## Thursday, February 15, 2024

### Thursday, February 15, 2024, Teddy Katz and Rich Katz

Despite getting today's theme revealer right off the bat, I didn't "get" the theme until I discussed it with Horace. In the solve, I saw that I could leave the circled squares empty and get a valid result, so that's what I did. What I did not see was that those circled squares could also be filled with specific double letters to make both the Across and Down answers match the same clues. For example, the clue for 9D is "Flower". If you skip the circled square, the answer is the beautifully cromulent BLO[]OM, and if you enter a double S (SS) in the circled square, you get the equally cromulent BLO[SS]OM. The same doubled letter used for each Down works for the corresponding Across clue. In this case, the Across clue is "Told where to go, say" for CU[]ED, or with the SS, CU[SS]ED - heh. Amazingly clever to be able to include five instances where either DOUBLEORNOTHING works! I'm sorry I didn't figure it out myself, but I was off my game this morning thanks to an update to Duolingo that caused me quite a setback, plus trouble with Wordle and Connections. For once, the puzzle was the least of my problems. :)

Anyhoo, in addition to the masterful theme, I enjoyed learning that the full name of BTS "translates as 'Bulletproof Boy Scouts'" (BTS), that ALI said he threw his gold medal into the Ohio River (now I have to find out why :), and that in San Francisco, the FOG is nicknamed Karl - ha!

As if that weren't enough, there were some great C/APs. I particularly liked "Hit or miss, perhaps" for VERB, "Soft rock" for TALC, and "Make love?" for ENDEAR - ha! Some nicely ambiguous clues were "This too shall pass"  for FAD, "Was up" for LED, "Impressive showbiz quartet" for EGOT, and DISC for "CD component." The "Hundos"/CSPOTS pairing was also fun. Fill-wise, I liked LISSOME, SKEETER, and SNOOKER.

I'm mostly over the black start to the day, but as a vent to my remaining grump, I will just say that I think the word AGO could use some clueing help. It is often clued, as today, with "In the past" or similar, which *is* a match, of course, in a way, but there's a lack of parallelism that always irks me slightly. Feel free to ARGUE. :)

~Frannie.