Monday, July 31, 2023
Sunday, July 30, 2023
DOING FRONT FLIPS
Everybody loves a Spoonerism, right? Does that need to be capitalized? Are eponyms capitalized? .... let's move on.
I very much enjoyed seeing CHAUTAUQUA (Social movement that Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed "the most American thing in America") because Frannie and I just spent the past few days in one such community. It isn't quite the same as it was when I was little, but what is, right? People have been complaining about the downfall of society since society itself became a thing.
Speaking of society. Are we part of the problem if we celebrate a clue like "Dreaded collectors" for TAXMEN? Are we agreeing to a social contract or not? And if we do, should we not also agree that shared funds are a universal good? Sure, there is always the question of how they should be spent, but if you want to change that, get involved in local politics, don't just complain that there's a pothole in front of your house. Ugh. Sorry.
My favorite of the themers is "Can you believe I sneaked into Buckingham Palace in a trunk and saw the king? I was a ..." (THRONESSTOWAWAY). Guffaw. But honorable mention goes to THREEMARESQUEALSADAY ("Enjoy your stay on our horse farm. I hope it's not too noisy. You can expect ...") for the audacity.
Good C/APs include: "With these, one can surely walk on water" (SEALEGS), "Rare treat, maybe" (STEAK) (Eat less of this), and "Didn't pick up what someone was putting down" (MISSEDACUE). And in the interesting trivia department - "Choctaw word for "people," as seen in a U.S. state name" (OKLA).
Frannie takes over tomorrow for the WEEKDAY puzzles. Enjoy!
Saturday, July 29, 2023
OK ... yesterday I bragged a little about finishing quickly. Not so today! Although admittedly I was a little distracted because while I was solving I was following an online auction that was being conducted in Dutch ... but whatever excuses I might throw up, for a little while I was in PANIC mode thinking IGOTNOTHIN.
I think the first big break I got was FRIGIDAIRE (Cool brand to have in the kitchen), and I had guessed TONKA (Truck maker since 1947), so that led to BANKCARD (Precious plastic), but even when that whole corner was done, I thought of Colum when the only way into the center was the still-unsolved 27A.
Speaking of, nice use of Qs in this grid. In the first instance, it is used both ways without a U, in QTIP (Canal implement) (not "lock"!) and QRCODE (Element of many modern ads). The second use is more standard, with QUITEBAD (Not just subpar) and QUASH (Shut down), and in the third place, it is in the middle of BEQUEATH (Pass on) (nice), and at the end of MEMPHISBBQ (Some slow-cooked Southern fare, informally).
And finally, at the end of the review, I'll praise the very beginning of the puzzle. Both CAMELHUMPS (These don't hold water) and AREYOUHIGH ("What?! That's absurd!") are excellent. Also, the misdirection in "Song in mariachi?" (ARIA), and the related clue "Met highlight" (GALA) were great.
A fine, tricky Saturday. Thanks, Mr. Ezersky, may I have another?
Friday, July 28, 2023
A pleasing grid today. Open corners, attractive symmetry, and some nice entries.
I really should end the review right there, but I'll mention a few things I liked.
WHODOESTHAT ("The nerve of some people!") reminds me of our good friend Kath. We bonded with her at a party by saying that very line over and over again as guests left napkins in plants and plates on sofa backs. Good times.
ACETIC acid took me back to my darkroom days, and SOUSA took me back to Flag Day at Tatnuck Elementary, where I used to bring in my family's album so they could play marches at the outdoor assembly. I think I may have even read something about the flag at a lectern while wearing my cub or boy scout uniform one year. Again I say - good times.
One more thing - I didn't realize that "accouterments" was an acceptable variant of "accoutrements," as in "Camp accouterments" (BOAS). But then, this is coming from the guy who lost every single game of mancala when he played Colum's daughter, who was maybe six at the time. And I wasn't just being a polite guest. I don't throw games. Cece could work magic with those STONES.
On the other hand, the puzzle went pretty quickly for me today. How about you?
Thursday, July 27, 2023
Interesting little trick today, where the first two Across answers on four lines must be combined into one word and used as a clue for the third Across on that same line. To wit:
EPIC + CENTER = CORE
LIME + RICK = VERSE
DISCO + VERY = FIND
CONS + TRAIN = BIND
It's a nice little theme. I like a bit more of a trick on a Thursday, but whatevs, it did take me almost two minutes longer than the Wednesday puzzle, and that is, I understand, the main criteria for a Thursday, so we're all good.
In the fill... who doesn't love the AMISH, with their resistance to progress? If we were all AMISH, we wouldn't be in this climate situation today. I used to love playing CANASTA as a child, even though back then my hand was only just barely big enough to fan out thirteen cards evenly. (Also, we never had to ANTE in CANASTA. That was more for Michigan Rummy.)
The three names in the center were VERY tricksy for this out-of-touch solver. "Actor Werner of 'Jules and Jim'" (OSKAR), "Rea ____, graphic designer who created The New Yorker's typeface and mascot" (IRVIN), and "Morty's cartoon pal" (RICK), are all pretty narrow fields of knowledge, and when combined with the weird plural ACMES (Peaks) ... well, it made for a little stress. I ended up getting RICK from the theme.
