Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017, Tom McCoy


So I says to Horace, I says, how about that ACPT? And then he says, ALLSIKNOWIS that there were no LETUPS. ANDTHENISAYS, maybe next year will be my year. And then he says, ODDSARE, it won't be. Then I says, next year's ALONGWAYSOFF. Then he says, HOWSABOUT getting on with the review? So I says, I'll finish this later.

I am going to STRAIT like the puzzle today. The theme revealer once again makes me wonder if the constructor started with STAKEOUT, or with a pet peeve against one or more of the theme answers. I can imagine either being true. :)

I enjoyed FLAGON, TYROS,  RILECANON, TROIKA, and TOOSOON - which was used during the live commentating of the B final at the Tournament to good effect. I also liked the fact that although there were quite a number of threes, there were relatively few abbreviations (VPS, AGT), or other kinds of filler.

How can you IMPROV on UTOPIA? Stay tuned...


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017, Tracy Gray and Jeff Chen

Mixed Results

We got a whole paint box of fun today. Well-known phrases and titles that feature color words went across and down, but the colors were a little off. It was like being too close to a Monet. Only when you stood where the two colors cross paths were the answers' true colors revealed. Horace and I got through the puzzle with flying colors. The one slow down was at 45A. (1973 #1 hit for Jim Croce). We knew the result was meant to be brown, but weren't sure of the correct mix of source shades. It turned out to be GREEN and RED - interesting! HASHGREENS is kind of funny on its own, but probably something best avoided in real life.

I thought there was a lot to like today. The puzzle entertained with a good mix of content, smooth flow, and some twists gave it a humorous tint. :)

A few favorites:
39A. Possible subject of a French scandal (AMIE) - great word. :)
56A. First and last word of the Musketeers' motto (ALL) - I'm reading one of the Musketeer sequels right now.
60A. Degree in math (NTH) - ha!
68A. Target protector, perhaps (MALLCOP) - clever.
102A. False start? (PSEUDO) - it works on so many levels!
46D. Delighting? (OUTAGE)

I also liked seeing TENDBAR, RYES, and ENIGMA.

Huygens probably enjoyed CATSUIT, HEINIE, and EUNUCHS today - just kidding about the last one - kidding again! I think we all know which one he probably didn't enjoy.

94D. South American prairie (LLANO) and 102D. Fruit tree (PAWPAW) were new to me, but gettable - like I like!

I tried to find a few red flags to mention, but it was a no go. Now, we're off to get some lunch before the Championship Playoffs. Good luck everyone!


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017, Sam Ezersky and David Steinberg

0:36:23 (F.W.O.E.)

Hello World, it's me, Horace. I'm giving Frannie a day off, so she can focus on the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. And speaking of that, it's going really well so far. I can say that, because I haven't yet seen any results! Hah! And another thing, Misters Ezersky and Steinberg are sitting together two rows in front of us at the tournament! Yep, it's a special weekend for us solvers, because we can, for example, go right up to Mr. Ezersky and tell him how much we liked NOBODYCARES (66A: "Just stop talking already"). I would have discussed more entries with him, but at the time, I had not yet finished the puzzle. Frannie and I just finished it up together during the lunch break. Three puzzles down, three to go, and then one more tomorrow. Wish us luck!

But getting back to today's puzzle, I ended up really liking it, even though I did not get the J of JACKEDUP or JUMBLED until after being told that I had an error. I think I had an R in there at first, or maybe a B. Something that didn't really make sense with the Across.

Not much time, because we're heading back down to the ballroom soon, but I will call out several entries I liked:

GILT - 30A: Finished elegantly
DELUGE - 21A: Torrent
BATTERYACID - 17A: Coffee, in military slang
ABOUTME - 39D: Introduction to bio?
ROEVWADE - 33A: Classic case of making life choices?
FETCHES - 3D: Gets
FERAL - 6D: Unbroken

There was lots to love, really, and as the guy sitting next to me said of this puzzle, "If you get 1A, it goes quickly." Well, Dear Reader, I did not get 1A without, ohh, maybe eight crosses, and as a result, the puzzle did not go quickly. But, sometimes that's a good thing, especially on a Saturday.

Ciao for niao.

- Horace

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017, Michael Hawkins and John Guzetta


A great big howdy from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament! I came back early from the wine and cheese reception to try to get this review in under the wire. I had better get down to business.

The shortz of it is that this was a toughie for me. I looked at it on and off during the three hour drive and kept chipping away at it. Sadly, the errors came in the only section I completed (or thought I completed) with ease - the south east. I dropped in the acrosses without the looking much at the downs, so I didn't notice that my erroneous TimEDELAY at 56A. left 47D. with PUmIL instead of PUPIL and DiRE instead of DARE. Derp.

On the upside, I was happy that I was able to complete the grid because at first, I thought I was doomed. ATEIT in the north east held me up for a time over there. The two names at the bottom of the south west stack (RAIMI and INNES)were complete unknowns, causing trouble in that section. Oddly, because I am always struggling with names of people I don't know, 39A. Judith with two Tonys got me going in the mid west. For some reason, I guessed IVEs, which, while not completely correct, was correct enough to kick start things over there.

