Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Wednesday, 1 November 2023, Steve Weyer

It is the aftermath of Hallowe'en here in Toronto. The jack-o-lanterns are extinguished, the streets are quiet, and the neighbourhood houses are full of hyper, overstimulated (and over-sugared) little children.  I sit here with my little personal stash of mini chocolate bars and turn my attention to Wednesday's crossword, which was fun and clever and "meta" and a little bit silly - just my cup of tea for a mid-week diversion!   It's an anagrammatic theme today, with four long, oddly-worded clues, whose solutions turn out to be concatenations of the same five letters, arranged three different ways!  Better I just lay it out than try to describe it:

  • "Actor Sean does some things that aren't nice" : ASTINISNTASAINT
  • "Silent film star Bara didn't want to leave us" : THEDAHATEDDEATH (bit of a reach, this one)
  • "Artist Edouard mistakenly proposed 11:00" : MANETMEANTTENAM (my favourite!)
  • "Fictional lawyer Perry cries 'I give'!" : PERRYMOANSNOMAS
See?  Clever and fun and silly!  And the icing on the cake is the revealer in the very last Across clue, "1545 treatise..." which is ARSMAGNA, an anagram of the theme!  Meta!  This is the kind of creativity that makes me think, "gee, I should try setting crosswords some day..."

Funny about the Bosch reference (ex-LAPD).  I was watching an episode of Bosch just before writing this blog!  Sometimes I do wonder if we're all in the Matrix.  I liked the thematically linked IBERIA and DESOTO stacked on top of each other.  Good cluing, that. ... on the other hand, one doesn't often see OMS in its plural form (unless one has clued oneself into a corner, ha ha)

Great puzzle!  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.


Monday, October 30, 2023

Tuesday, October 31 2023, Kathy Lowden and Erik Piepenburg

Well, it's All Hallows' Eve and if you've come to today's crossword expecting an appropriate theme, I trust you were not disappointed: six scary, season-appropriate movies appear in the grid, including the eponymous HALLOWEEN, the film I think cemented Jamie Lee Curtis' early-career reign as Scream Queen.  I remember seeing it (the original) as a teenager when it came out.  It was super creepy.  Enumerating the others - I realize I'm not that well rounded in the genre, though I do love a good scary flick:

  • HESOUTTHERE (2018 slasher film set at a lake house) - never saw it!

  • SCREAM (horror franchise with Ghostface) - saw one, maybe two of these.  "Ghostface" was the theme of my son's pumpkin carving efforts this evening!

  • GETOUT (2019 horror film, Best Original Screenplay Oscar) - saw it, liked it

  • DONTLOOKNOW (1973 horror film with Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland) - never saw it

  • YOURENEXT (2011 slasher/comedy set at a family reunion) - never saw it
Clearly I've got some catching up to do!  Also in the grid is OMENS ("Warning signs").  I did see "The Omen" and its sequel "Damien: Omen II" back in the day and they were excellent.  Wonder how (or if) they've stood the test of time, though.  

I smiled at the intersecting BALMS ("Soothing applications") and ALOE ("Hand sanitizer ingredient"), largely because I entered ALOES first, which cost me some time ... Oh hello, AMAH ("Asian nursemaid"), you old chestnut!  Where've you been? ... It has always been intriguing to me that a MINORTHIRD conveys sadness.  Why would that be, physiologically?  I know the intervals on a diatonic scale lend themselves to nice simple fractional pitch ratios, or nearabouts. But why would the minor third interval (6:5) be interpreted as sad, but a major third interval (5:4) be not-sad?  It's not a cultural thing, is it?  Can any among you multitudinous readers weigh in on this?  

Anyway.  Happy Hallowe'en everybody - hope your kids have a fun safe time, and nobody TP's your house 😃


Monday, October 30 2023, Kenneth Cortes

Happy Monday all!  Circumstances dictated that I do today's crossword at my desk at work, with a colleague looking over my shoulder, which slowed me down considerably.  And those same circumstances constrain me to keep this review short, so let's get to it!    Okay.  At first I thought there was something wrong with my browser today, as just about the entire grid was greyed out, as though the whole thing had been "selected" or something.  But no - turns out it's part of the theme - three clues have the word IDEA buried in them, with the revealer ("Stroke of genius...") being BRIGHTIDEA - and those embedded IDEAs are the only non-greyed squares so they stand out, in a BRIGHT sort of way.   Each theme answer is multi-word, with its IDEA spanning two words, which is cleverer than having it being part of a single larger word, which would have been NONIDEAL (heh heh).    Two IDEAs are split between the E and A, and one in the middle.  Posing the question - can you think of a phrase where it's split between the I and D?  I cannot.  (SEMI DEAR?)

Notables along the way ... I entered COCOA instead of MOCHA for 5A "Chocolaty coffee drink" - that'll teach me to not read the entire clue... I'd never heard that telling a ladybug's AGE by its spots was a thing.  Live and learn!  I lived in a MANSE ("Cleric's house") once upon a time, so that one was easy. 

Not much else to report.  Gentle Monday puzzle and now I have a colleague who's seen me in crosswording action!

Ta ta till Tues


Sunday, October 29, 2023

Sunday, October 29 2023, Alina Abidi

Hi all!  Philbo here, kicking off another fun week of blogging.  Just back from a weekend of RnR in the country with my wife + sis + bro-in-law and, as is generally the case after our get-togethers, I'm not firing on all cylinders at the moment.  However!  Soldier on!   Today's theme is "Fabric-ations" and it didn't take long to figure out what that meant.  Going through the grid, four adjacent pairs of clues end in the same parenthesized word; for example 38A "Washington post (SATEEN)" and 40A "Thumbs-up (SATEEN)".  Thanks to fairly gentle crossers, the answers were quickly apparent : SENATE SEAT (clever!) and ASSENT.  Both answers can be created from the letters in SATEEN - or, as indicated by the revealer clue ( "Having similar qualities..."), CUTFROMTHESAMECLOTH, as it were.  Fortunately, as an avid cryptic crossword solver, I am familiar with this device, which is sometimes referred to as a "word factory", and consequently none of the theme pairs posed much of a challenge.   I took the time to check and yes, each paired answer does require all of the letters in its "factory" word, once repeated letters have been taken into account.

Interesting/amusing tidbits along the way ... I looked up the HODGE conjecture, one of math's Millennium Prize Problems, and backed away quickly.  Topology isn't really my thing, though I do like my quasiparticles, like a good PLASMON...  a "huh" moment, learning that Auto-Tune was popularized by TPAIN.  Not an Auto-Tune fan.  They're called "singing lessons,", folks!  (Lord, I'm curmudgeonly today!)  ... CHILE is 2,600+ miles (that's around 4,200 km) long, we learn.  It occurs to me that it's one of the few countries one would use the word "long" to describe.  