Speaking of being out-of-touch... what's "dirty POOL?" Am I supposed to know this? And the CHEVY logo looks like a bowtie to you? Did it change recently?
Sorry. Sorry. Too snarky. Now I FEELBAD.
Kidding! I was just fitting in more words from the puzzle! :P
OK. I should really go. See you tomorrow!
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
Another interesting theme of FINISHLINEs. A SHRINKWRAP, for example, could be a pyschiatrist's "I'm afraid our time is up." And "Sorry you're upset! Gotta run, late for my nail appointment" is definitely a SHALLOWEND. Hah! Who thinks of these things? Well, Mary Crane, that's who. This is her debut as an NYTX constructor, and maybe the key to getting new themes is to keep getting new constructors. It's kind of cool that humans, who are all so similar, can be so different. My little one-line bio for a lot of the online FRIENDZONEs is "Just like you, only different." I think it applies to everyone.
I enjoyed the old-timey HASTEN (Speed up), and Oscar Wilde never fails to disappoint ("IRONY is wasted on the stupid"). "Revolutionary invention?" (WHEEL) was cute, as was "Company making tracks" (LIONEL). Is Lionel still making tracks? - the short answer is no, but kind of. Like with many companies, the original Lionel ended (in 1969) and then the name continued on. It still operates as Lionel, LLC. But that's not important now.
Had a little trouble in the SE, where I guessed ZEd instead of ZEE (26th of 26) and Red dOTS (?!) instead of Red HOTS (candy brand), but things were straightened out quickly enough.
Fun Wednesday. Looking forward to the Turn tomorrow!
Tuesday, July 25, 2023
In the words of the great Amy Reynaldo, "Tuesdays gonna tuez." Today we have familiar generic "[something] and [something else]" phrases that are humorously assigned to specific things. As in "Two things associated with Gene Simmons?" (KISSANDMAKEUP). See, Gene Simmons was (is?) the lead singer for the band Kiss, and he is known for wearing elaborate make-up on stage. Or "Two things associated with the Vatican?" (TOWNANDCOUNTRY), because it is both an independent country (an elective absolute monarchy) and a city. Which I guess can be called a town? Anyway, you know what they mean.
"Two things associated with the tale of Sisyphus?" (ROCKANDROLLER) is maybe my favorite. It's so compact. You've got the rock, and you've got the roller. Heh.
So what else? The musical scale comes into it again, complete with the three-letter fifth note, in "String before fa-sol-la" (DOREMI), I loved the clue for OCEAN (It goes from coast to coast), and AMENITY (Wi-Fi or room safe, at a hotel) is a decorative word. Some nice etymology in "Unit that derives from Old English for 'open field'" (ACRE). That Old English "aecer" and Latin "ager" should both mean "the amount of land that a yoke of oxen can plow in one day" seems to indicate an older Indo-European origin for this word. And that's not really surprising, given the age of agriculture itself.
Anywho.. I enjoyed "Setting for a bicycle race?" (GEAR), and "Place for lions, thieves or a TV" was cute for DEN.
A fine Tuesday.
Monday, July 24, 2023
Happy Monday, Dear Readers. Today we are all dealing with SCARLET LETTERS. No, not because of adulterous affairs, but because all four theme answers are composed entirely of THE letters in "SCARLET."
A tidy little set. I suppose now I have to check to see that no other entries can be formed using letters from SCARLET ... well, REESE is, but it doesn't use all of them. LES, AER, CASAS ... but like I said, not all of them. Let's just assume no other words in the puzzle do. OK?
But what about the rest of today's puzzle? Is GOODLOSER a response to IMALLIN? Especially if you've tried your DARNEDEST?
Anybody know what day UNDAY is? It's October 24th. I looked it up for you. You're welcome. 1945, by the way. But that was definitely guessable.
OK, there are dogs barking everywhere, I'm SAD, and I GOTTA go. I hope you enjoyed this. I'll see you tomorrow.
Sunday, July 23, 2023
Ahh, English. Where HIGH DOUBTS (Secret lairs) can sound like "hide-outs," and FORK WARTS (Equivalent of one gallon) is equivalent to "four quarts." It's funny how that unvoiced velar K moves toward the voiced labial-velar W. And really, they're all so good. NEIGH MITT ("Anything you want!"), PLAGUE EARL (Former magazine that featured male nudes), SLOPE OAK (Lollygagger)... they're all spot on.
It reminds me of my French Dad, who often did this kind of thing between languages. He would say that he was very "cravate rouge" which, if you were translating idiomatically into English, would be "red tie," but if you wanted to understand him, you would need to say "tie red" or, "tired." And when he said he wanted to take a "green cat," you would translate back to french to get "chat vert," and then back into English sounds with a French accent, to get "shower." Yeahhh.... so we've been dealing with this for a while.
