today include:

19D: Last thing to go in a pocket, one hopes (EIGHTBALL) - unexpected shift to pool.

23A: One who is one, e.g. (BABY). Took me a bit to parse that.

30D: Bat an eye, say (FLIRT). 

I also liked the symmetry of SUNTEA and ICEAXE. A good Summer-Winter axis there.

I had a slight challenge with the SE corner, where MYB didn't come into focus for a while. Otherwise the puzzle flew by in 4:12. A fun and expectedly odd Wednesday.

- Colum

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Tuesday, May 23, 2023, Lee Taylor

One thing we had plenty of while we were in the UK was 1A: Beverage that may come with a bag (TEA). We did not get to Stratford-Upon-AVON, although we passed the reconstructed Globe Theatre in Southwark, right next to the Tate Modern, which was far more interesting. In Edinburgh, we got to see a full bagpipe parade on the day of Charles III's coronation (it was part of a protest), and they were all wearing the same tartan, presumably as a CLAN identification.

But enough about me and how the puzzles are clearly celebrating my vacation. Today's theme is an odd rebus/cryptic crossword clue concept, where words or phrases are created from a word and the fully written out form of a number. Thus, 16A: Poets + 10 = Serves drinks (BARTENDS) is made up of the number 10 and "bards." The other answers are:

18D: Supervisor + 9 = Quality that makes a fish hard to eat (BONINESS) or "boss" + 9.

35A: Small amphibian + 7 = Story worth covering (NEWSEVENT) or "newt" + 7. 

28D: Annoyed + 2 = "Success!" (ITWORKED) or "irked" + 2.

58A: Phase + 1 = Ancient period (STONEAGE) or "stage" + 1.

I like that as I worked my way through the grid, it felt like the numbers were going down from 10 to 1. Are there other good examples? I don't suppose "bath reeds" are a thing...

Meanwhile, I liked each corner's triple stack of 7-letter answers. I do like an APRICOT jam, although cherry is my favorite Bonne Maman flavor. GEMINIS, ADAMANT, and ZIPFILE is the most fun set, even if the latter is a thing of the past with cloud sharing.

41D: Words written in marble (EPITAPH) reminds me of seeing Sir Arthur Sullivan's gravestone in St. Paul's Cathedral.

TATA! Didn't hear anyone say that either.

- Colum

Monday, May 22, 2023

Monday, May 22, 2023, Dang Quang Thang

Seeing WASPS in the puzzle today reminded me of passing through Limerick, Ireland recently, where I recited the classic limerick by W.S. Gilbert:

There was an old man of St. Bees / Who was stung in the arm by a wasp / When asked, "Does it hurt?" / He replied, "No, it doesn't; / I'm so glad it wasn't a hornet."

Thank you very much. I'll be here all week.

Our theme is ASSEENONTV, which when reparsed as "A.S. seen on TV," we get references to four individuals who have appeared on TV whose initials are A.S. It's a nice cross-section of television personalities: one is a political commentator (ALSHARPTON), one a stand up comic (AMYSCHUMER), one is a documentary series host (ADAMSAVAGE) and one is ANDYSAMBERG.

YOURCALL and NONEED give the puzzle a nice colloquial feel. I no longer use any discs for watching entertainment, so BLURAY feels like it comes from the OBAMAERA

Where IRAN is now

But overall, the fill of this grid feels sparkly, especially for a Monday. MARBLE, GODSENDS, GLEECLUB, all are fun answers. 

33A: Place for sweaters, but not shirts? (SAUNA) is a fun clue. Along with BARE and the KAMA Sutra, there's a certain blue quality hidden in here.

PIP PIP! That's something I definitely heard not even once while in the UK.

- Colum

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Sunday, May 21, 2023, Robert Ryan


Hey, folks! It's Colum, back again for another week of reviews. Since I last posted, we went on an amazing vacation through Ireland and the United Kingdom, seeing Edinburgh, London, and Canterbury. Despite spending two weeks in the heart of cryptic crossword land, I didn't essay a single such puzzle. I know Philbo, who just gave us a fine week of reviews, loves these puzzles, and finishes them as quickly as he does the American type. I'm sure that if I worked at them, I'd get learn to appreciate them also.

But to today's puzzle: our theme is taking standard three word phrases of the format "[blank] in [blank]" and reinterpreting them so that the first two words form a gerund, dropping the G, as you do in much of America, but most notably in the south. Also, in upper class England in the 18th through the early 20th centuries, as captured in novels by P.G. Wodehouse, or Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey. In any case, here we get silly clues to capture the new meaning.

I love 23A: Bigamy, legally speakin'? (PARTNERINCRIME). Similarly, 102A: Statute regulatin' surrogacy? (MOTHERINLAW) is brilliant. The others weren't quite as humorous, although I chuckled at TALKINCIRCLES

I ran into trouble today because of a typo. I put in DeuL instead of DUEL, typing too quickly. Then I was stuck with 43A: Shade (HUE), looking at _EE. I chose L, thinking of the nautical term. Boy, that's an example of overthinking, instead of looking at the surroundings to make sure you haven't made a mistake. Easily enough fixed, but not until after finishing the entire grid and getting the sad message.