Upshot - I enjoyed this puzzle but I didn't find it super challenging - which lines up very nicely with my state of mind today :)  And on that note, I shall SAYNOMORE.  "See" you tomorrow!


Saturday, October 28, 2023

Saturday, October 28, 2023, Ryan McCarty

Greetings, dear Reader (heh). Frannie here to comment on the final puzzle of the week. I am late to the keyboard again today because A. I couldn't finish the puzzle on first attempt, and IIc. I had to go shopping with Horace for his Halloween costume. After that refreshing sortie and a delicious lunch, I looked at the puzzle again and was able to complete the remaining empty squares. Too bad they don't allow that type of thing during the ACPT. I would slay! Kidding, of course. I am never going to slay at the ACPT. But, except for Puzzle 5, it's still fun. Well, Puzzle 5 is ABIT fun when it's over and you can rehash it with other survivors. I digress. A discussion of my relative capabilities at the ACPT is almost certainly not why you called me here.

Anyhoo, despite/because of the initial setbacks (described in more detail below), I enjoyed the challenge of today's puzzle, especially after yesterday's relatively easy Friday. Today's C/APs run the gamut from amusing to arcane. "Head covering?" (TOILETSEAT) was funny. SAMTHESHAM ("Singer on the 1960s hits 'Wooly Bully' and 'Li'l Red Riding Hood'") is an oldie that is new to me. "Had kids on a farm?" (LAMBED) might be a little of both. :)


Back to the trouble spots. The toughest corners for me were the southwest and the northeast. In the southwest, I was duped by "Himalayan resting place." It took me forever to think of the cat breed instead of the mountain range. Also, although I've watched and enjoyed the comic stylings of ARI Eldjárn, I couldn't remember his first name. Derp. The short and pluralized form of TREXES for the amusing "-saur subjects?" also took me a while to figure out. 

My biggest area da crapo, however, was the northeast. I didn't easily guess - but particularly liked MOBSCENE ("Complete pandemonium"). I did guess LOAN for "Word like 'cafe' or bazaar,'" but my confidence in it was low. Also, I'm not sure what strings a RAINHAT has, beyond maybe a way to tie it on? Maybe I should Google it. I realized I had heard of an FMRI ("Scan in neuroscience research, in brief") as soon as the answer appeared thanks to the Downs. EDIFY!

Other entries of interest include "First base?" (STARTERHOME), "Cut corners, perhaps?" (MITERED), "They signal a delivery" (LABORPAINS), and "Nonsensical movement" (DADA). 

LANDUP as a way to say "Ultimately arrive (at)" sounded odd to this solver, but that was the only odd duck in a pond of long-necked swans like TWITTERRANT, CHOKEARTIST, TIRELESSLY, and FOISTED

If I could press the BACKBUTTON and do this week all over again, I wouldn't. I know you will be in better hands with Philbo next week. Until next time, dear Readers.


Friday, October 27, 2023

Friday, October 27, 2023, Adrian Johnson

Today's puzzle was a little on the EASEL side for a Friday, at least for this solver (16:13). I actually stopped myself from entering WINE at 47A (Barossa Valley export) because it seemed too straightforward. OTH, I didn't know what Bibimbap and tamago kake gohan were until the crosses spelled it out for me (RICEBOWLS). Even, "Devils and Angels, e.g." was easy enough because, though I don't know either team per se, I knew they must be TEAMS of one kind or another. 

The ease of the solve was surprising for another reason. One category of clue that I often have trouble with is the "quote" clue, and this puzzle featured a few, for instance, "Alas, it is so" and "There's a lot more to this than you think." ITSNOTEASY to know what the "equivalent" expressions are meant to be. That was also the case today, but fortunate crosses took the usual guess work out of it for me.

22A: RTE

A few C/APs did require a bit of TOIL. At 54A, 'kingbeds' fit ("Features of many hotel rooms"), but it was MINIBARS that hit the spot. Another nice trixy one was "Heart," which could be so many things, but turned out to be MEAT. Maybe this one could even be considered a two-fer? :) Similarly, in re: clue ambiguity, we have "Jaw" for CHAT. Another slightly tricky one was SCARS for "Results of cuts, maybe?" I was entertained by some of the QMCs, like "Took on a pet project?" (CATSAT) and "Lightened up?" (PALED) - ha. 

Everyone likes an ROI. Today's top two for this solver were "Garter and stockinette, in knitting" (STITCHES) plus the interesting fact that the word KENO comes from the French - Qui savait? Pas moi. Top that off with some fun fill like SOBERUP, ASCEND, LIVEWIRE, and NIHILIST and you have a puzzle that would SUIT anyone. 


Thursday, October 26, 2023

Thursday, October 26, 2023, John Donegan

Here, finally, are my centcent about today's puzzle. First off, it was a fun and trixy theme. Theme answers included phrases or titles with numbers in them and instead of the number and plural, the key noun appeared the appropriate number of times. So, for example, PLACEPLACEAT was clued as "What it's impossible to be in" or two places. Another nice one was BIRDBIRDSTONE (two birds with one stone) -"What a multitasker might kill." You might even call it NEWMATH. I caught on to the theme with MANMANMANBABY (Three Men and a Baby) because I remembered that movie, having seen the original (?) when I lived in France. It was early days in my life overseas at that point and watching a movie in French with no subtitles was big. Anyhoo, that's not why you called me here. Truth be told, you didn't call me here at all. Duty did. 


In addition to the actual theme, there seems to be an running ghoul of having some Halloween answers in every puzzle this week. Today we have EYEBALL, CANDY, and the amusingly clued "Spirit-filled?" (HAUNTED). 

Other fun ones included, "Off the hook, so to speak" (INSANE), "Sunny side of breakfast" (YOLK), "Narrow" for TAPER, "City of Paris?" (Troy) - ha!, and the entertaining, "Bottoms out?" (MOONS). Oh yes, and "Maker of small front-end loaders" (TONKA) - cute! I'd include a picture of a Tonka front loader as a decorative element, but I'm getting a message that Wikimedia is down at the moment. Troubling! 

I'll try to get UPANDATEM a bit earlier tomorrow, dear Readers. That's it for nightnight.


Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Wednesday, October 25, 2023, Aimee Lucido

DRUMROLL please - a request taken literally in today's puzzle. Four groups of circled letters are made up of the letters D R U M, in a circle formation - in each case a different one of the letters is at the top, which is neat. The names of three famous drummers contribute to the theme material. I was able to snare the answer to "Member of Led Zeppelin" (JOHNBONHAM) thanks to living with Horace all these years. And thanks to my own musical experience, I could provide the fill for "Half of a 1990s-2000s rock duo with six Grammys," MEGWHITE. And, of course, everyone knows RINGOSTARR, who is maybe more cymbal than drummer at this point. 