Speaking of French, I should probably confess that I have a bit of a Fleur de SEL habit. On one of our last trips, we actually drove out to Guérande to see the pools where they harvest it, and I bought a bag from a guy who was selling it at a little table, like at a farmstand, but he only had one product. It was fine, though, because that's the only product I was interested in. A little bag of a white granular substance. I should have filled a suitcase with them. The TSA would have loved that...
WHEREWEREWE ... I absolutely loved the clue "Side by side, maybe?" for AREA. And "Things revealing basic truths?" (PHTESTS) was very tricksy!
OK. It's Boswords day, and Frannie and I are both going. If you're going too, good luck!
Saturday, July 22, 2023
Apologies to our readers for yesterday's SNAFU, and LETT me just say how grateful I am to Horace for filling in. Also, how sad I am to have missed reviewing a fine Robyn Weintraub concoction.
However, today's is certainly no slouch! A lot more challenging than your typical Saturday, for this solver. I wasn't sure about anything in the NW to NE segment, until SERENADE and "snafu." Even then, I had to continue down the spiral to the bottom section. I was able to put in PANAMAS (nice bit of ROI there), as well as SSN, ATWT, PSI, and LINT, but I wasn't seeing the longer answers.
LATKES and LON were enough to finally get some traction. I also did not know that Baryshnikov was ethnically a Lett. Sometimes with this sort of puzzle you just need enough of the crossing letters for the long answers to see what they're getting at. I now also had DALI and EDGARS in place, and finally saw 45A: Academic umbrella (ARTSANDLETTERS). SOULBROTHERS and EPICENTERS followed.
I surely wanted "soft G" for 36A: General starting point? (CADET). It's nice when the tendency to assume really tricky Saturday level cluing can trip you up. 30A: Report on a match (IMETSOMEONE) is very good, but much sillier is 27A: Ones at the bar for a few drafts? (HANGGLIDERS). Wow, that's some twisted reparsing!
Great to see Hope's high school classmate SUSANRICE get the full NYT crossword treatment. 20D: Some seals (SIGNETS) was beautifully vague.
Finally, I worked my way back across the northern segment, with only the endings in place. 7D: Mind reading, in brief? (EEG) was tough. It couldn't be ESP, because that was too straightforward. At the same time, let's be clear: an EEG does no interpretation of the mind. Only of the electrical activity that is able to be picked up through the bone of the skull with ludicrously sensitive electrodes...
Was that too much Neuro geeking? Oh, well. It's what you get for reading a review by a Neurologist.
HOMEREMEDIES was the one I first got, followed by DOUBLEDOGDARES and finally 1A: Turnovers on a football field, maybe? (CARTWHEELS). I'm not sure why the football field portion of the clue was necessary, except to mislead the meaning of the first word. I guess cheerleaders might do cartwheels there, but I don't think many others are.
11D: Something one can pay for free (HOMAGE) is very well done. We should all do this. I suppose I am doing this right now to Mr. Logan. Great job, sir!
Any time we see Robyn Weintraub's name on a puzzle byline, we know we are in for some SILLY fun. The deep end of the NYTX constructors' TALENTPOOL is crowded, but Ms. Weintraub is ONE of the SWANS. Is that a thing? Can I call her a swan? OK, how about ACE? ... I may have lost my way a bit with the metaphors, but let's just get on with the review, shall we?
"Class some people are dying to get into?" (ANATOMYLAB) was a nice bit of dark humor. And we just came into possession of two FONDUEPOTS (Features of some cheesy dinner parties?), so that was nice to see, too. "One who's out and about?" (SLEEPWALKER) took me forever, but I had a good chuckle when it finally did res in. See also: SNOWDAYS (Possible result of a major fall) and TENOR (Barbershop fixture?). And "Exchange rings?" was a nice way of getting to PLAYPHONETAG.
The other long answers were a little more matter-of-fact. "Boundary for 'first and goal' plays" (TENYARDLINE), "Creatures that can regrow a lost tooth up to 50 times" (ALLIGATORS), and "Towers from which muezzins announce calls to prayer" (MINARETS), for example. Good, but eliciting no GASPS.
"Knight clubs" was cute for MACES, "Preceder of Christmas" (MERRY) was fun, and Frannie, I'm sure, enjoyed DATAMINES just as much as I enjoyed NEMO (Name that means "no one" in Latin).
I'm just filling in for Colum for a day. He should be back with a Saturday review, then I come back on Sunday. I think it's likely I'll be at Boswords this year. Maybe I'll see you there.
Another solid offering from Ms. Weintraub. TADA indeed. :)
Thursday, July 20, 2023
For all of our readers who enjoy a late morning nap, today's puzzle is for you. But not because it's boring!
The revealer comes at 59A: Accommodation for a long train trip ... or a hint to entering a certain letter 14 times in this puzzle (SLEEPINGCAR). The letter in question is Z, as it turns out, and the trick is that each theme answer has a car manufacturing brand hidden inside, and those letters have been replaced with the snoozing sound of a gently snoring individual.
Thus, 17A: Worth discussing, as an issue (UPZZZZEBATE) is missing "Ford." 3D: Technological breakthrough first seen on "Jeopardy" in 2011 (IZZZATSON) is missing "BMW." Boy, this one took me a long time to get! Nice job hiding that one. 37A: Snowbird or Steamboat (SZZZREA) is missing "Kia," and 34D: Classic 1934 novel written in the form of an autobiography (ICLZZZZUS) is missing "Avdi."
