Saturday, March 30, 2024

Saturday, March 30, 2024, Blake Slonecker

Happy birthday today to Horace! Who is an undisclosed amount of years old today. Congratulations! And enjoy today's jawbreaker of a puzzle.

Woof! What a tough nut to crack. The grid has a four-way symmetry, so every corner is made up of six 7-letter answers intersecting. There are four 15-letter answers making a cross through the central section, which has a diamond shape. 

The grid spanning answers are all excellent, in my opinion. If I had to rank them (and apparently, I do), I would list them as follows:

4. 36A: "No need to blame yourself" (ACCIDENTSHAPPEN). It's a great phrase, and the clue is good. It just is not as good as the other three.

3. 7D: Paradoxical line of amazement (THEREARENOWORDS). Another great phrase, and I like the clue's reminder of the silliness of the sentiment.

2. 8D: When the lights go out? (CHRISTMASSEASON). What a great QMC, showing how good a QMC can be. If the clue had used "up" instead of "out" there would have been no confusion, right? So good.

1. 32A: Patient check-ins (GENTLEREMINDERS). Obviously I'm a sucker for a clue that shows us the ambiguity of the English language. I was so stuck on the possiblity of "annual checkups," for example, that I didn't see the first word of the clue as an adjective. Love it.

TIMREID as DJ Venus Flytrap

Other great clues include:

12D: Like some schools (PISCINE) - did not see that coming.

14D: Keep in the back of one's mind, perhaps (REPRESS). Hah!

48A: Locals go to all of them (STOPS) - local trains, that is.

40D: Making out (ESPYING). So much for blue material. How many tried "neckING" first?

I enjoyed the clues for LEBANON and ECUADOR. I did not want to have 41D in my puzzle, but non-constructors can't be choosers.

Tomorrow, the one-year-older Horace takes over.

- Colum


  1. Happy Birthday to Horace!

    Oof, this is a tough one, but upon (finally!) completing it, I had to admire it for the reasons you pointed out. I'd complain about the ABIDE clue, but since I had the "A" for AMANA, it really helped me out.

    Thanks for the week, Colum!

  2. What, no mention of CRAPPER (Can)? Hah. This new Joel Fagliano era is already getting interesting. Today's puzzle was definitely a killer, but I think last week's was pretty tough, too. Are we seeing a shift in difficulty? This thing took me almost 40 minutes, and that with repeated breaks. It's like the old days, and I, for one, welcome our new puzzle overlords. (No offense, Will, and I hope the recovery is going well.)