21A: Reading can be found on it (THAMES) seems very apt, as well as a fun hidden capital. Other answers which were clearly and directly referring to my vacation included 40A: Beefeater, e.g. (DRYGIN), 64A: Brussels administrative official, informally (EUROCRAT) - as we had to move from the E.U. into the U.K., and 5D: Grams in the U.K.? (NAN).

Other fun clues include 28A: Pirate fodder, once (BLANKCDS) - so un-nautical. I also liked 61D: Comprehensive report? (AHA). Such a great way to liven up a classic 3-letter answer.

Fun start to the week.

- Colum

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Saturday, May 20 2023, Erica Hsiung Wojcik

Greetings and Happy Weekend from rainy Toronto!  A nice chewy Saturday puzzle today, with a paucity of black squares and a block of intersecting triple-stacks in the middle that made for slow going.  I was helped by a couple of cleverly misleading clues that didn't trick me at all :) - "Muttonchops moisturizer" (BEARDOIL), "Silver streaks, e.g." (LODES) and "Jockey's main competitor?" (HANES).  I think when one's done enough of these crosswords, one starts looking out for that kind of misdirection.

One of the Down stacked clues was a complete unknown to me : the author of "Alexander's Bridge", for which I needed every one of the crossers to reveal WILLACATHER, who I now must properly check out.  Compensating for this difficulty were the other two Down stackers - LOOSECHANGE, often found under couch cushions, and DATACENTERS (Places for networking) - the latter being another tricksy one but I know all about datacenters so no hiccup there...

Looking back (I'm writing this about 12 hours after finishing the puzzle, which isn't ideal), I don't know why I had trouble in the SW corner.  "Capricorn's symbol" = SEAGOAT was neat to learn (the SEA part), and it helped resolve the reply to "Whatcha doin'?", which could as easily have been NUTHIN as NOTHIN.  And from my gender-specific POV, I never thought of an ovary as a GONAD.  Of course it is!  Finally in that corner, MYPRETTY wasn't obvious to me as "Dorothy, to the Wicked Witch".  No excuse there!

All in all an enjoyable solve, as are the great majority of these NYT xwords, each for its own special reason.  And with that I leave you in the capable blogging hands of Colum.  I hope you enjoyed this past week of reviews!


Thursday, May 18, 2023

Friday, May 10 2023, David Distenfeld

A typically tough Friday puzzle today, solved through a bit of a fog (per yesterday's review, and the resulting sleep disruption).  I generally like to methodically work from NW to SE, but that wasn't doing the trick today, so it was hunt + peck until "California wine county" (SONOMA) really got things moving.  After that, it was slow and steady, sidetracked by AKIN instead of TOLD for "Related" in the SW corner (that'll teach me to throw in guesses with no cross-checking!).  Reached one last stubborn spot in the middle .. I should have known, but did not know, that PETRA was a ruined city in Jordan, and I stared at TAPIN for a one-handed put-back shot for the longest time before twigging that it was TIPIN, and then I was done.   

I thought Edouard MANET's "Luncheon on the Grass" would be a nice image for today's review, and in finding the above, I discovered that there's a MONET of the same name, and in the Monet version, there is actually a luncheon featured, whereas I see no luncheon in the Manet, and, arguably, insufficient clothing to boot.  A chacun son gout, etc. etc.! 

Fun stuff along the way - the first YouTube video to hit 10B views = BABYSHARK - of course!  I thought it was that Gangnam Style song, but no.  (By the way - for those Ted Lasso fans among you - is the Jamie Tartt chant the fans sing based on Baby Shark?)  And "Gov't facility in most world capitals except Washington" was a neat way to clue USEMBASSY.  (OHNOWISEE - indeed!)  

Finished at 9:31, which I think was slow, but I blame my fatigue today.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Thursday, May 18 2023, Kiran Pandey

Tremendous Thursday offering! Mr. Pandey has gone kinda meta and cryptic on us and dropped some misleading punctuation into several clues, which must be ignored when arriving at the answers.  Why 'meta'?  Because with the punctuation in place, the clues make perfect sense, just not in the right way.  To wit:
  • "Slang, for many" = ZILLIONS - the answer's not a word used as slang by many people, it's a slang word meaning 'many'.  "Slang for many"!
  • "I, for one" = ROMANNUMERAL, not "Pronoun" or "Iodine".
  • "Scientific definition, for short" = ELECTRICALFAULT, not, I dunno, say, "Avogadro No."
  • "Length, for example" = SEVENLETTERS, not "Dimension".
  • "Anagram, for instance" = ANCIENTS, not "Wordplay".  This is the one that I twigged on.
I love this!  As a cryptic crossword solver, it really rubbed me the right way.  