Just kidding! It's actually "Audi." We used to call the television series "I Clavdivs" because of the Roman letters.
Fun concept, and well carried out! Only one of the four car brands is not broken up across multiple theme answer words, but it's still well hidden. I wonder if other brands could work as well.
|OZMA of Oz|
Tricky clues today include:
23A: Crown cover (ENAMEL)
8A: Something you might pick up from a restaurant (AROMA)
50D: Hop aboard? (OLLIE) - referring to the skateboarding trick.
And in case you're wondering, the UNO country in Africa where español is an official language is Equatorial Guinea.
Wednesday, July 19, 2023
Spotlight on this new variety of clue: I see in our glossary that we've taken to calling them "false imperative clues," or FIC, for short. And you can see why. It seems like you're being told to do something, but really, it's just a straight definition of the answer.
For example, 17A: Deal with it! (DECKOFCARDS) - seems like you're being exhorted to figure out how to accept the facts, but instead it's the answer to the question, "What should I do with this thing with 52 rectangular pieces of cardboard with funny shapes and pictures printed on one side?"
You know. That question we've all asked at one point or another in our lives.
All four theme answers take the same form of [imperative][with it][!]. I love 43A: Get on with it! (BOARDINGPASS). "Um, miss? What am I supposed to do with this slip of paper, now that I'm standing next to this large multi-vehicled mode of transportation?" The whole concept is delightfully absurd.
Perhaps these answers are loaded with a touch of SARCASM...
Nice callback to yesterday's puzzle at 1D: Ruler of a mythological underworld (HADES). Can't cross that with Pluto, as it turns out.
Is it possible that 35A: Jennings of "Jeopardy" (KEN) is actually a tie-in with this weekend's blockbuster opening movie? Yes, I'm referring to Oppenheimer. JK.
I love OHWOEISME, and 10D: Creator of a spread (BOOKMAKER) is a fun bit of misleading cluing. I don't love IMEANTHAT (I can't really imagine the circumstances where you'd say it that way. Wouldn't it be "I meant it?") Otherwise, it's a fun puzzle, setting us up for the Turn!
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
In order to make the grid work, it's been enlarged to 16 x 15 squares, which explains the lack of a middle down column. Also, the crossing answers in each corner limit the flexibility of placing answers around them, and so the constructors have used barriers of black squares to separate the corners from the center, making a segmented grid. But I found the solve remarkably smooth for all of that, and I finished in a typical time for a Tuesday puzzle, so very well done!
Monday, July 17, 2023
Good morning, and welcome to the new week. Back at work, and it's a bright sunny morning, so things are both up and down.
Today's puzzle is a classic phonetic revealer, at 58A: Query of concern ... or a phonetic hint to two pairs of letters appearing in 17-, 24-, 37- and 48-Across (AREYOUOKAY). At first I didn't read the revealer clue carefully, and thought the trick was only that each clue had the letters OK in them. But they also have the letters RU, and always in the correct order. That's cute.
All four theme answers are strong. I might use "running gag" more frequently than RUNNINGJOKE, but both are perfectly cromulent. Also, "instruction manual" is a little more likely than INSTRUCTIONBOOK, but again, I think I'd use either pretty much equally. I don't take a RUMANDCOKE. In fact, I'm not that likely to take either part individually either.
I found my fingers clumsy and my mind jumping to the wrong answers frequently this Monday morning. I started right at 1A with "diaper" for ONESIE. You know. Diapers. The things with snaps. OKRA put me right immediately. Also, 10D: Lacks what it takes (CANNOT) was hasNOT for a hot second. I mean, literally, if you lack the thing you need, you have it not. But still.
And there is no such thing as a TARTe. Outside of France and tartes tatins.
ULTIMATE is a game I no longer have the knees to play. But I still love hucking a disk.
My only complaint with today's puzzle is the word BORESOME. I've never imagined that this was a word, although from parallel sounding lonesome, I could have possibly predicted it. Ah well, they can't all be zingers.
Sunday, July 16, 2023
THE GAME IS AFOOT
Hey everyone! It feels like years since I last blogged (it was a month). Thanks to Philbo for his excellent blogging this past week.
I’m having a relaxing weekend at our friends’ lake house in the Catskills, at Lake Wanaksink. I love that name. It is amusing that the K is silent. In any case, this morning’s puzzle was equally relaxing, as opposed to yesterday’s challenge!
The theme is finding different ways to interpret the names for varieties of footwear, with clever puns and wacky clues. Here is my ranking of the theme answers:
1. 23A: Fresh pair of loafers? (BEAVISANDBUTTHEAD). What a great way to start the puzzle!
2. 46A: Slip before putting on a boot? (PARKINGTICKET) - so clever!
3. 95A: Custom fitted pumps? (ARTIFICIALHEARTS) - so true.
4. 112A: 1970s-era sneakers? (WATERGATEBURGLARS). Reminds me of the movie “Sneakers,” an old favorite.