The drummers and the circled letters weren't the only kicks in this puzzle. There was a whole kit of quality C/APs in the grid. Some hi-hats include:
"John Wayne and Ian Fleming, for two" (AIRPORTS)
"Boring person" (DRIP)
"Hearty draft pick" (STOUT)
"Ballpark fare served with raspberries?" (JEERING) - heh.
"Number one focus?" EGOTISM
"Gave prompt attention to?" CUED - ha!


There were a couple of minor brushes with for this solver ("Scandal, to a career, say" (UNDOER) and "Materialize" (COMETRUE)), but you can't beat the excellent cluing and entertaining fill like DOUR, WHITTLE, RUTABAGA, GUSSY, and BYGUM that this puzzle brings to the tabla. 


Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Tuesday, October 24, 2023, Daniel Grinberg

Today's theme answers reveal how various monsters might get themselves out of nightmare relationships - or maybe in their case, non-nightmare relationships? Not sure which way they'd go on that one. The theme is timely and the answers are amusing and monster-specifically apt - apt! For example, when the werewolf wants to switch things up, he says, TIMEFORACHANGE. Frankenstein's monster gives out that THESPARKISGONE. And the mummy, rather than ghosting his erstwhile partner, offers a direct, LETSWRAPTHISUP. My favorite one was the vampire's YOURENOTMYTYPE - you have to admit that doesn't suck! - however, I'm afraid to say that an error on my part of entering OATs at 2D ("Like a course for a horse?") haunted me to the end. The incorrect 's' from OATs combined with the pattern of letters from other Down answers gave me (as I thought) sOrRyNOTMYTYPE and doomed to me a long struggle until I cleared the cobwebs and re-read the clue more carefully. A faster solution to the above was cleverly disguised by nearby clue, "Specification on a park pass" (DAYUSE - is that opposed to a night use pass? Or something else? I've never heard the term). Also, insufficient attention paid to the format of the clue at 5D: "State capital north of Sacramento, CA" combined with a mere whisper of knowledge of state capitals, and only a stab at SAM Raimi as the director of "Spider-Man" contrived to make the northwest corner way more trick than treat for this solver. 

A couple of C/APs that I thought dressed up this puzzle were "One whose taste buds may not crave Buds" (BEERSNOB), "Turning point?" (KNOB), and "William Howard in the White House" (TAFT). I also enjoyed the nice pair of parallel answers (once I figured them out) OATY and OAKY in the top west and east, and the fun mini Hawaii theme with OAHU, TARO, and UKES.


Fill-wise, we got a lot of unusual letters coming out of the woodwork and combining to make NYMPH, CRAFTY, MYRRH, RIOJA, GIZMO, MYSTIC, PHEW, UKES, ZINC, and the craziest of them all, of course, TCHOTCHKES.

Although I didn't hit any other real problem areas, the grid gave me much more toil and trouble than a typical Tuesday. And, even though that one corner spelled trouble, instead of boiling over, I tried to STAYCLASSY. I think, thanks to the magic that is the NYTX, I gruesome today.  


Monday, October 23, 2023

Monday, October 23, 2023, Stella Zawistowski

Today's theme answers march us through the sound track of recording history, with each theme answer containing as its second element a sound recording medium from the decades indicated in square brackets in the clues. We begin the tour with "Listing of disciplinary infractions [1950s to early 1980s] or PERMANENTRECORD (the fashion for which is coming around again), followed by MASKINGTAPE [1970s to early 1990s] (a form with very little magnetism, IMO), to HIGYIELDCD (lots of interest in this one!), and finally, SINGLESTREAMING ("Recycling option that collects paper, plastics and metals together [2010s to present]" (providing a flood of options). I wonder what's next!?!

In addition to the interesting range of sound recording media, the rest of the puzzle presents other fun ranges including SPIRO Agnew to Barack OBAMA, Pablo Picasso's ARTE to "American IDOL," APEMAN to ATOMS, and MARACA to MODEM.


Bonus singles include "Chaotic spectacle" (SCENE), "Way in or out" (DOOR), and "Certain songbirds ... or escapades" (LARKS). This solver also enjoyed the two answers that reference Barry Manilow's hit "Copacabana," LOLA and the COPA, from a song I'm PARTIALTO for nostalgic reasons. B-sides all that, I liked ALOOF, COTES, and NOTCH.


Sunday, October 22, 2023

Sunday, October 22, 2023, Robert Ryan


Once again, the title is perfect. By concentrating on the way the words sound, you have the trick, but you don't really know that until you get one. As in WASHINGTONPOSTURE, which is clued with "Public stance of a member of Congress?" See, you've added "ure" onto something well-known. Another nice one is "Newspaper write-up that's light on criticism?" NOMEANFEATURE. Heh. And maybe the best is "Turn more heads than intended?" (ALLURETOOWELL).

AIDY Bryant

So what did you think of MADCAPS? It seems like "Eccentrics" is a noun and "madcap" is an adjective, but maybe I'm wrong about that. I did like "You can see right through 'em" for SPECS. Because see, they correct your vision... making you able to see right. Heh. And speaking of vision, "It can be a strain on the pupils" was a tricky clue for COURSELOAD. And then there's the classic "What was once yours?" (THINE). Heh. Nice. And "Something a Brazilian is unlikely to wax" (SKI) was also amusing.

Overall, a fun and funny Sunday.

- Horace

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Saturday, October 21, 2023, Kelly Morenus

Love the grid today. Nice and open - wide swaths - and it looks kind of like a button. And a little like the Shazam app logo. And a little like a Ritz cracker. ... okaaaayyyyyy.....


As you've heard me say before, when I see long Across answers (and you most likely do the same), I look at them briefly before working the Downs. Today REININ (Curb, as spending) went right in, and I guessed and entered ECLAT for "Sparkle," then entered ONLY (Sole), PIA (____ mater), and SOYLATTE (Vegan coffee order), all of which made SECONDOPINION (What might be sought before a major decision) obvious, and I could see "shops" at the end of "Stores with fixed costs?" I thought briefly about REtAIlSHOPS having set prices, but REPAIRSHOPS is much better.

The only thing I hitched at while solving was MUSTY (Like many attics). I have never found an attic to be MUSTY. Dusty, sure. But I reserve MUSTY for basements. Since when are attics damp? Doesn't MUSTY imply "damp" to you?