Even aside from the theme, which I got most of the way through before sussing out, this was a very fun solve.  I entered "Lab" instead of GYM as a science fair location, and "Hub" not WEB for "Nexus", which set me back somewhat (Oh, and "Galas" not FLAPS for "Big to-dos".).  The SW corner just about broke me - eventually guessed EAPOE for 50 down, as hinted by the clue, and finally deduced DOUGIE as the Guy who inspired a hip-hop dance.  Is it Dougie Guy?  Or Guy Dougie?  Or just some guy named Dougie?  I suppose the Internet can tell me, if I make an ever-so-slight effort.  All told, it took me 9:05, and I felt like it was time well spent.

"Low turnover?" (SOMERSAULT) was clever, as was "Mini display?" (KNEE).  

I'd like to dwell on this puzzle some more, but I have to dash, as I have to pay a visit to the hospital at 3:30 am (yes, you read that right).  No, it's not the ICU, not THELOVEBUG nor any other kind of bug, and I'm not being ADMITTED - it's a scheduled MRI to AID the MDs in STUDYing something weird going on with my jaw.  This MIFFs me and I am GLOOMIER and less UPBEAT than I'd normally be.  So, off with me for a couple hours of sleep.  See you on the other side!


Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Wednesday, May 17 2023, Parker Higgins

 It's Divide and Conquer today, with Splitsville being the theme of the day.  There are four pairs of Across answers in the grid, with adjacent sections of each pair - separated by a black square highlighted in grey.  As indicated by the answer in the middle of the grid - DOESTHESPLITS -  these section pairs, read together, reveal something that is commonly associated with the term "split".  For example, "Grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich" = CUBAN, and "Amazon swimmers" = ANACONDAS, side by side making BAN/ANA, which indeed often appears in a split.  We also have

  • SEVEN/TEN - the dreaded impossible split in bowling
  • STO/CK - securities are often split to make them more accessible and easier to buy
  • LICK/ETY - in the history of the English language, this word has never been written without being immediately followed by the word "split".  It's true!  Look it up!
So this is a neat little trick.  Because I'm such a spoiled solver, though, I think it would have been neater if the theme answers had all been two words like the SEVEN/TEN one.  Of course, ask me for examples and I am unable to provide.  How about I stop whining and give the puzzle the appreciation it deserves?

Which it does.  There were a few things in the puzzle that I had to look up - like EBRO (the longest river completely in Spain) and SER ("To be, in Havana") <-- there it is, a dreaded Natick.  And the SE corner was a disaster, as I'd never heard of the San Bernardino suburb of LOMALINDA, and I have never heard "YAS queen!" as an enthusiastic cry - another Natick (Horace/Frannie/Colum, am I using the term correctly?) and that led me to a humiliating FWTE.  

There was plenty of fun/instructive stuff in here too : I did not know that KOA was a Hawaiian wood.  "High low voice" (TENOR) was amusing.  It was nice to see SANDRA Bullock - one of my favourite actors - make an appearance ... Can somebody please explain ETYMOLOGY to me, as the answer to "Old English, for better or worse"?  I feel like I'm missing something.

You're not getting my solving time today, as I made such a hash of things.  Better days ahead!


Monday, May 15, 2023

Tuesday May 16 2023, Katherine Baicker and Adam Wagner

Hello hello!  Today's offering has a fun theme, which will be familiar to most logophiles - the theme answers are all common words with negative prefixes to ... non-word remainders.  (This is a very poor explanation.  I take heart in knowing that if you're reading this, you've seen the crossword and know what I'm talking about..)  Take 24-Across: INDOLENT as an example: The clue reads "Lazy...even though 26-Across doesn't mean active".  But there's no 26-Across!  But wait, there's a 26-Down which starts at the 'D', and reading across from there, you get DOLENT, which indeed doesn't mean "active" or anything else for that matter.  Neat!  Surely there are many others besides the five in this puzzle.  UNKEMPT sprang to my mind, but I think KEMPT is actually a word meaning the opposite of KEMPT, so that one's no good.  UNRULYDISMEMBER maybe?  Please chime in!  

Working thru the grid with my usual modus operandi, which is to ignore the theme until the end, I found a mix of 3-letter gimmes like ABS, ORR and BIB, generationally situated ones like SOCIALS (social media apps of course), plus a few names I didn't know (e.g. "First Black Disney princess" = TIANA - perhaps another generational thing? and a Mike POSNER who apparently sang about pharmaceutical ingestion in Ibiza?  O-kaayy...)

