Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018, Robyn Weintraub

6:13 (FWOE)

One-third of my Thursday time! But with a silly error. I guessed ETa, thinking even as I did it that it might be a D, but I never checked back. I wondered about ARRIa. Ah well. At the tournament, I'd have 45 seconds to take a look over and see if I made a mistake, right?

Meanwhile, this puzzle was right on my wavelength in so many different ways. My first answer was 2D: Genetic disorder carried by Queen Victoria (HEMOPHILIA). I recently read a biography of Tsar Nicholas, who was married to Victoria's granddaughter, Alexandra. Their son had hemophilia, which is a horrible disease, by the way. But a gimme for me nonetheless.

SONDHEIM was another immediate gimme, as was CHEVRE (drooling right now...) and LIVER. That whole corner fell in under 30 seconds. 1D: School card (CLASSCLOWN) is going on the list of great clues. I don't think we've added anything to that list for quite some time. [Turns out it was just last week. D'oh!]

Meanwhile, 20D: Mozart title (HERR) is also very good, and I smiled but was not at all fooled by 36A: Port authority? (WINEMAKER).

But seriously, that's not even all. There's a Monty Python reference (KINGARTHUR), an astronomy/Greek mythology reference (CHARON), an acknowledgement of Joe BIDEN's awesomeness.

I have absolutely no complaints except that it was too easy.

- Colum

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thursday, March 15, 2018, Joe DiPietro


I had an incredible amount of difficulty with the NW corner today. Nothing would go in. Stared at it for at least five minutes before getting KEYIN. I'll argue that NUTLIKE is completely out there, while SUPE is rough. And why is 2D: Gut feeling? answered by KNOT? Do people get a knot in their gut? I would never have thought of that. On the other hand, I do appreciate POTTY mouth. I'd wanted mOTor for a while.

So... I guess it's THEIDES of March, huh? In honor, there are four phrases in the long down answers that begin with "I'd". I don't love IDTAKETHAT, which sounds a bit ad hoc. The other three are very strong, with my favorite being IDRATHERNOT.

It was odd to come across ACAIBERRY in the full form, rather than the partial we typically find in the puzzle. I tried TAXevadER at first, which also slowed me down. There were multiple occasions in solving this puzzle where I wondered if a rebus was in play, but sadly no.

How excellent was it that ENSUE crosses ANTECEDE? Not that I'm particularly fond of either answer.

Maybe next weekend I'll drown my sorrows with Horace and Frannie at the ACPT BARSCENE.

- Colum

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Jeff Chen


Mr. Chen has whipped up a quick MARINARA sauce in today's very Wednesday seeming puzzle. I am appreciative that the circles are actually necessary in this puzzle. I wouldn't have been able to find the string of letters I needed to anagram to each ingredient otherwise. As it is, I find onion, tomato, garlic, and herbs in each theme answer.


The theme answers themselves are at least acceptable. HOTOATMEAL feels a little ad hoc, but BARBERSHOP, ZEROINON, and ARTIFICIALGRASS are all strong.

I was slowed by entering MONamour for 5D: "My darling," in France (MONCHERI). Either is reasonable, I think. There are a number of very nice longer answers, such as AEROSMITH, ARGONAUT, and MCHAMMER.

I also very much liked 13A: Pioneering text adventure game (ZORK). I still remember working my way through those games with a good deal of nostalgia.

I imagine some will say that adding "disparagingly" to the clue at 63A will not excuse the use of the word CRETIN in the puzzle. It certainly has a negative connotation, separate from the medical sense of a person deformed by a congenital thyroid deficiency. My initial reaction was that it's a longstanding English word, but then I thought how I'd feel seeing a racist epithet in the grid. OKFINE, I'll join my voice to the chorus.

But maybe we can just all share some SUDS in the SAUNA and acknowledge all the ways Mr. Chen has neatly put in words that end in _SP (TSP, ISP, ASPS).

- Colum

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tuesday, March 13, 2018, Carl Worth


How do you get rid of ENNUI? In my life, you do the NYT xword every day! One thing I would not do however, is POKE a turtle that's withdrawn into its shell. Leave the poor animal alone, say I!

Anyway, like Horace said yesterday, what will they think of next? This a very well executed theme. The revealer, KEYWEST, says it all. The left half of each theme answer phrase (that is the part towards the west of the puzzle) is a standard computer keyboard key.

The four phrases are excellent. My favorite is definitely ESCAPEROOM. I did one of these at the mall for my birthday in 2017. It was not the greatest example, I'm told. For her birthday, Cece and her friends tried one of the really hard local examples, and nearly made it out in one hour. Although I'm hardly a Metallica fan, ENTERSANDMAN is my second favorite theme answer.

There's some Scrabbly goodness in the SE corner, where JAKARTA and ZAPPA cross each other. On the downside, I don't like that ORONO comes after MAINE, so the connection is backwards as you solve. But I do like ADAM symmetrically across from ABEL, and the dual "Zap, in a way" clues are nice as well.

And we're done. SNORT!