It seems like things got tricky for Ms. Morenus over in the NESTERS, CENTRE, WANNEST section, but I think on balance it was worth it. I count myself among the FINNS, as Mom was 100% Finnish (rakastan sinua äiti), and "Some beach fliers" (KITES) was quite good. 

The bottom stack was great, with (Reprimand to one who spoke too soon) DONTINTERRUPTME, "Nonessential, as spending" (DISCRETIONARY), and the related TAKEMYMONEY ("I HAVE to have this – whatever it costs"). Excellent.

I'm out in Western Mass. today for another wedding. And, you know, I've been hearing people grouse a lot about how the wet summer was going to "rob us" of our fall color. To those people I say, take a ride out Route 2. Stop watching the news and go into the woods. It's as beautiful as ever this year. 

- Horace

Friday, October 20, 2023

Friday, October 20, 2023, Jacob McDermott

Usually in any crossword there will be things I don't know. Often it's current celebrities whose work I haven't seen, or a word needing recondite knowledge. Today, I am surprised to learn that Sharon GLESS, who starred, apparently, in "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill," also played Christine Cagney on Cagney and Lacey. In my defense, I may have only watched the show during its first season, when Cagney was played by Meg Foster. Or maybe I only saw the original movie where Cagney was played by Loretta Swit. Anyway, I didn't know the name GLESS, and I feel that probably I should have. 

Banksy MURAL

The other thing I didn't know today was that there exists a ROAN leather. We all know ROAN as a horse color, and I guess it's easy enough to imagine that they use horsehide for things and that maybe they call it by the type of horse it came from, but I just never heard it before. See also: SAMSA, here it is a "Central Asian savory pastry," not a surname. And while we're on the topic - who knew that the OTTER is related to a wolverine? Not me. 

Why, you may be wondering, am I telling you all these things I don't know? Well... I don't know. Ha!

Quickly now, let's change the subject.

Good Clue/Answer Pairs (C/APs) today include: "It clearly divides people" (PLEXIGLASS), "Some nudes" (BODYDOUBLES) (tricksy!), "Distinction not used in the military" (or most of Europe) (AMPM), and "Oh, the humanities!" (LIBERALARTS) (*eyeroll*). Oooh, and what about "Rocky road ingredient?" I was totally fooled, especially when I had "PEA____" in place. It just had to be peanut something didn't it? No. It did not. It is PEAGRAVEL

The word BENDY (Like an adjustable drinking straw) always brings a smile, and although "Stingy sort" is already in our list of "Favorite Clues," I still smiled as I wrote in BEE. Hah!

The Turn continues on in fine fashion. Happy Friday, All!

- Horace

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Thursday, October 19, 2023, Colin Ernst

Good Morning, Dear Reader, and welcome to The Turn. Our term for the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday puzzles. Devilish tricks often start the turn, and today we have a lovely double-rebus!

MRS Claus

The fun starts right away, but I made the mistake of entering "iTs" at 1-Across for "____ no good," which worked with TURNEDRED (Was visibly embarrassed), but nothing else. Hardly a strong start. A little later on, I tried "hatS" for "Derbies, e.g." but that didn't really work with anything. Then, finally, I think it was DI[ET]S (Food regimens) that finally gave me the idea that we were dealing with a double rebus. With that in mind, I felt sure that CIT[RO]EN (French automaker) and VI[GO]DA (Actor Abe) were correct. And because the theme answers were marked with italics, it was easy to know where to put the rebus letters. So in the end it wasn't as difficult as it might have been, but still, everyone loves a rebus.

Good QMCs included "Critter that grows by leaps and bounds?" (ROO), "Taken into account?" (ONDEPOSIT), and "Religious agreements?" (AMENS). On the other hand we do have a bit of CEN (100 yrs.), DAK (Territory divided into two states: Abbr.), and RAS (Univ. staffers). Overall, though, a rebus forgives a lot of SSN, AND, and ENDO. Double rebuses forgive even more.

But I haven't really even talked about the theme yet! All the rebuses make up a set of [DO][UB][LE][DO][WN] betting terms - "ups the ante," "go for broke," "raises the stakes," and "bet the farm." Boy, it all makes me sad that I've missed my usual poker game for the past several months. Yes, I play poker, but it's very low stakes!

I love this kind of stunt. It reminds me a little of a puzzle by Patrick Blindauer from - sheesh - ten years ago, that I absolutely loved. That worked a little differently, but still - double rebus. Overall, a solid start to the end-of-week fun.

- Horace


Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Wednesday, October 18, 2023, Joseph Gangi

OK, this is pretty cute. Mr. Gangi has performed a magic trick in the grid by pulling a rabbit out of a hat. He's pulled out by his feet, apparently - TIBBAR - while the black squares around him form a sort of rabbit image with ears up. That's my only complaint - that the upside down name doesn't match with the image, but I guess maybe it was thought that putting the word in backwards would delay the surprise? Hmmmm... maybe. Still, it's a fun trick, and the magician's patter makes it even moreso - FORTHEFIRSTTIME, BEAMAZED, ABRACADABRA, ITSMAGIC!


The fill started off well with "Rent in the garment district?" (RIP). Heh. "Hell of a poem?" (INFERNO) was good, "Foosball apparatus" (ROD) was oddly interesting, and "Name seen going down the drain?" (EDDY) was guffaw-worthy.

I thought "Kind of belt" was a bit of a stretch for BIBLE. I mean, sure, there's a Bible Belt, but would they have used that clue for "corn," say? I guess maybe... why not. Oh, who am I to say. It's not like I'm any kind of arbiter. And I suppose it's better than "Not as well" (ILLER). 

Overall, though, a fun puzzle. It's a good way to start hump day, no?

- Horace

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Tuesday, October 17, 2023, Dominic Grillo

So here's a tip - if there's just one number in a puzzle, write it in as a number, not as a rebus. I originally wrote in [three]DPRINTER, but didn't get the congratulations screen until I put in 3DPRINTER (Modern manufacturing device ... or you, when answering 17-, 31-, 39-, and 46-Across?). And if we're getting all picky about things, I didn't "print" any of them. I typed them when I entered:

DOTDOTDOT (S, in Morse code)
DOUBLEDOGDARE (Emphatic challenge)
DINGDONGDITCH (Bell ringer's prank)
DRESSDOWNDAYS (Casual office occasions)

A simple theme well done. My favorite is DOTDOTDOT because it looks good in the grid. 

Inca Trail in PERU

The fill starts strong with KILT (Highland garment outlawed by the Disclothing Act of 1746). Who doesn't like the act of disclothing, am I right? :P And all that disclothing might result in a HEAP (Disorderly pile), if you YEET them across the room. YEET (Throw forcefully, in modern parlance) ... really? How have I missed this one. Did I use it correctly? Does one YEET something? Ahh language.