5. 67A: Noted name in clogs? (LIQUIDPLUMR). A little ding for the brand name.
6. 38A: Forerunners of flip-flops? (CAMPAIGNPROMISES) - don’t remind me.
7. 83A: Collectors of moccasins? (SNAKEHANDLERS). Somebody has to come in last.
A couple of C/APs I liked: 17D: Networker? (GOALIE) - just finished the last season of Ted Lasso. Perhaps the constructor was thinking of ice hockey, but I thought of soccer. 106A: What a doll! (KEN). The Barbie movie is coming out soon, too.
EAGLE reminds me that Hope always texts me when she’s traveling somewhere to let me know that “the Eagle has landed.” And finally, Wilford BRIMLEY was a favorite of Horace’s brother, so let’s raise a glass to the mustached scene-chewer.
Saturday, July 15, 2023
Happy weekend everybody! Rounding out my blogging week is a fun, tricky puzzle with a neat, bilaterally symmetric grid, whose layout reminds me of Space Invaders. Juicy long entries abound in both directions. A little pinch point midway down turns it into almost two separate solves.
I was fortunate to hit a "gimme" early on in the top middle section, as I know who quantum physicist Wolfgang PAULI was. His Exclusion Principle is essentially what makes matter what it is. (Why doesn't my coffee cup just fall through my desk? The Pauli Exclusion Principle, is why) That didn't immediately pay off, though, and a few erroneous guesses (e.g. "Unimportant workers, metaphorically" = COGS not BEES, and "Natural jewelry material" = CORAL not PEARL) led to some backtracking. But "Words after grace, perhaps" (LETSEAT) opened up the middle section. A couple of other Across entries of note, midway down: "Item that can be described by changing its last letter to a P" - an unguessable 5-letter answer that needs its crossers to reveal itself (SHARD) - I like those! and the very next clue "Many a Mauritanian" (ARAB) provides one of those welcome "well, I did not know that!" moments.
Looking back and trying to remember how my progress continued, I'm a bit hazy (did it 12 hrs ago). French pastry MILLE-feuille was easy, as was "Hustler" (CONMAN) and "Headliner" (MAINEVENT). Many others in the lower section were not obvious at all. "'Would you look at the time!'" was IBETTERGO, not ITSSOLATE as I originally thought. "Title abroad" was SAO, not SRI. "Question that suggests 'That's crazy!'" was WHA, not HOW. This is all good misleading stuff!! Eventually, with enough of this hunting and pecking, the longer answers revealed themselves and it all fell into place.
Favourites were the silly groaner "What might be said by successful bettors...or sesame seeds?" (WEREONAROLL); and the other physics-y answer MESON, which is one of the many particles spewed out by an accelerator; and "English class largely unconcerned with the English?" (AMERICANLIT), which was amusing but a bit foreign to us folks north of the border.
Overall a really entertaining puzzle - thanks, Mr. Chen! And thank you all for having me for the week - tomorrow you're back in Colum's capable hands. A la prochaine!
Thursday, July 13, 2023
A tasty little gem of a themeless puzzle today from first-timer Mr. Kaufman, with just the right amount of gristle for a Friday. I feel it is a sign of quality when one first scans the clues, that not many jump out as obvious but they're not completely opaque either. "It could be this, or it could be that", sort of thing. Case in point - the very first clue - "Praises loudly" - could plausibly have been LAUDS. And the next - "Drops" - FALLS maybe? (No - HAILS and OMITS, respectively). Moving on - "Becomes uncomfortable, in a way, as underwear": BUNCHES? (RIDESUP) I wasn't sure about anything until the two paired short answers ORA and ERA, and then the dominos began to fall, leading into a chunky double/intersecting pair of stacks-of-three (impressive construction!). "They're full of pop" (SODAFOUNTAINS) was cleverly misleading. I also liked "'Surely that can't be possible?!'" (WHATINTHEHECK) because at that point, I had already encountered "'Well, I'll be darned!'" (GOSH) and smiled at the G-rated similarity.
I didn't really have a systematic progression through this one, as I quite often do. It was more a hunt-and-peck exercise and the whole grid just sort of came into focus. I also view this as a sign of quality! Along the way, "What might make one less likely to flip one's lid"' revealed itself to be STYE and I only just now twigged as to why. (I was STYMIED, as it were.) I'd never heard of the poet ESSEX Hemphill, possibly because I'm not American but more likely because I am quite troglodytic in many ways. I was sure "Breeze (through)" was SKATE, with the T already in place, and had to backtrack to get the correct WALTZ in there instead. XACTO ("Brand of cutting-edge equipment") was my LOI, somewhat embarrassingly - it seems so obvious now!
Oh and geez - I almost forgot to mention the very last Across clue - "Winners of 13 Stanley Cups, familiarly" - the LEAFS, as any Torontonian (in fact, any Canadian) knows; a just-as-well-known fact is that their last Cup win was in 1967, when I was a three-year-old.
Had the whole thing done in about 6:30 and spent 40 more seconds hunting down my one typo (EEA, not TEA, for "Green _____"). I don't count mistakes like these as FWOI's as I wouldn't make them with pen and paper. But they sure do play havoc with my solve times!