- Colum

Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018, John R. O'Brien


Hey, it's Colum again, a new week, and that much closer to ACPT. I am very pleased to have made it under four minutes while solving on paper. I think my training is paying off!

I had one major hiccup: 38D: "Allow me" (ICANHELP). I tried ICANdoit, which I think is closer to the correct interpretation of the quoted phrase, but that cuts no beans when it doesn't fit with the crosses. I looked at 50A: "Star Wars Episode IV" subtitle, where I had ANEWD___ and thought: "There's no way that's 'A New Deal', is there?" Nope, ANEWHOPE, as any redblooded self-respecting American knows.

Before I get to the good stuff, I'm just going to acknowledge three answers whose spelling I was unsure about as I entered them. The first is HADJI. I never know if it's going to be DJ or JJ. Then there was 11D: Blood-related (HEMAL). Yuck. That's just not a real term at all, speaketh the physician. Finally, there is DECA. I just left the third letter blank until I saw the ___K in the crossing answer, and figured it had to be C.

The theme today has to do with ONE EYEd things. SAMMYDAVISJR lost his left eye in a car accident. POLYPHEMUS lost his single eye to Odysseus. The JACKOFSPADES is a classic one-eyed Jack, but does he really not have another eye out of sight? And finally...

Nobody knows how he lost an eye
1A: Parts missing from the Venus de Milo (ARMS) starts the puzzle off with a bang. I also liked GLORIA and SEEGER, and COZEN is a great word as well.

- Colum

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday, March 11, 2018, Matthew Sewell


In this puzzle, five dogs of literary and comic strip fame (ASTA, ODIE, NANA, TOTO, and SANDY) have become separated from their owners and are "lost" in longer answers elsewhere in the grid. My favorite answer is also my least favorite: at 46A we find ODIE in YOYODIETERS. I like the expression yo yo dieters, but anyone who knows me knows that I have a long-standing animosity to the Garfield comic strip. The owner or owners of each dog is a separate answer to a clue that offers a brief description of the dog and calls asks for the person or persons to call if the dog is found. "Last seen being mocked by a cat. If found call ____" JONARBUCKLE.

The dog names are nicely incorporated across multiple words in the answers, and they all appear in different parts of the grid from the owners. I was surprised at the number of the dog/owner pairs I knew. I figured out the theme with LITTLEORPHANANNIE, but her dog was the one whose name I was least familiar with, giving me some trouble in the southeast. The crosses weren't much help because I didn't know the Utah Mountain range UINTA, I wasn't sure how they were going to spell UEY, and I think SCREEN is an odd answer for "Moviedom." Props to Mr. Sewell for pounding all the dogs and owners into the grid without leaving too much junk around. I might wish the belt of answers across the middle (TPKS, HAI, BAJA, RTE) had been tightened up a bit, but those four answers work out to less than 3% of the total fill. There was some nice bonus theme material with LOSTDOG at 1A and and SIC. As an aside, DOROTHYGALE is an hilariously apt name for the central character of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Apt!


Well, it's time for me to blow this hot dog stand and turn the gig over to a professional. GOTOTOWN, Colum.


Great week of reviews, Frannie! I think we all know who the professional is around here.

I had a hilarious time trying to figure out why the dogs were advertising for their lost owners, mistaking the blanks in the clues as if they were to be filled by the pets' names. Why, why, why, I asked myself, was LITTLEORPHANANNIE clued as being in the company of a red-haired girl? Also, I'll say here that I'd thought it might be Charlie Brown, who pined after a little redheaded girl.

Anyway, figured all that out. I'll just point out that 1A: Heading on a neighborhood poster (LOSTDOG) is part of the theme as well.

My favorite clue and answer is 87D: Love all around? (NOSCORE). Took a long time to get that!

- Colum

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Saturday, March 10, 2018, Ryan McCarty


OHHI. Frannie here, ONLINE once again with the Saturday puzzle review.

Since there's no theme today, I thought it would be best if I HADALISP of clues and answers I liked, so here goes:

  • Opposite of downs (SIPS) - this meaning of 'down' gets me every time.
  • Modern test subject (DNA) - a nice, open-to-multiple-interpretations (OTMI (tm)) clue. 
  • Org. concerned with cracking and leaking had me thinking EPA at first, but no, NSA! So many orgs... 
  • Breath-taking experience (SLEEPAPNEA) - aptnea!
  • Quaint retort (TISNT) - I'll be using this one tonight at the 1920's-themed party we're attending at a local art museum. 
  • "Jeannie out of the Bottle" memoirist (BARBARAEDEN) - who doesn't dream of Jeannie? 
  • Changes keys? (ISLANDHOPS) - indeed. 

I struggled a bit in the south east where I had trouble piecing together how to connect PIE with DEAR and figuring out what either one had to do with "Spot for a stud"(PIERCEDEAR). Derp. ERMA didn't help.


Clues that caused me to say to myself, ITSODD, were CADENCED (In rhythm) and GASTAP. I've never heard of a gas tap. I tried GASTAx [SIC] at first, which I thought could function as one kind of control, but POI, was I off base.