RENEE (Soprano Fleming) reminds me that I haven't been to the opera lately, and MASERATI (Car whose emblem is a trident) reminds me that someone on the road yesterday told me that McLaren bought VanMoof Cycles. I've got to look that up to see if it's true.

I didn't particularly enjoy ONGOD ("My word is my bond," informally), or DOWNARUN (One behind, in baseball), and nobody wants to think about a NETI pot. Also - MESO (Middle: Prefix) is a little mezzo-mezzo, but it's elevated by being pretty much in the middle of the grid. And I also appreciate the effort of trying to make NEO and PRE a little more interesting by giving them similar clues (Opposite of paleo-, and Opposite of post-). 

Overall, a decent enough Tuesday.

- Horace

Monday, October 16, 2023

Monday, October 16, 2023, Michael Lieberman and Andrea Carla Michaels

Well, I slept for something like ten hours last night, and today everything is rosy. I feel like a million bucks! Bring on the Monday puzzle, BYGUM, and I will ZOOMIN on all the eye candy.

POSH Spice

But listen, is it just me, or when you first heard the name CHANNINGTATUM, did you think it was a woman? What is it about the name Channing that sounds feminine to me? I don't know. And apologies, Mr. Tatum, I doubt that my confusion would be good for your persona as one of the MOVIEBUFFS, along with JASONMOMOA, DWAYNEJOHNSON, and MRT

So who's your favorite? I don't really know much about Mr. Tatum (see above), and I've only seen Mr. Momoa when he did SNL, but he seemed like a good guy. I watched Mr. T as B. A. Baracus all the time when I was younger, and although I know the initials standing for "Bad Attitude" was only a fiction, he still seems like he'd be a handful. Mr. Johnson, of course, is a pretty likable sort. But how does he stay so cut? He'd be in the gym all day, wouldn't he? Ugh. Decisions, decisions...

Umm... so where was I? So much for the ENTREE, now it's on to the fill. Also, not to be "that guy," but when you see "entrée" on a menu in France, it means just what it means, an "entry" to the meal, more like an appetizer, not the "Dinner's main course." Those are the plats. And in Italy, of course, they have the primi and secondi, as if anyone could eat that much. But I digest. Er ... digress.

Oh, and speaking of French, "Derrière" was a nice clue for TUSH. Heh.

Everyone enjoys thinking of Athens and its many rivals, SPARTA among them. (Carthago delenda est!) Maybe if those ancients had been able to work out their differences with a nice game of LASERTAG, war would never have gotten the big start-up push that has made it into everybody's favorite calamity. Ahh, humans. 

Where was I?

For PETES STALK, can't I even write a normal review anymore? NIAaaah, this is what I do now. IMO of an OLE rambler. Yes, but is it ART?

OK. I'll release you. And you, and you. But not you!

- Horace

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Sunday, October 15, 2023, Jeff Chen and Juliana Tringali Golden

Beware the ides of October! Bad decisions will be made. One such, was the idea that Frannie and I had of starting a drive home to Boston from Minnesota yesterday without having any plan for last night. Well, we stopped in at a couple decent-ish hotels only to find them completely booked. Then we paid for a room at a hotel we had never heard of, walked into the room and walked right back out to cancel the transaction. Then after driving for another hour or two, we parked in a hotel parking lot and slept in the car for an hour or so before getting back on the highway. Add in another fifteen minute snooze in a rest area parking lot, a lot of mediocre coffee, several bad food decisions and twenty-two hours, and here we are back in Eastern Massachusetts. There may have been other bad decisions made, too, but I'm too tired to tired to think of them.

George Clinton

As for the puzzle - are we still writing about the puzzle? - I enjoyed the grid art right off the bat. Strangely, one bit of junk food that I didn't eat on the drive was a doughnut! But if I had, it would have been with a GLAZEDEXPRESSION ("I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts ..."). 

So, does anyone actually dip doughnuts into milk, as suggested by the clue "This doughnut would be great dipped in milk!" (OLDFASHIONEDIDEA). Am I crazy? or are old-fashioned donuts great when dipped in coffee? Anyone?

And speaking of old-fashioned, this old dog has a hard time learning new tricks. Our favorite doughnut shop here in town had an oven explosion and never re-opened, and ever since that happened (maybe seven or eight years ago now) I have eaten very few doughnuts. Same with produce. The produce market that I had been going to forever closed during the pandemic, and all I've eaten since then is potato chips. Or am I just thinking of the 45 hours I spent in the car going to Minnesota and back this week? I'm sorry, I OTTERPOP while I'm ahead. Or at least before I get any more behind. 

I'll be back tomorrow, when I hope my brain is working better. 

- Horace

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Saturday, October 14, 2023, Byron Walden

What the...

A Saturday themed puzzle? What has the world come to? Cats and dogs, living together?

Actually, I'm glad for the theme, as I FWOE'd, and I was able to fix it because of the MIDAUGHTS. See, each of the highlighted answers has a synonym for "nothing" hidden in the middle. I had never heard of PANZEROTTI, and 20D: Poetic contraction (EER) could also have been EEn. But "zeno" does not satisfy the theme in the way that "zero" does...

We also find "nada" in GEENADAVIS, "zip" in MARZIPANS, and "nil" in 38A" Champaign region (EASTERNILLINOIS). Not "Champagne," mind you, which is how I read it for a long time. And was stymied by the fact that the second half looked pretty darned French. The region in France where Champagne is located is now called "Grand Est," but was previously "Champagne-Ardenne."


The cluing and challenging answers befit a Saturday puzzle by the king of tough crosswords, Mr. Walden. 5D: Professional concerned with search engine optimization (EMARKETER) was a hard find. 3D: Boston in the '60s or Chicago in the '90s, e.g. (NBADYNASTY) is excellent.

36D: Live tweets? (BIRDCALLS) as a tricky clue is actually a thing of the past now, I guess, since the platform's rebranding as "X." I expect people who still use the ex-Twitter probably will continue to call their posts "tweets" for a while longer. I myself have never dipped my toe there.

I'm glad to see 41A: Punnery, e.g. (WIT) acknowledged. Too often people turn their noses up at this particular form of humor. But where would we be without it? I'll tell you where. Sadder and less amused.

All right folks. I'm done for the week. I'll say CIAO and turn it over to Horace for tomorrow's review.

- Colum

Friday, October 13, 2023

Friday, October 13, 2023, John-Clark Levin

Ooooooh, you know what gets me ENRAGED? A grid where it's so segmented that you're essentially solving six mini-puzzles. Fortunately for Mr. Levin, the long answers in this puzzle sang like they were coached by a VOICETEACHER, so that made up for it.

