Sunday, June 8, 2014

NYT 10:01 (Amy) 
Hex/Hook 11:43* (pannonica) 
Reagle 8:44 (Amy) 
LAT 7:40 (Amy) 
WaPo untimed (Janie) 
CS 25:18 (Ade) 

Patrick Berry’s New York Times crossword, “Strike One”

NY Times crossword solution, 6 8 14 "Strike One"

NY Times crossword solution, 6 8 14 “Strike One”

Strike out one letter in each long answer that’s clued by the first part of the clue by changing it to an X, and you end up with the fake long answer signaled by the second part of the clue. The X doesn’t work with each Down crossing, though. Apparently the electronic puzzle expected me to provide the original letter and the X separated by a slash, but that looks silly if you ask me. I had the original letters all circled, then I changed them to X’s, and the .puz told me I had every one of those squares incorrect. Whatever. Here are the theme answers:

  • 23a. [*cross out* Symbols of happiness] Transmissions with colons, dashes and parentheses?, SMILEY FACES becomes SMILEY FAXES. This is the clue format used in the .puz file, which is unable to use strikethrough text.
  • 29a. [Sun Tzu tome] Madame Tussaud’s specialty?, THE ART OF WAR/WAX. Strikethrough text as seen, without the brackets, at
  • 38a. ["Star Wars" character] Where droids go to dry out?, ARTOO DETOO/DETOX.
  • 42a. [Gibbons and siamangs] Mountaintop that’s not the very top?, LESSER APES/APEX.
  • 56a. [Pageant] Circumstances that render someone attractive?, BEAUTY CONTEST/CONTEXT.
  • 78a. [Pine, e.g.] Dinosaur that never goes out of style?, EVERGREEN TREE/T. REX.
  • 92a. [Studio substitute] Squarish bed?, BODY/BOXY DOUBLE.
  • 95a. [Member of a certain 1990s-2000s rock band] Censor unhappy with “Family Guy” and “Glee,” maybe?, FOO/FOX FIGHTER.
  • 102a. [Children's song] Ignore the rest of the lunch I brought and just eat the fish?, SKIP TO MY LOU/LOX.
  • 113a. [After-dinner display] One way to see a pie’s filling?, DESSERT TRAY/X-RAY.
  • 124a. Struck out, as one letter in each of this puzzle’s theme answers, XED.

If you keep track of the crossed-out letters (which I’ve underlined above), they spell out CROSSED OUT. Hey! Ten theme entries because there are 1- magical letters to tie the theme together with a satin ribbon and a pretty bow on top.

The minimum number of theme squares in a Sunday LA Times puzzle is 84; this one has 113 if I counted right. The size of the theme presumably accounts for the handful of entries we don’t expect to see in a Berry puzzle—your CESTA, your AGARS … hmm, maybe there are only those two, in which case Berry deserves a prize. I grumble at way more than two entries in a typical 21×21 grid.

I haven’t really got anything more to say about this puzzle, aside from giving it 4.5 stars. Super-smooth puzzle packed with a multi-layered theme? That’s good stuff. There are also no X’s outside of the theme, which helps keep the theme squeaky clean. Also! Despite the title being “Strike One,” it’s not yet another baseball theme, which I appreciate.

Doug Peterson’s Washington Post crossword, “The Post Puzzler No. 218″—Janie’s review

Washington Post 6/8

Washington Post 6/8

A tale of two puzzles, this. As I looked at the contents of the finished grid, all I could see was a real beauty; as I was solving, however (in multiple sittings plus, gulp, one Google…), I couldn’t helping thinking I was dealing with a true beast. Last week’s Jeffrey Harris puzzle? A veritable breeze of a solve. WaPo: you are one unpredictable brain-tease/r!

The beauty part? Fill like CLICK-BAIT (even if I was slow to remember it, thank you, BEQ/NYT for putting this phrase on my radar…), “SUGAR, SUGAR” [and Everything's Archie], CANDYGRAM, PHILOMENA, COMES ALIVE, HAIR PIECES, LOOFAHS, VERSATILE, “OMIGOSH!”; the way most of that fill is also a part of a corner triple-stack or -column, adjacent to other totally solid if less (subjectively) “sparkly” entries. Lookin’ at you, MIAMI AREA, AARON BURR (my nemesis today…), ACE BANDAGE (first entry), TEST PAPER, ASCENSION, MOVES AWAY, STOPPED UP.