That's all for now!
Wednesday, July 12, 2023
NEWSFLASH : Mr. Huynh absolutely crushes his NYT crossword debut, with a highly entertaining offering featuring one of the most inventive uses of the rebus I've ever seen! As I worked through the grid, it was apparent that there was going to be some sort of rebus action, as several of the Down clues seemed to lead to answers that wouldn't fit in the grid; e.g. 6D: "Actress MacDowell", which has to be ANDIE but there are only three squares to put it into. Wherever there was this sort of uncertainty, I just left the area blank and motored on. The time came when there was little else to fill in, and by then it was apparent what was going on. The four long Across clues begin or end in repeated rebuses, which doesn't make sense at first, until you read them differently, and the penny drops:
16A : "1995 Coolio song in 'Dangerous Minds'" : GANGSTAS[DIE][DIE] --> GANGSTA'S PAIR O' DICE --> GANGSTA'S PARADISE. Extra marks for the use of DICE as the plural of DIE, without it actually appearing in the answer!
23A : "'This statement is false', for one" : LOGICAL[DOC][DOC] --> LOGICAL PARADOX. I especially liked this one because, like 16A, the answer isn't a plural.
46A : "'The Good Samaritan' and 'The Prodigal Son', for example" : [BULL][BULL]OFJESUS --> PARABLES OF JESUS. Punny!
57A : "Effecting fundamental changes to perceptions" : SHIFTING[DIME][DIME] --> SHIFTING PARADIGMS. This one was my first in, and led quickly to all the others.
Part of the cleverness, of course, was finding crossing answers in which to hide the rebuses. The DIMEs are hidden in RUDIMENT and SEDIMENT, side by side - very cheeky to have such similar words alongside each other!
The grid as a whole was rock solid, with interesting tidbits; e.g. I did not know that squid was part of an ORCA's diet, or that the William Tell Overture is in the key of EMAJ. Aside from the theme, my fave was 36A : "Like Canadian provinces vis-a-vis U.S. states" , which gave me pause as a Canadian. NICER maybe? Surely not in a NYT xword. (It's FEWER, which is undeniably, uncontroversially true)
Crosswords like this are really what keep me coming back. Take a bow, Mr. Huynh!!!
Tuesday, July 11, 2023
A somewhat sparse theme in today's puzzle. Distributed symmetrically in the grid are seven clues, separately numbered from 1st to 7th of 7; e.g. the very first clue 1A: "About 85%-90% of Muslims, globally [1st of 7]". So it's a septet of something obviously, and when 1A was quickly revealed as SUNNI, it was apparent immediately - the days of the week! Sure enough, the other six theme answers all begin, in proper order, with the remaining days' three-letter abbreviations.
I have to admit, I did not love this one. Didn't seem that tall an order for a Wednesday, to construct seven entries constrained only by their first three letters (MON, TUE, etc.). But maybe that's just me, sitting here in my armchair :) I did appreciate the symmetry in the grid, and welcomed the write-in for this native Quebecker - TUESBELLE ("French for 'You are beautiful' [3rd of 7]")! "Digital confrontations [5th of 7]" (THUMBWARS) was very clever.
And in another bit of cleverness, elsewhere in the grid we have "About 10%-15% of Muslims, globally" (SHIA) - nicely connected with 1A.
Personal anecdote alert - inspired by "Rocky Mountain National Park sight" (ELK): I had a job one summer as a teenager in Jasper, Alberta, and the walk (well, the shortcut) from work to where I was staying was across a train yard, down an embankment, across the Trans Canada Highway and through a stand of pine trees. I was making this trip one pitch-black, moonless night, in the midst of the pine grove, when I suddenly felt a presence around me, so I stopped walking, started to pay attention and let my eyes adjust to the darkness - and lo! I was standing in the middle of a herd of elk, who were entirely unperturbed by my presence. It was a magical moment in my life.
I find myself with not much else to say about the puzzle. Can't love 'em all, I suppose. Oh well. A demain mes amis!
Monday, July 10, 2023
Maybe it's just me, but I have a soft spot for puns, and so I was delighted to see all the clues in today's puzzle that consisted of questions with partial responses...begging for punny completions! And so it was. The theme could be said to be an understocked magazine stand - each theme clue a request for a certain type of magazine, followed by an "Apologies, but..." type response. (Reminded me of Monty Python's cheese shop skit!) It's up to you the solver to complete the response, which contains the name of a magazine of the type referred to in the question. Clever, in a gentle sort of way! To wit:
"Got any news magazines? Sorry, we're STRAPPEDFORTIME"
"Got any fitness magazines? Sadly, we're OUTOFSHAPE"
"Got any showbiz magazines? Regrettably, we're LACKING VARIETY" (this one's split across two answers)
"Got any LGBTQ magazines? Unfortunately, we're MISSINGOUT"
"Got any celebrity magazines? Alas, we're SHORTAFEWPEOPLE"
It was fun to try and guess these as I progressed through the grid, before too many crossers had been entered. I got two of the five right off the bat, which helped things along. (Of course, this compels me to try to come up with one of my own.... hmm "Got any architecture magazines? Sorry to say, we've run OUTOFHOUSEANDHOME" .. maybe I should leave this to the pros?)