Honestly though, the grid is well constructed so that even if you have to restart in any area, it's not impossible. I finished in slightly longer than typical Friday at 7:18, so I have little to really complain about.

There are 18 seven-letter answers in the puzzle, making for the chunky sections. I liked all of them! Starting with 1A: Things getting lit at a party? (MATCHES), with the youth-talk "lit" taken literally. Although they do get lit in many other situations as well. I love the term SCREAMO, even if I promise I will never have any interest in listening to that genre of music.

38A: Figure with exactly 10 digits? (MERMAID) is so good. I question the use of the question-mark, though. CHATGPT is a good contemporary reference. My daughter had to tell her students they couldn't use it as a source in writing papers...

41A: House painted with polka dots, you might say (EYESORE). Probably true in just about any circumstance. 56A: Point of no return (RUBICON) is lovely. Good stuff!

Add in SPACECADET, SMALLTIME, ANECDOTES, SCREENTEST, and the best and most loathesome of all answers, 52A: Music festival lineup (PORTAPOTTIES). Perfect for being a non-QMC. But nobody wants to use one.

How close was Mr. Levin to having OBAMA next to Biden? Instead, the former president is next to a BIDET. There are worse places to be, as long as you're in Europe.

- Colum

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Thursday, October 12, 2023, John Nagamichi Cho

Quite a challenging Thursday puzzle today. I was definitely lost for some time, even though I had a lot of answers filled in. One reason was that I didn't see the "-" clues for a while; not until I had jumped down to the SE corner in hopes of finding a revealer that would help me out. I had already filled in CHR at 21D, wondering if that was an acceptable abbreviation for "chromosome," and then had POP at 22D, which clearly had nothing to do with dosing oneself.

And then I had the very odd clue at 63D: 27- or 55-Down backward (SSA). Yes, both of those other three-letter answers were ASS. Then I saw the "-," and then I got 65A: Covert missions ... or what's covert in eight of this puzzle's answers (BLACKOPS).

In each of the 4 pairs of black squares that touch the east and west sides of the grid, put in the letters OP, and 8 answers suddenly make sense. Now that CHR becomes CHR[O]MOS[O]MES, and 22D: Dosed onself (POP[P]EDA[P]ILL) is much more correct. It also allows for [OP]TFOR and [OP]ENCALL.

On the other side of the grid, we get IMN[O]TAR[O]BOT and PET[P]ASS[P]ORT as well as SWEETS[OP] (never heard of this apple name) and RAGT[OP].

With those black squares essentially removed, the puzzle becomes a much chunkier grid, especially since the long answers are next to an equally long down answer and an 8-letter answer as well. You have to give a nod of recognition to the constructor. The puzzle works in traditional crossword rules in both the supplied grid and in the grid with the black squares removed.

I will admit to FWTE (two errors) here. I had JoCKS at 29A: Ones doing heavy lifting before retirement? (JACKS). I absolutely adore this clue. "Retirement" here is such a silly way to say "replacing a tire on a car." Beautiful. Meanwhile, I also had a hard time with 24D: Doc to consult when confused (FAQ). Not an MD. A document. So nicely done.

Loved the word FOMENTED, and 16A: Scholar's mug collection? (YEARBOOK) is a fun QMC. I'll note that APGERMAN is a bit ad hoc (now anything can be AP? And, by the way, colleges don't even give the credit much any more), and WILLBE is fairly meaningless out of context. MARKKA is a rare choice for our pre-Euro currency collection of words. MEOR and IMAS are not great for partials.

But over all, it's a fine puzzle. As a debut, it's impressive!

- Colum

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Wednesday, October 11, 2023, Miranda Kany

It wasn't that long ago that we had Wednesday recipe puzzle. In fact, it was almost a year ago (12/15/2022) by Dr. Bruce Haight. Today's is simply chock full of ingredients, and as a bonus, the style of cuisine (CAJUN) is in the middle, and the recipe name is scattered in circled letters in the top and bottom rows (JAMBALAYA).

Eight ingredients, each clued in a fun way. I liked 17A: Bit of pork, but not in a congressional bill (ANDOUILLE), both for the clue and for the taste of the ingredient in question. 26A: Stuff it! (PEPPER) is a good example of a FIC (see our glossary in the sidebar). 66A: Fitting way to invest in Campbell's (STOCK) is just silly. And 64A: What pales in comparison to other carbs? (WHITERICE) is a pretty tortured QMC. 

I suppose these ingredients would be sufficient to make jambalaya, but I imagine the best recipes will add a few others. Not to mention shrimp! Isn't that standard? Perhaps not. I can just hear you all - 56A: "Oh, settle down ..." (NOWNOW).


It's a ton of theme material, and Ms. Kany has done an excellent job in making the fill nice and smooth, like a well combined pot of jambalaya. The only entry I have an issue with is 20A: Gets old, say (STALES). I have never used that word as a verb before, preferring to say that the bread is going stale, for example. I had a very weirdly difficult time seeing the crossing of SEALED and EASE. I was convinced it needed to be a consonant, so the E was the last letter filled.

There's a nice comparison between OWLS and ELDER. Although wouldn't it have been fun to clue the latter as "Wise one" to compare with "'Wise' ones"?

- Colum

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Tuesday, October 10, 2023, Nate Cardin

Hoho! Toto and Coco Chanel were pulled over by the po-po, making their evening only so-so.

Which are all the other words that could fit into the pattern featured in today's puzzle's theme, revealed at 70A: Affectionate sign-off ... or a pattern hinting at the starts of the answers to the six starred clues (XOXO). And of my examples, only the fashion designer would fit into the symmetry demanded by the grid.

Some good answers in the theme. JOJORABBIT was a fine film. LOLOJONES is a worthy crossword puzzle answer. NONONANETTE has gone down in Boston history as the reason that Babe Ruth was traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees. Turns out this is incorrect. Although Harry Frazee's theater career saddled him with excess debt, it turns out that other financial difficulties as well as pressure from the rest of baseball pushed him into selling a huge number of players to the Yankees. Curse of the Bambino, my foot.

Cluing is an interesting art form. Even though there are no truly tricky clues in this puzzle, we can still appreciate things like 18A: Stereotypical techie or Trekkie (GEEK) for the rhyme. Or 25A: Ready for dental work, say (NUMB) for immediately recognizable reference. Or 52A: Smallest prime number (TWO) for a nice if basic ROI. Also, the pair of clues at 1D (Layered haircut) and 52D (Quick haircut).