George Clinton

Dr. Funkenstein a/k/a George Clinton

The beast? Them clues! Damn you, Doug and Peter! Starting at 1-Across with the Eliza-Doolittle-challenging [Hyperbolically headlined hyperlinks]. Before I grokked click-bait, I held on far too long to a word [tbd] with a final “S” — (wrongly, but reasonably) allowing for SHA at 9-Down [Refrain snippet] (which proved to be TRA…). In fact, the whole NW proved most elusive for me and was the last portion of the puzzle to fall. [George Clinton replaced him] for Aaron Burr. Okay then. Not this George Clinton, this George Clinton. [Jupiter is found there] has nothing to do with the planet or its location in the cosmos, and all to do with this Miami-area town in Palm Beach County. [Contributed to a clutch] yields LAID. Huh? Ohhhhh, Laid an egg… Tricky [Sticker?] for KNIFE pairs up nicely with [Try to run through] and STAB AT (but please don’t stabat mater!…). [Stressful words?], not “YOUR TRAIN HAS BEEN DELAYED INDEFINITELY” but the stress-/emphasis-conferring “I REPEAT,” in advance of “Your train has been delayed indefinitely.” [Guard's activity, colloquially] for B-BALL. So not like a palace “guard,” but a hoopster. And while a SILO [...might be full of corn], today it’s CAMP (humor) that has that distinction. And that’s just the NW, folks!

There’s also:

  • [Does] for APES, as in, “In this clip, Jimmy Fallon does a great Neil Young. And Bruce. And Bob.”
  • [Scored sheet] for test paper. Had paper but didn’t know how I was gonna fit MUSIC in the four squares above it… But we do get music in the [Lets the air out?] SINGS combo, where “air” is synonymous with “song” and is not another word for “oxygen.”
  • [Grand fraction] for C-NOTE. Because $100 is a “fraction” of $1,000, one “grand.”
  • [Shot in the arm] for TONIC. So not a hypodermic, but a more metaphorical kind of booster.
  • [Its followers observe Samhain]. Felt confident about the final “A,” so, semi-confidently entered BAHÍ’Á, my go-to for a(n apparently) faith-based five-letter answer. Nupe. WICCA. Nice one.
  • [Inspiration for Orwell's Snowball] for TROTSKY, which took me right back to 8th grade and my first reading of Orwell’s Animal Farm. Remember getting to the heart of, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”? Alas, still seems to be true…
  • The sweet [Missive with kisses?] for candygram. Which, of course, brings up memories of this early SNL classic.
  • And the fabulous [Coverage providers after a recession?] for hair pieces. D’oh. For the longest time, thinking far too literally, thought this was going to be fair [somebodies].

Two items sent me to Ngram—which really is a fascinating place (imoo…). [Pay particular attention to] is KEY ON, which I didn’t even notice until after solving. But there it was. I’m more familiar with the phrase “key into,” but look which one gets more usage. Who knew? Then there’s [LCD component]. With only five squares to work with, I know it’s not LIQUID or CRYSTAL or DISPLAY. But neither is it LOWEST or COMMON or DENOMINATOR. That’s because this time it’s LEAST [common denominator]. But look which gets higher common usage this time. File under “keep an open mind.”

And that’ll do it for today. As you read this on your desk-top or lap-top or tablet, perhaps this image will remind you of what a miracle that piece of technology is:

11-D. [High-tech marvel decommissioned in 1955]

11-D. [High-tech marvel decommissioned in 1955]

Guess that term “high-tech” is all relative!

Patrick Jordan’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 06.08.14

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 06.08.14

Good morning everyone, and a happy Sunday to you!

I’m typing this blog (after just finishing the puzzle) while watching the French Open men’s final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, and I’m not sure if I’m having more fun watching this tennis match or while solving today’s puzzle. All that means is that this puzzle was really enjoyable – especially since I’m on the edge of my seat watching this tennis match right now! First thing right off the bat is the interesting DEFEATS/DEFATS intersection at the very top of the northwest (1A: [Takes down])/(1D: [Gets the lard out]). Immediately put the “DE” going down and had an inkling it was DEFATS, but I wasn’t as sure of the answer for 1A, because I initially didn’t interpret the clue as “to win/be victorious.”  After getting a couple of the down crossings relatively easily, then DEFEATS jumped out right at me.

Staying in the northwest, how good is FOLDEROL in the grid (16A: [Nonsense])? Speaking of good, I’m in the need to devour a good T-bone steak from a reputable STEAKHOUSE (23A: [Restaurant offering rare entrées]). To be honest, I haven’t had a steak in over a year, and that has to change soon!! And since I’m not a seafood eater, for the most part, don’t think I’ll be having any SCROD in my diet (27A: [Young haddock]).