All in all an entertaining solve, just a little crunchier for me than average on a Tuesday.  4:14 in the end.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Monday May 15 2023, Tomas Spiers

 Greetings and Happy Monday out there in Crossword-Land!  A gentle offering today, with a punny theme suggested in the theme clues by pairs of superscripted words, the small font of which indicates a "diminutive" qualifier.  So "(Earth) or (Tatooine)" becomes SMALLWORLD, and so on.  Just occurred to me - this could as easily have been DWARFPLANET... Can you think of others?   How about  "(Gary) or (Bradley)?  Or "(Basmati) or (Arborio)"?  I'll let you chew on those.  For a change, the theme helped me in the solve - as soon as SMALLWORLD revealed itself, the remaining theme answers were easy to write in, and if it hadn't been for an annoying typo partway thru, I'd have been done about 30 seconds faster than the 2:51 I wound up with.  

I like the value add of some of these clues - learning that they race YAKS in Tibet, or that the LAKERS were originally a Minnesota team (hence the name, I assume).   I will say it is a bit of a reach to pluralize ARSONS, but that's just a nit.  "The 'A' of the ABC islands" was a write-in, as ARUBA is where we honeymooned, lo these many years ago. 

That's all for today!  A nice breezy start to the week.


Sunday, May 14 2023, Sid Sivakumar

 Greetings all from the Northlands!  Philbo here, back for my second week of NYT crossword blogging - and this is my very first Sunday puzzle review.  First things first - a hello to my loving mother, who does the Sunday crossword, and whose day it is!  Hi Mum!  Happy Mother's Day!

Now on to business, with what I found to be a diabolically tricky Sunday offering.  The theme is "Alternate Endings" and I didn't think too hard about it at first, which led to massive confusion almost immediately.  "Person with a stopwatch" must be TIMER, right?  No!  it's 6 letters, not 5.  And "Meat-and -vegetables dish..." must be GUMBO?  (Hey, I dunno.)  And on that confused note, I meandered over the grid, dropping in the odd gimme - like 'French for "between"' = ENTRE; "Small fox with unusually large ears" = FENNEC - how has that word stuck in my brain since childhood? and MISSILE Command, into which untold numbers of quarters were deposited in my youth...and it was only upon getting the ZIPPER MERGES revealer, largely from the crossers, that I twigged to what was going on, and clever indeed it is:  pairs of Down entries starting out on their own and then their final letters merging, alternately and ZIPPER-wise, in a single shared entry below, with the alternate letters forming a valid phrase of their own!  đŸ€Ż    So for example, "Person with a stopwatch" and "Meat-and-vegetables dish" went like this:

TIMEKE and jamba ---> lEaPyEaR

 See?  Neat, eh?  And the merged part LEAPYEAR stands on its own!  I think this is genius.    There are five of these, distributed evenly throughout the grid, which today has an interesting left-right symmetry, imposed I think by the theme.

Along the way, the grid was liberally sprinkled with obscurity and trickily-clued answers, enough that I never really got going at the speed I'm used to solving at (and kudos to Mr. Sivakumar for that).  A bit of an "eeew" moment at "Tablet you might take in the bathroom" (IPAD)

Executive summary: great, challenging puzzle!  17:12 for me and a battle the entire way.

A demain mes amis!





Saturday, May 13, 2023

Saturday, May 13, 2023, Spencer Leach

Well, somewhat happily for this solver, today's puzzle wasn't too difficult - although I did hit a near-Natick (more on that below). It's another busy day in Horace and Frannie Land, so being able to complete the puzzle in good time came in handy, but one does like a Saturday to put up a bit more of a fight. My solve time was a fast-for-me 14:15, despite the fact that the grid contained a lot of unfamiliar material like the fact that PLAYERONE is the person who controls the leftmost set of buttons on an arcade cabinet, that a zythophile loves BEER, a fast food chain called DELTACO, and how to spell SRIRACHA. :)

The one CRIMP in my solve came at the cross between "Soul singer Williams" and "Some users of them/they pronouns, informally." I mentioned the hold up to Horace and, what do you know, he DROPSAHINT; he said a person could figure out the "pronouns" answer. Well, that person wasn't me - I never did figure it out, but I did guess that DENIECE might be a person's first name, giving ENBIES for the Across and avoiding prolonged HEADDESK action.


I enjoyed QMC and the non-QMC pair in the tippity top of the northwest corner: "Bits of Intel?" (CHIPS) and "Bit of tea, to Brits" (RUMOUR). Other ROIs include "Like the Count of Monte Cristo" (IMPRISONED) - I'm not a fan of imprisonment, but Alexandre Dumas is my favorite author, bar none. Plus, when I read that book about black holes last weekend, I had no idea it would come in so handy with this week's puzzles. Thanks to the time I read about space, I was able to drop in SPACETIME - there's a better joke in there somewhere, but I don't have the time or mental space to find it. 

"Changed the locks?" for DYED, "Game with a lot of instructions (SIMONSAYS), "A little bit of company?" and "It might be 70 feet long" (SONNET) were fun. Also, IDIG the E.B. White quote "'HUMOR can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process.'"