- Colum 

Monday, October 9, 2023

Monday, October 9, 2023, Zachary David Levy

Who knew that Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of his company away from FaceBook in order to make Mr. Levy's crossword theme more feasible?

Today's theme is revealed at 61A: Many a new venture in Silicon Valley ... or a hint to 17-, 26-, 37- and 52-Across (TECHSTARTUP). Each of the theme answers begins with the name of a well-established tech company. I guessed we were going that direction with 17A: Vast South American watershed (AMAZONBASIN). I was thrown ever so slightly by METACARPAL, but then recalled the new name of FaceBook. Sadly (or perhaps not), Mr. Levy did not reference X.

UBERMENSCH is my favorite. You have to reparse it by dropping the umlaut...

I'll be here all week. Literally.

ISLE of Man

Outside of the theme, it's a pretty smooth puzzle (inside of the theme, it's very dark). I liked the meta nature of 12D (see what I did there?). I'll always appreciate a puzzle that references ELLA Fitzgerald. Hope and I celebrated our anniversary this past Friday, and Cece played our wedding song for us on the car ride down to NYC: "Our Love Is Here To Stay." Obvs with Ella singing.

In exciting news, Horace and Frances are coming to HANGOUT this afternoon and overnight on their travels to Minnesota. Looking forward to it!

- Colum

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Sunday, October 8, 2023, Sid Sivakumar


Hello everyone! Just got back from a lovely weekend in NYC, where we celebrated my mother's 85th birthday (last month), my daughter's 25th birthday (next week), and our 27th wedding anniversary (Friday). A fair amount of shopping was done, a lot of excellent eating was accomplished, and we saw "Merrily We Roll Along" on Broadway with Jonathan Groff, Daniel Radcliffe (!!), and Lydia Mendez. Amazing performances all around. Who knew Harry Potter could sing, and also maintain a flawless New York American accent throughout a musical?

And then I got to solve the Sunday puzzle. We sometimes complain that the Sunday offering suffers from a certain amount of bloat, and that the extra theme material doesn't make up for it. Not so today, faithful readers! Mr. Sivakumar gives us a twist on an old concept: the colorful squares which are interpreted literally in other answers. Thus, the yellow-shaded square at the crossing of 24A and 15D is filled in with an N, inside the word CHANCE. This is then interpreted at 25A: Special moment exemplified by 24-Across (GOLDENOPPORTUNITY). See, "chance" is an "opportunity," and the N is "gold." Hah!

It's truly lovely, because the letter is hidden in each of the interpreting answers. I is in REDEYEFLIGHT, E in BROWNIEMIX, V in GRAVYBOAT, and E in PINKYPROMISE. I wondered if there was another meta level to the letters, but N-I-E-V-E doesn't spell anything that connects to the theme.

And then, to top it all off, we get a bonus revealer at 98A: Interesting person ... or what's included, phonetically, five times in this puzzle (COLORFULCHARACTER). Nicely done!

ADONIS and Venus

Not much in terms of tricky clues today. I enjoyed 84D: iPhone charger? (APPLEPAY). I also appreciated the trivia at 22A: State whose last four letters are the first four letters of its capital (VERMONT) - that's Montpelier. Do any other states have a similar property? Nope. The closest any gets is Georgia - Atlanta, and that's just one letter. Too bad.

- Colum

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Saturday, October 7 2023, Alex Vratsanos

Hello all!  Put your hand up if the greeting "Happy Thanksgiving" means something to you today..It was a real treat to round out my blogging week with this tricky, almost-pangrammatical (all but 'J' - so close!) Saturday puzzle.  (Addendum : the last Saturday puzzle I blogged, back on September 9, also came within a 'J' of being a pangram.  Weird coincidence - or conspiracy??)

Things got off to a splendid start down the right side, with one of my favourite expressions - INTHEWEEDS ("Overwhelmed with details") - making an appearance, alongside the very clever ECHOLOCATE ("Sound off on?") .  By the time I reached the SE corner, I was feeling pretty smug, and that's when it caught up to me - I entered BARHOP instead of BENDER for "Pub crawl and then some", and, in a particularly forehead-slapping moment, ELM instead of YEW as the "material forVoldemort's wand and Robin Hood's bow".  Chaos!  But it all got straightened out, as "Written in it this clue is" *had* to be YODASPEAK.

By this point, with the right side mostly filled in and the left side still blank-ish, I was already thinking "pangram" and that helped, as the remaining answers were loaded with high-value Scrabble letters like Z, X and also Q.  My very favourite entry was the mystifying "Perfect square for the circumference of pie" (PIZZABOX).  I was hoping that the very first clue "Plot development with twists?" would be MAIZEMAZE - but it's HEDGEMAZE, as revealed by the crosser "Zero-emission aircraft" (GLIDERS).  The pluralization of this one made it trickier; it also triggered a walk down memory lane as I used to go gliding (or, "soaring") with my dad when I was a teenager.

So much great content here.  "Weaver's work" was just about my last one in.  I thought it was going to be something like BASKET or RATTAN, but no - ALIENS - brilliant!  Great fun on a Saturday morning.

With that, I shall leave you in Colum's more-than-capable hands.  "See" you in a few weeks!


Thursday, October 5, 2023

Friday, October 6 2023, Zhouqin Burnikel and Tom Pepper

Sometimes the tiniest little error can have a disproportionate impact...and so it was in the NW corner today, after the first Down answer went in  ("Recipe abbr." = TBSP as it almost always is).  This led to 18A - "what's shaken after 'Shake'" - starting with 'P', so it's PEG, right?  (It's not.  It's PAW of course.)  These two wrong letters completely farbed me up, as my mother would say, so that the very clever QMC at 16A "Notices that trouble is in the air?" (SMOGALERTS) was just about my last one in.  

Moving along - over on the right side, I put in ESTADAS for "The States, to Mexicans", which, being completely wrong (it's ELNORTE), really wreaked havoc in the general area.  Once that was sorted out, I liked the well-concealed PRIVATEEYE ("Spade, for one" - great clue!)  Just south of ELNORTE was the QMC "Transportation for a bride?" (TRAIN); this one somehow doesn't sit right with me.  I get that it's punny.. I guess it's that it isn't actually a bride's transportation in any sense.  I dunno.  Is it just me, here?

Towards the bottom, it took me longer than it should have that the answer to "Expert with tips" was ADVICEGURU.  I had the GURU part early but couldn't make the leap for quite some time.  I liked the seldom-seen TRICE ("Blink of an eye").  Oh and as another example of my transitory ineptitude over on the left, "Poor sport's reaction" is SOURGRAPES, not SORELOSING as I originally entered.  D'oh!