Other amusing fodder : "Run just for the exposure?" (STREAK) was smile-worthy, as was "Hex nut?" (WITCH). I do love a good QMC! I didn't know Amazon Handmade was a thing! Not my thing, but a thing anyway.
Unfortunately, I got into a terrible tangle in the middle, entering FINAL instead of FETAL for 25D "____ position", which I had to stare at for a while, trying to reconcile that with 30A "Doesn't measure up, so to speak", which had to be PALLS, right? (Nope: PALES) Eventually, reason prevailed and I wrapped up in 4:26, a bit slow for me on a Tuesday. Oh! and also I initially put in MOLE instead of WEED for 10A "'Whacker' target". Anybody else do that?
ARE we done here? Yes we are! "See" y'all tomorrow!
Sunday, July 9, 2023
Instead of doing something to the POOCH, I thought I'd get right down to today's review - to RELEASE THE HOUNDS, as it were. Today's puzzle is all about where idiom meets the animal world. The fauna-related theme phrases have entered the general vernacular and, in some cases, the animal references have become quite oblique, or aren't really animal references at all.
POKETHEBEAR - "Antagonize a powerful figure" - this one is fairly direct and self-explanatory; here, I associate "bear" with Stalin-era USSR.
JUMPTHESHARK - "Become absurdly outlandish, as a TV show" - the most literal of all the theme answers, as anybody who ever watched Happy Days knows.
SHOOTTHEBULL - "Chat idly" - has nothing to do with bovines but rather, if the Interweb is trustworthy, to do with whiling away the time playing darts.
FLIPTHEBIRD - "Gesture rudely, in a way" - this one I'm not sure about (anybody?) though it certainly has nothing to do with rotating a fowl about any axis, and the gesture itself dates back many centuries.
So that's a fun lightweight Monday theme! The rest of the grid yielded readily, though I thought just a titch difficult for Monday (this is *not* a complaint). QMCs were in short supply, though I did smile at the Snoopy reference, his alter ego (one of them, that is) being JOECOOL.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and FEED THE KITTY, by which I mean my cat is hungry and is meowing by his food bowl. Ta ta for today!
LEGALREPRESENTATION - a drawing ("representation") of a gavel beside a set of scales
SPITTINGIMAGE - an image of a person mid-expectoration
Saturday, July 8, 2023
Friday, July 7, 2023
A fun Friday puzzle is always a good way to start off the weekend. And yes, I'm calling it the weekend even though I still have a full day of work to get through. Why not? Things are what you make of them, are they not?
The fun started immediately at 1-Across with TRASHPANDA (Humorous nickname for a raccoon), and falling just below that are WERESODEAD ("Uh-oh, our parents will kill us!") and IWASNTDONE ("You interrupted me ..."). A solid stack of tens if I ever saw one. It kind of locked in DANE (2022 Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard, for one) (Timely!) and ADEN (Port city that's an anagram of 9-Down), but the clues for both were lively.
RIDEORDIE (One who's loyal to a fault) was very tricky for this solver, as was EIDMUBARAK (Festive Islamic greeting) ("blessed feast/festival"), but they were helped by fun crosses like GOO (Infant's interjection) (Ha!), and REFS (Play checkers, informally). I spent waaaayyyy too much time thinking about the game of checkers before realizing that they were talking about referees. Sheesh!
So, all in all, interesting entries, fun clues, wide open corners... perfect Friday.
Thursday, July 6, 2023
It's all about the Benjamins! Or baseball. Depends, I guess, on how you look at it.
The first revealer, TAKEMEOUT (Request regarding "the ball game" ... or instructions for answering the starred clues) makes it possible to answer clues like "*Response to a knock on the door" with COIN, because you have taken "me" out of "come in." The second revealer, MAKEMONEY (Earn ... or what answering the starred clues will do in each case) means that each resulting, me-less answer is a kind of money. COIN, WON (South Korean currency), YEN, CENT. The set is a little loose, but it's understandable.
I liked how the first two answers start with the same three letters: SUET (Christmas pudding ingredient) (Gross. I wanted "plum" here); and SUEDE (It's from the underside of a hide). And there's some nice trivia in PIETA (Michelangelo's only signed work) and ROME (City where the 41-Across was commissioned). Apparently, someone claimed it was by another artist, so Michelangelo signed it immediately, right on the sash that runs across Mary's chest. He later regretted this decision, and vowed never to sign anything else. Ahhh, artists ... so rash.
And speaking of artists, ATELIER (Artist's studio) is a good word. Comes from the word for "splinter." I guess it started as a term for a wood shop.
Lots of good long fill: TIMELINE (Where a dot may be a date), UNFORSEEN (Not expected), BRAINWAVE (Head line?), ENUNCIATE (Say it all), and GOFLYAKITE ("Get lost!"). I love that expression. And you know what? I should. Kite flying can be kind of a meditative experience. But, of course, it can also be a pain in the neck, when everyone else decides to go in the water and you have to roll in 500 feet of string before you can go too. Sigh.