At 23D. One of a hitched pair, I started with bride, then switched it to groom. When neither of those worked, I gave up on that idea, only to have it be HUBBY. Funny. Nice to see PHIAL in there, and its neighbor LEVIATHAN. I also liked Men's fashion shortcut (CLIPONTIE). I enjoyed 25A. Clip art? (BONSAI). I would have liked ASTERISKS better if I had figured it out sooner. :)

There was a lot of good stuff in this puzzle, but I did think it suffered a little from separations between the sections. Getting all the answers in the north east, for example, did very little to help me with any of the middle sections, and so forth. As our esteemed co-blogger has pointed out from time to time, when that's the case, it's like solving many mini puzzles - and not like the daily ones by Mr. Fagliano.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017, Sandy Ganzell


I got the skinny on this theme about midway through. When I first started the puzzle, the flashing info icon in my app had me worried that I would need to see the print version to complete it, but I didn't. I was able to visualize the theme answers by narrowing my eyes. :) My favorite today might be [narrow]ESCAPE, although there was a time when I loved a [thin]MINT. I am not a fan of [skinny]JEANS.

In other news, I first entered bIg for 4A. (Lead-in to toe or top). It works, but it wasn't correct. Ha! I finally got TOOKHEART at 4D, so the big toe was marched right out of there.

When you see the word AERATE, do you think of that Simpsons episode when Mr. Burns leads the power plant staff in calisthenics? "Raise your right hock. Aerate. Raise your left hock. Aerate." Good times.

I hope Horace both got and enjoyed 46A. Writing on many a chalkboard (MENU) because that's just what he uses at home to list the dinners for the week. I enjoyed 32A. Pickup line? (RAM), 28D. French well (BIEN), and 30D. Museum piece (RELIC). It's twice now we've seen THRICE.

There were a few answers I was SARI to see, including 1A. Cable channel owned by Time Warner (TBS) and 7A. Countdown abbr. (HRS), which were kinda BLAH, but otherwise I think the puzzle URNs an OLE.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017, Jeffrey Wechsler


I get the GIST of what Mr. Wechsler was going for with the "literally" part of the theme clues, but this use of the word seems a little off the mark to me - not so much that I am going to  RANTRANTRANTRANT about it, but kinda odd. However, tri as I might, I couldn't come up with a better way to describe or clue the situation.

This is also the kind of theme that gives you a lot of bang for your buck once you get it. That may seem counter indicated by my not so MSEC time on this one, but I finished the bulk of the puzzle pretty APACE. It was the north west that was my undoing. I didn't know the "Waiting for Lefty" playwright (ODETS), Eve who wrote "The Vagina Monologues," (ENSLER), or Big brand of kitchen knives. I made some pretty good guesses, but my chance at perfection was GONGONGONGONGON because I failed to notice that I had misspelled one of the CYCLEs, so I ended up with CUTlO instead of CUTCO. PUTS.

Some clues and answers I liked:
Barrel part (STAVE)
Unrenewed, as a subscription (LAPSED)
Brawl (SETTO)
Modest response to a compliment (ITRY)

Other interesting bits:
Did you notice AVER right over VERA in the middle south? Too bad he couldn't get rave in there! I'm guessing Huygens liked seeing KENKEN in the puzzle. I entered sudoku at first, which, it turns out, was not invented in Japan, although it did get its name there. As an unrelated aside, thanks to Wikipedia's disambiguation efforts, I learned that there's a form of rat-bite fever called sodoku. Did not know that. I also enjoyed SLUR, NERD, and BRACE.

Here are the clues I thought were CROCs.
Nonmeat choices at a deli counter (PASTAS) - Pasta salad, maybe, but pastas?
Cold War threat (REDCHINA) - Ooooh, that China! :|
Severe malaise (ANOMIE) - probably cromulent, but pretty far from the way I and my dictionary define this word.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017, George Barany and John D. Child


If you go by the theme of this puzzle, there *is* an accounting of tastes, and it is done on ABACI. OK, that's not true, but each taste is accounted for in the circled  letters within five grid-spanning answers. My favorite is PUREMATHEMATICS. It has a great clue, the best taste sensation [UMAMI] and, who doesn't like math?

There are quite a few other entertaining clues in today's puzzle such as 37D. Nice location (RIVIERA), 67D. Pool contents? (GENES), and 61D. Noah count? (TWO).  I also enjoyed 5A. Peter or Paul, but not Mary (TSAR), and 43A. Something one shouldn't make in public (SCENE),

The grid also features some words I like including ETCH, SITAR, CRAMS, USURP, BLOT, and HAR.

I EGRET to say that there were a few clues and answers that were not my cup of tea: 19D. Bully's boast (IMMEAN) and 35D. You can count on them (ABACI). I found SCABS and ECZEMA entirely unpalatable. :)