Very nice difficult themeless, this.  Part of what makes the Friday and Saturday crosswords so enjoyable is that they're peppered with clues that are correct but give away little upon first reading, and this offering was no exception.  I hope you liked it too!


Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Thursday, October 5 2023, Daniel Bodily

A nice chewy Thursday puzzle today, which I was able to negotiate without BODILY harm, as it were.  (Sorry.)  The theme here is juxtaposition!  (Please, can somebody put that word into a crossword?)  Six Down clues lead to unexpected answers, as quickly became apparent as I worked through the grid, with words appearing that seemed to be real words but not matching the clues ... for example, 4D "Quick-access rows of icons" started to look like BARS-something-something.  "What's going on?" I thought, and just continued on down the puzzle; by the time I reached the revealer clue, it was all clear : each theme clue is split in two and the pieces swapped in order before entry in the grid.  So BARS was correct, as it led to BARSTOOL, a juxtaposition of TOOLBARS as suggested by the clue.    This is some fine stuff!  We also had:

  • "Surfaces for some highrollers" = CRAPSTABLES --> TABLESCRAPS
  • "Cook-your-own dishes in some Asian restaurants" = HOTPOTS --> POTSHOT
  • "Bureaucratic hassle" = REDTAPE --> TAPERED
  • "Dummies" = PINHEADS --> HEADSPIN
  • "Mark of wisdom, some say" = AGELINE --> LINEAGE
Making it trickier is that the rearranged "real" answers are not defined in the clues.  Also neat is none of them is just a swapped word pair.  Kudos to Mr. Bodily for coming up with this!!

The revealer clue is "Prevails eventually" (ENDSUPONTOP), which explains why all the theme answers are Down.

I thought the rest of the grid was chewy but fair for a Thursday.  Did Debussy really say there was "too much singing at the OPERA"?  ... ROMA tomatoes are by far the best choice as a base for red pasta sauce ... "How a sailor achieves a good work-life balance?" (SEALEGS) was clever and reminded me of my childhood, when I lived in a remote fishing community (Google this : 50.772522262904666, -59.027979707086374) that was a two-day boat ride from civilization; it took me just about that long every year, when we returned from summer holidays, to shake the nausea and get my sea legs.  Just in time to step off the boat!  ... NYPD Blue was my wife's + my favourite show back in the day.  We used to pronounce it "Nippid".

And with those little personal nuggets, I bid you bonsoir.  One more charity bike ride tomorrow - 95 km in the hills north of Toronto - and that's it for the season.  "See" you tomorrow!


Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Wednesday, October 4 2023, Gary Larson

Today's puzzle features a healthy dose of AI, a topic that's all over the news (and rightly so) these days.  Mr. Larson has managed to come up with a quartet of phrases containing the letters A and I, which when juxtaposed yield brand new phrases!  To wit:

  • BALLSOFFIRE and BILLSOFFARE <-- my favourite!

This is brilliant to me!  The clues to each of these include definitions of both variants.  Of course, this puts a burden on the crossers of those mutable A's and I's - they have to make sense with either letter.  And so they do of course!  For example, the answer crossing the last I/A of PACKINGLIST is BASIL and BASAL.  You're helpfully given definitions of both variants in the clues to these crossers as well.  

I feel like if I had more time, I would happily spend it trying to come up with other phrases that fit this bill.  Really nicely done!

The rest of the fill was pretty straightforward.  I liked the Hitchhiker's Guide reference. (Was there really a PARTIV to the trilogy?) I remember reading it and loving it in university, then re-reading it again a few years ago - or trying to - and finding it really lame.  That's life, I guess. The seldom-seen OTIOSE ("Superfluous") makes a welcome appearance today!

I got nothing else.  Fun puzzle!


Monday, October 2, 2023

Tuesday, October 3 2023, Troy Laedtke

An intricate device in today's serpentine-themed puzzle - five hidden SNAKEs coiled in the interior of the grid, connected head to tail by black squares in order of increasing length.  As instructed in the revealer clue 48D, the black squares at the head (or is that the "tail") of the first four snakes "feed" them, so that the following snake is longer.  Just like the video game, we're told.  I was more familiar with Centipede back in the day, which had the same behavior if I remember correctly.  And so we get ASP -> MAMBA -> GARTER -> ANACONDA -> BOACONSTRICTOR.  Clearly some of those black squares were more nutritious than others!

You have to admire the trickiness involved in putting this puzzle together.  I imagine Mr. Laedtke laid out the snakes first, and that dictated the rest of the grid.  As a bonus, a couple of snake-related factiods are thrown in - they're ALIEN to Ireland and their "legs" are VESTIGIAL (though, to be honest, it's a bit of a stretch to be referring to a snake's legs in any sense).  Very neat when it's all revealed!  The snakes themselves weren't really a help in solving the puzzle, not for this solver at least - just a satisfying "aha" looking over the filled-out grid.  

I was slowed down by entering ODDSOCK instead of ONESOCK for "Frustrating find while folding laundry", which messed up the SW corner for a bit.  Didn't help that as a Canadian, the names of your Justices - represented here by NEIL Gorsuch and ELENA Kagan - aren't exactly top-of-mind for me.  

Didn't love DRATS ("Frustrated cries").  A bit of an emergency pluralization, methinks.  The one QMC "An aye for the eye" (NOD) made me smile.  Overall, a fun Tuesday puzzle..


Sunday, October 1, 2023

Monday, October 2 2023, Alexandria Mason

Well folks, I'm a little fatigued after my charity bike ride today in the hills west of Toronto, and that explains my careless, scattershot approach to this Monday's crossword.  Too embarrassed to enumerate my errors but they were plentiful, along the lines of START instead of ONSET for "Commencement".  That sort of thing.  But that was just me.

The puzzle itself was fine Monday fare, with a gentle phonetic theme that had 5 answers - 6, including the revealer, ending with the same phonetic sound : DAILYHIGHS, SAMURAIS, BEHINDBLUEEYES, ASTHECROWFLIES, INDISGUISE and the revealer FINALIZE.  This is quite neat in that the same sound is expressed in six different ways (readers - can you think of others?); and also, it is always impressive to fit that number of theme clues into a 15x15 grid.

Stray notes and observations along the way .. I don't think SAMURAIS (12th-century Japanese warriors) has a plural form like this, notwithstanding its contribution to the theme.  (Anybody?)   .. Who knew that Juliett (the NATO letter before KILO) had that double T at the end?  Till now, not me! ... "Make-up artist?" (LIAR) was a fun little QMC ... As for Scotch, I take it single-malt and neat, thank you very much - no SODA for me!

A fun easy introduction to the week!  Stay tuned for the Tuesday review ..