After a week of reviews that I'm sure left you BOREDTODEATH, starting tomorrow, this space REJOINS the RHEA crossword world. 

I bid you a HASTY farewell,

Friday, May 12, 2023

Friday, May 12, 2023, Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

Sorry for the late review, dear Readers. I kept thinking I would get to it after getting out my ARTPENCILS and I designed and making two t-shirts, after I did the laundry, then after I raked the yard, and then as soon as I cleaned up our three-season porch in preparation for our guest coming to our house this evening, and finally, after I cleaned myself up - TMI? Not much of a MEDAY, in any case. Anyhoo, the reality is that I didn't do any of the above, as you, clever Readers, may have already guessed. Now, our guest is on the porch with us, and Horace says, "did you write the review?" It was at that moment that I realized I had not. So, here I am, writing the review, without benefit of the app on which I solved the puzzle, and with benefit (?) of a glass of Oban, and, in a hurry so I can visit with our guest. 


I *think* I solved the puzzle relatively quickly for a Friday - something around the 13 minute mark, if memory serves. I do remember that the most difficult section for me was the southwest. Fortunately, eventually, I was able to clear the static and tune in NEWSRADIO, which I remember vaguely, but never really watched. ANTIGONE was slower to come to center stage. BEERAMID, il faut l'admettre, is pretty amusing. 

I do remember having some discomfiture with the clue "Doktor alternative" (HERR) because as I understand it, if you are entitled to one or more honorifics in German, you use them *all* - not one or the other.

I think you have some sense of my current IDEAMAP, and must, therefore realize that I have to cut this short. Until tomorrow, dear Readers. 


Thursday, May 11, 2023

Thursday, May 11, 2023, Sheldon Polonsky

I love this theme. In an odd turn of events, I read a book about black holes over the weekend and the equation EEQUALS[MC]SQUARED and many things EINST[MC]INIAN were discussed therein. I forgot today was trick puzzle Thursday until I reached the clue at 45D, "Video game whose working title was Micropolis," which I knew had to be SI[MC]ITY. When that didn't fit, I finally twigged to the rebus. The rebus is [MC] "squared." Both letters are used in the Down answers (as above), but they are used as an E in the Across answers - because E=MC^2. So fun! I think all the theme answers are good, but my favorite has to be AQUACAD[MC]S. Maybe the rebus squares feature quantum entanglement: when they are observed as Down answers, they manifest as MC, and then they Across letter is automatically E. Too much?

Illustration of a black hole

I was amused when, upon review, I saw how the clue at 1A ("Latin stars") could be interpreted more than one way, but when I was solving the puzzle, I didn't think twice about it and dropped in ASTRA. I'm not sure what the collective noun is for famous people from Latin countries, but if there's any order to this universe, whatever the correct word is, it's five letters long. Kicking off the grid with ASTRA and visually ending the puzzle with HUNTER ("Orion, for one") supplies some possible bonus material. We've got TITAN and LUNA in there, too, giving the whole thing a certain ELEGANCE

OTH, the grid gets a little SQMI around the middle (IAMS, SEG, AAA), but our sun is going to supernova one of these days anyway, so who cares? 

I finished with at time of 21:21, which, even though I know that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42, I still feel the number must have some cosmic significance, if only I can solve the equation. Maybe if I CUBIT?


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Wednesday, May 10, 2023, Victor Barocas

Today's constellation of theme answers relate to stars and configurations thereof, clued with alternate descriptions - like everyone likes! "Ursa Major and Ursa Minor?" can now be described as OVERBEARS, "Pegasus?" as a HIGHHORSE, and my favorite, "Sagittarius and Orion?" as SHOOTINGSTARS. Ha. 

I was happy with the two French clues, "Opposite of 'sans'" (AVEC) and "Avignon affirmative" (OUI). Other ROIs (References of Interest) for this solver are SPICE ("Critical resource harvested in 'Dune'"), BURP ("Tupperware lid sound"), and PEPYS ("Famed diarist Samuel"). I also enjoy the idea of people actually saying AHEM to get noticed by others. I'll have to try it out on my RETINUE.

ChĂąteau de Vaux-le-Vicomte located in Maincy, France. Photo credit, yours truly.

Clue-wise, I really liked "A growing number?" for AGE, and the pair "Defensive line?" for ALIBI and "Offensive line?" for SLUR. Our esteemed Readers probably knew this already, but even though I studied Latin as a youth, I learned just last night on the Jeopardy! Masters tournament that ALIBI means 'elsewhere' in Latin. ACES!  

Fill-wise, I enjoy CASHEW, HAM, and ALES (heh). And how about the two parallel-and-yet-completely-not long answers in the north east and southwest: BRATISLAVA and GANGSTARAP - where else but the NYTX are you going to find those two keeping company?