Lastly - show of hands. How many tried dropping in "apse" when they saw 52D: Recess. I did. But no. It was the less-seen, but much more exciting NOOK.
One more review from this DLISTer tomorrow, and then Frannie comes back to finish off the week.
Fun puzzle, and a strong debut for Ms. Perch.
Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Good morning! Horace here, filling in for Frannie who is busy extracting herself from her job.
Today's theme is an exercise in recognizing foreign script. For once, I am not going to try to figure out how to get Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, or Greek to render properly in the review. Instead, I will just explain that five clues used script from those alphabets, and the corresponding answers each contained the name of the alphabet and another word. RUSSIANDOLL, ARABICNUMERALS, ... that sort of thing.
ABRA (Introduction to magic?) was a cute one. And in my last Latin class (a year ago) we read Ovid's version of Pyramus and THISBE, so that was fun. They are (spoiler alert!) a little like Romeo and Juliet. Lots of blood...
Anywayyy... speaking of Latin, I always enjoy seeing ECCE ("Look!," to Lucretius) in the grid. And how about that clue for ELDER (Like one of two Roman Plinys). LORDY! And Hey, none of the languages in the theme are at all related to Latin. Two aren't even Indo-European!
Also, EARN doesn't necessarily mean "Rake in." I should know! Heh. But on the other hand, I very much enjoyed the clue for HAIKU ("What Richard Wright wrote" could be the first line of one). Doesn't it just make you want to finish it?
What Richard Wright wrote:
forgotten over the years
like this morning breeze
Now you try one!
I enjoyed the textual trick today. There were a few OLDEN answers like AGLET, ALIT, and ULNAS, but nothing too ACH-worthy.
Tuesday, July 4, 2023
Monday, July 3, 2023
Sunday, July 2, 2023
ABOUT TWO FEET
It's been an odd week, selon moi, and it continues today with this puzzle that reminds me of the floor in front of my closet, where can be found on any given day several pairs of shoes placed randomly. Heel, boot, clog, and flat, all doubled, because shoes are sold in pairs. Well, I guess if it were to more accurately represent my floor, it would have been loafer, loafer, lace-up, sneaker, but it's not always about me. Or so I have been told.
Anywhoo, the shoes are side-by-side in the Across answers, but read as one in the Downs. Why is this? Probably because it would be next to impossible to fill the puzzle if they were doubled in both directions. But either way, they're BIGSHOESTOFILL.
So, THEELEPHANTMAN (1980 film that led to the creation of the Academy Award for Best Makeup), a traumatic experience from my childhood, has been softened in my mind lately by David Dawson's hilarious portrayal of Joseph Merrick in The Year of the RABBIT. If you haven't watched it yet, I recommend it. Matthew Berry has made some very funny television shows.
Also, I got up at about 5am this morning, so NAPTIME might not just be an "Important part of a toddler's day." Heh.
"Break after a major fall?" (SNOWDAY) was clever, and "Angles above 90 degrees?" (HOTYOGA) was cute. And even though I work just down the street, I didn't know that MIT's mascot was named TIM (Collegiate beaver mascot whose name is its school spelled backward). I had "cloCk" in place for "What always has time on its hands" but TIM helped me switch it to WATCH.
Frannie takes over tomorrow, but I might be back mid-week because she is finishing up some things at work and might need all the time she can get. So DER will be a couple KNEE-slapping days, then it's back to LESS GUT-busting. BUTWHY? I can almost year you YELLAT me... but what ELSA can I DOE?
Saturday, July 1, 2023
As sometimes happens, this week Saturday and Friday were reversed. A least for this solver. This took me less than half the time.
I suppose it all depends, but answers like ICE (Rocks), GIL (Poet Scot-Heron), TOOLS (Saw and punch), ETA (GPS guess), RINGIN (Celebrate, as a new year), DEALER (One holding all the cards), went in without a moment's thought. And with so many crosses, the long answers were easier to guess. (Gee, Horace, is that how crosswords work?)
And speaking of the long answers, they were enjoyable, but not all that challenging. Especially at the bottom. With just the first three letters in place, all three went right in:
BATSANEYELASH (Flinches, but only a little)
ENIGMATOLOGY (Study of riddles) (A field Will Shortz invented for his own major at Indiana University) (See also: "What one star may represent" (EASY) ... Oh ZSNAP!)
DOCTORSNOTE (Absence excuser)
None of it was bad or unpleasant, it just played more like a themeless Wednesday than a Saturday.
But as always, there were some clues that brought a smile:
"German food that's better than it sounds?" (WURST)
"Certain surprise party?" (AMBUSH)
"Outer ear?" (HUSK)
and some that contained interesting trivia:
"Popular pet originally from Mongolia" (GERBIL)
"'George,' in aviation slang" (AUTOPILOT)
and, I guess, "They're offered seven times a year" (SATS)
It was good, but over quickly. But hey, now I have time to walk over to the bakery for one of those cheese and pepper scones!
A demain, mes amis.