Based on the fill in the northwest, I think the constructor was trying to subliminally encourage the authors of the influential publication that is HAFDTNYTXFCA to write a stellar review. Why else would the words BLOG and RAVE appear next to each other at 1D and 2D? There can be no other explanation. Mission accomplished. :)


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Tuesday, May 9, 2023, Margaret Seikel

Many peaces make up the theme answers in today's puzzle: each theme clue features an emoji-style image of the hand formation that can be variously read as a PEACESIGN, VFORVICTORY, BUNNYEARS in a photo, or a request for TWOPLEASE, when ordering. It may also be the case that there's a representation of a V in the shape of the grid. Or is it a smiley face? Or maybe it's POP[T]ART. Heh. Other sets of two in the puzzle are the homophones OBI and OBIE, and the nostalgic NODRAMA OBAMA pairing. Another possible twosome is the fun TROVE and AVAST


Perhaps taking the two theme too far, I hit a couple of slow downs during the solve. I started with the Down clues and quickly entered LOGCABIN for 6D, and OBIE for 7D. I didn't immediately know what to make of the clue for 8D ("Implement for eating soup but probably not for stirring coffee") so I left the area with LO_. When I went back to that section to finish it off, a combination of the way the app works (you kind of see both the A and D clues at the same time) and an APSE of attention, a glance at the clue "Early home for Abraham Lincoln" led me to enter LOg at 6A for "Tennis shot that might be smashed back," even though it made no sense, which left me with 'gIGSPOON' and a big mental question mark at 8D. A careful review of that section cleared up the situation, but at the cost of over a minute. TOOBAD. Elsewhere, thanks in part to the already-entered A in OMEGA at 9D, my first guess for "Make believe" at 26A was 'imAgine' instead of the correct PLAYACT which didn't help my speed (9:29). 

Clue-wise, I would have preferred "Bottomless pit" to "Bottomless well" for ABYSS. OTH, I admired the number of words in the clue "Incline that affords access" to describe RAMP, and FOOT for "Print maker?" hit the mark. :)


Monday, May 8, 2023

Monday, May 8, 2023, Catherine Cetta

Greetings, dear Readers! Frannie here to take a rennet today’s puzzle, which is right up my alley. Who doesn’t love a grid just Boursin with cheesy smiles? Groups of circled letters are names of cheeses in the shape of a smile, combining a photographer’s spoken request (SAYCHEESE) with the desired result. From top left to bottom right we are offered five cheeses: CREAM, EDAM, FETA, SWISS, and BLUE. Although I am what some would describe as a fussy eater, I have yet to meet a cheese I don’t like: any kind of cheese is gouda nuff for me.



In what I hope is bonus theme material, we get a good companion to a plate of cheeses: WINERY, along with a warning that too many such gustatory extravagances might result in the need to REFIT ones clothes.

The grid is packed with culture-al references both past and present with entries like NINA Simone, ALAN Turing, Jay LENO, FACETIMED, and GROUPHUG. Going whey back, we also have ELBA (Napoleon’s ex-isle) and TSAR (“Russian title derived from ‘Caesar’”).

In the main, the solve was a brie-ze for this puzzler, with only one hard spot. When I read the clue “Map box” I decided it was probably a thing that contained maps, rather than a box that appears on maps (INSET). A box *on* a map never o’curd to me. What a cheddar head!


Sunday, May 7, 2023

Sunday, May 7, 2023, Will Nediger


Some years ago, five maybe?, I took a metaphysics class at the Harvard Extension School. I knew very little about metaphysics at the time, and while I was in the class I disliked it intensely. I thought, These questions are so unnecessary! Why are we wasting our time on this stuff? Well, that was then. Ever since dropping the class, the questions have been popping up in my mind over and over again, and one of the very good ones is the Ship of Theseus. 


The thought experiment runs like this - The people of Athens preserved Theseus's ship for hundreds of years after his death by carefully replacing any rotten boards with new, identical boards. Similarly, other parts were replaced as necessary, always with an exact replica. After a certain amount of time, every single piece of the ship had been replaced with a new piece. Is it still Theseus's ship? For the purposes of the thought experiment, it has never left its spot in the harbor. 

Now consider a wrinkle introduced by Thomas Hobbes. Imagine that all the parts that had to be replaced were collected and put back together in a different place. Would that be Theseus's ship? Would they both be? Would neither be?

Mr. Nediger today starts with the SHIPOFTHESEUS in 22-Across, then slowly removes and replaces every letter before presenting us with the SHIPOFTHESEUS again in 121-Across. Is it the same ship? This time it's physically in two different places, but it's the same ship. Or is it?

Coincidentally, today I write this review from a beach cottage which, just a few years ago, had much of its supporting structure replaced, and all of its cedar shingle siding. And the roof shingles were replaced maybe a decade ago. I don't think anyone would argue that it's not the same house, but it is now missing many of its original elements. 

Consider, too, yourself. There is a common misconception that every cell in the body is replaced every seven years. While this isn't exactly true, it is true that a large percentage of our cells are replaced over time, and it's happening every day. Are you the same person you were yesterday? Ten years ago? Me, I take up a lot more space now than I did when I was a baby. How do I reconcile that difference?

In one way, these questions are pointless to ask, because the answers, if there are any (is that NOSILLY at the end an answer from Mr. Nediger himself?), don't make any practical difference to the way we live. But if you like arguments, they can be a gold mine.

Are they worth having to fill in words like UPPISH, OTIOSITY, and NULLITY? I will CLAMUP and leave that discussion to you.

Frannie takes over tomorrow. I'll see you LATA.

- Horace

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Saturday, May 6, 2023, Carter Cobb

Another lovely Saturday grid. Kind of a big Z shape, with triple-stacks top and bottom. Stacks are always a little daunting, but here, the top, anyway, had a few gimmies - STACEY (Voting rights activist Abrams), HIDES (Prepares for a surprise party), and OLES (Cries after un gran gol de fĂștbol) were enough to give me THRILLAINMANILA (Much-viewed showdown of 1975) (It was viewed in my house), and Swift's classic AMODESTPROPOSAL. After that, the top was finished up in maybe five minutes. The lower half, on the other hand, didn't go so quickly.


Interesting trivia about SAMOA (Nation that moved east of the International Date Line in 1892 and west of it in 2011). Good QMCs included WHISK (Beat in a bake-off?), SOLARCAR (One traveling by daylight?), and "What a helicopter might fly out of?" (MAPLE). My downfall came at 40A: College-level course for H.S. coders (APCS). I did not know this abbreviation for "Advanced Placement Computer Science," and had guessed APpS, which made ALACARTE (Individually, in a way) incredibly difficult for me to see. I might also have been slightly distracted by an absurd ceremony that was happening on the TV. Some kind of dress-up affair in a church, and then a golden coach being pulled by white horses, and a bunch of announcers pronouncing "mall" as "mehl."

One thing you might find amusing is that I have a folder on my work computer labeled "Mens REA," and I use it to store various questionable things that I may or may not have downloaded and which may or may not be completely ... well, you know. I adapted the idea of one of Frannie's co-workers, who had a folder on his desktop labelled "Porn." His argument was, "If they open it, they know what they will get."

So anyway... I'm a big fan of PROPEACE activities, and when SOLARCARs are viable, I would like to buy one.

Tricky Saturday. 

- Horace

Friday, May 5, 2023

Friday, May 5, 2023, Jacob McDermott

An attractive Friday grid with nice chunky corners today, and a few WISECRACKS (Silly sallies) (Hah!). 

I had false starts in almost every quadrant - I went with the more common Jean instead of HANSARP, I had heart rate before PULSERATE, and game one before BOOKONE (Series opener). And I can never remember how to spell Telly SAVALAS. I guess maybe now I will remember it. It's all As, just like cemetery is all Es. ... Do you have things like that in your head, too? I guess everybody must. Like the classic "righty tighty lefty loosey," or that "stalactites hold tight to the ceiling." My brother also pointed out to me a while ago that stalactite has a C for ceiling, and stalagmite has a G for ground. 

OK, where was I? What did we decide to call clues like "That's incredible!" for TALLTALE? I think it was "False Imperative Clue," or FIC. And there's a nice callback to Tuesday's puzzle in "They may be shaken, but not stirred" (FISTS). 

"One way to reach a distant star" (FANLETTER) was cute. I liked learning the term "Owl-light" for DUSK - I might have to work that into a poem sometime... and who doesn't enjoy thinking about FONDUEPOTS (Holders of many long-handled forks). Mmmmmm... fondue...

Some long answers POPPED a little less, like ITSUPPORT and the somewhat related DATALOSS, but overall, this was a fine Friday.

- Horace

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Thursday, May 4, 2023, David J. Kahn

Today I had the odd sensation of finishing the puzzle without really understanding what was going on. I had spoken with solvers at the A.C.P.T. (better solvers than I) who told me that they did that with Puzzle Five, and I thought it sounded almost like magic. But, well, today it happened to me, and it didn't really feel magical. Just weird.

So I spent a minute or two looking at it after I finished, and saw that "Toni" did in fact occur in 3D: Writer Morrison, but the full answer was RIGATONI. I put this together with the revealer "Proceeds from an asset ... or a hint to understanding six answers in this puzzle" (CAPITAL / GAINS) and voilĂ ! Then it was just a matter of removing those gained national capitals. TIMBERLINES (What "x" might mean) became "times," LOSLOBOS (Some corp. takeovers) became "LOBOs" (leveraged buyouts) (this is the weakest one), MOSQUITO (Criminal patterns, in brief) MOs, PARISHES (Fellows) is "hes" (ok, this one isn't great either), and BAKINGSTONE (Sweetheart) is, obviously, "bae." Fun trick!

And we get a bonus of the legislative and executive capital of SRI Lanka in what is a nice combination of clues - "Colombo's country, in Olympic shorthand" (SRI) and "Former name of Colombo's country" (CEYLON). 

There are a couple "fancy vocabulary" C/APs in "Helicon, e.g., musically speaking" (TUBA) and "Hollywood" vis-Ă -vis the film industry, e.g." (METONYM). And a nice pair of workout clues in "Drops in the gym?" (SWEAT) (heh) and "Bench press target" (PEC). 

"Summer music" (DISCO) features a lovely hidden capital (Donna Summer), but "Material that's bad for the mouth?" (SILT) is a bit of a stretch. I mean, sure, silt forms a delta at the mouth of a river, but is it always bad? It's just nature being nature. And what do we think of SOG as a verb? Hah. I think it's just crosswords being crosswords. And it's a small price to pay for a fun, challenging Thursday.

- Horace

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Wednesday, May 3, 2023, Samuel A. Donaldson

Britney is finally free, and the crossworld salutes her. Here her 2000 classic OOPSIDIDITAGAIN is cited for adding "it" to three phrases, which are then clued into amusingness. 


WHOCANITBITENOW - Vicious pet handler's query? (Was that Men at Work?)
ITSAGOODTITHING - Observation when the collection plate is overflowing? (Har har)
IGUESSITSFINITE - "So much for my theory that the universe has no end"? (Word!)

My favorite is the last one, because I have difficulty believing that the universe is infinite. But we don't have time (nor, likely, any appetite) for that discussion here.

I got lost in the game a little while I was solving. You see my problem was this - "Some occupations?" was tricky for PROTESTS, and for some reason it took me way too long to think of TOM for "Barnyard male." Ha! And I think I had "mpa" instead of AFI ("100 Years ... 100 Movies" org.). Is there an AMA? American Movie Association? ... I don't know. Can't you see I'm a fool in so many ways?

I enjoyed the two "Skywalker mentor" clues (KENOBI/YODA), and the whole thing seemed very Scrabbly, didn't it? SEZ, AMAZE, JAW, RIOJA, KATMANDU, IKE, PARK, KIR, COW... that's a lot of points right there. 

One thing I didn't love was the clue for GLOMONTO - "Seize hastily." I always think of GLOMONTO as meaning "to adhere" or "to ingratiate" or "to jump onto the bandwagon." Have I been wrong all this time? If so, that is just so typically me. UGH.

In tOTO, really enjoyed this one. All aboard.

- Horace

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Tuesday, May 2, 2023, Aimee Lucido

Me, I usually stir my martinis, but JAMESBOND, he usually doesn't. My favorite moment in recent Bond movies is when Daniel Craig, in answer to the classic "Shaken or stirred?" responds, "Do I look like I give a damn?" 


So anyway, today, the martinis are shaken and hidden within other words. Nice words like MTRANIER (Tallest peak in the Cascades) and DOMINATRIX (Woman who might wield a whip). Heh. I like how MADAMS and AMOROUS run right through the start of that. Not typical material for ROMCOMS, but that could be related material too, I suppose. As could FRIEND.

Some nice B-foods in the Downs today: BURRATA (Mozzarella-and-cream cheese often served as an appetizer) and the well-clued BURRITOS (They might be full of beans). Mmmm... BURRITOS...

And who here has made a TIEDYE? I REMAIN a fan of the simple art form. In fact, we might make some more pretty soon. Frannie got a kit for doing shibori, and I'm looking forward to trying it.

There was a little bit of the ol' IMS, ASU, SSN, MGM, ETA, DNA, ANS... but mix me a martini (any way you want to) and I'm a happy solver. :)

- Horace

Monday, May 1, 2023

Monday, May 1, 2023, Alina Abidi and Matthew Stock

Rabbit, Rabbit! 

Do any of you out there say that on the first of the month? My mother used to say it, and I have no idea why, but now I do too.

FOG in San Francisco

And speaking of animals, that's today's theme! Coincidence? I don't th... oh ok, probably. There's the RATRACE, a SALMONRUN, the FOXTROT, a CATWALK, and a BEARCRAWL. That's animal+activity. And if you go from the bottom up and right to left, it's crawl-walk-trot-run-race. There's a nice left-right symmetry, and there's no revealer. I like it. You could almost imagine that the black squares toward the middle of the puzzle look like the nose of some animal - dog? bear? and those things at the top could be eyes... or hey, they could be flopped over rabbit ears! OOH! Maybe this is a Rabbit Rabbit puzzle after all ... no ... that's probably just my NOODLE going a little CAPRESE...

It seemed like there were a lot of threes and fours, and we ended up with a little AMAN, MMA, MAA, MOO, OTS, MRI, GMC, ETC. But then there were some nice entries too. TOURIST, SANDART, ENDEMIC, and GASLIT were all good. And the aforementioned CAPRESE. Mmmm... caprese... 

Overall, a fun Monday and a good start to the week.

- Horace