Elsewhere, seeing the misnomer, PANDA BEARS, was sneakily good (48A: [Colloquialism for some bamboo munchers]). And I guess ISR is the official go-to country abbreviation in crossword puzzles, after seeing this entry about four times in the past two or three weeks of my puzzle-solving experience (42A: [Leb. neighbor]). Finally, let’s see how much of a generation gap exists between myself and some of our readers: when you see Q-TIP (36D: [Unilever swab]), do you think of the cotton swab first or the stage name of the hip-hop artist who was one of the rappers in the legendary hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest? You may or may not be a fan of hip-hop, but if you’re a fan of just great lyrics and melodic beats (and a music lover in general), get their 1991 album, The Low End Theory. It’s THAT good!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BRAKEMAN (15D: [Conductor's assistant])- In two-man and four-man bobsled, one of the people that make up the bobsled crew is the brakeman, who is mostly responsible for pulling the brake lever in the sled once the sled crosses the finish line.

Thank you so very much for your time, and I hope to see you all tomorrow!

Take care!


Henry Hook’s CRooked crossword, “P is for Puzzle” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 6/8/14 • "P is for Puzzle" • Hook • hex/hook, bg • solution

CRooked • 6/8/14 • “P is for Puzzle” • Hook • hex/hook, bg • solution

… and P is also for various other words, specifically here as the first halves of two-letter initialisms.

  • 22a. [PS] LETTER ADDITION (post script).
  • 67a. [PX] MILITARY STORE (post exchange). Post in a different sense.
  • 118a. [PC] DESKTOP MACHINE (personal computer).
  • 2d. [PM] LATE HOURS (post meridian). Post in the same sense as 22a.
  • 16d. [PT] JFK’S BOAT 109 (patrol torpedo). Rather audacious answer, dropping the numerals in so cavalierly. The crossings of the 1 and 0 are treated as I and O, whereas the 9 stays a nine—but then! the across answer with that 9 spills the numeralism over with a zero (’90S) and the crossing down answer treats that as the letter O.
  • 33d. [PA] SPEAKER SYSTEM (public address).
  • 34d. [PE] GYM CLASS (physical education).
  • 60d. [PU] “IT STINKS!” [not an initialism]. I don’t have access to the online OED, so I’ll link to a secondary source that references its discussion: Grammarphobia. Essentially, PU is a two-letter phonetic rendition of an exclamation variously spelled ‘pue’, ‘peuh’, ‘peugh’, ‘pyoo’, and ‘pew’, dating back to the early 17th century.
  • 66d. [PB] JIF OR SKIPPY (peanut butter). Those are brands and, aside from their popularity, are familiar to crossword solvers because the latter is often used to clue the former, as in [Skippy alternative]. See also 13a [Stuck] IN A JAM.
  • 85d. [PI] DETECTIVE (private investigator).
Capra nubiana

Current distribution includes only the mountainous southern regions of Oman, so it can’t be considered a ___ ___ . (©2013 Simon J. Tonge)

Unusual apportionment of the themers: a meager three acrosses and a whopping eight downs. An absence of Hook’s characteristic theme-stacking, but plenty of theme-crossing, and a tight cluster in the center.

Far from the most revelatory or amazing of themes, but it’s solid, gets the job done, and is well-executed. This sentence is here only to pad the text so that the next paragraph will start below the photograph of Capra nubiana. [addendum: Looks as if a little more padding is required, so that explains this.]

Peripatetic Assessments:

  • People I didn’t know at all: 42a [Dan of "The Wonder Years"] LAURIA; 124a [Televangelist Joel] OSTEEN; 46d [Katic of "Castle"] STANA. Hey, at least I was familiar with zitherist Anton KARAS of The Third Man fame.
  • Many French and Spanish bits throughout, but nothing particularly obscure, save possibly GARD, which is Nimes’ département.
  • Cross-references I actually liked: 103d [Comical Catherine] O’HARA, 113d [103-Down's old sketch show] SCTV; 100d [Hot time] SUMMER, 125a [Re: 100-Down] ESTIVAL. Not to be confused with Esquivel.
  • Favorite clue: 104a [Knight's backup] PIPS. Nothing to do with chess or jousting. Also, it gives me an excuse to pop this in:
  • 127a [Almondless Joys?] MOUNDS. Only if you overlook the fact that there’s also an important milk chocolate vs dark chocolate discrepancy.
  • Personal peeve: 52d [Bracelet site] ANKLE. Those are called ankletsBracelet derives from the Latin bracchium, meaning arm. Ergo, bracelets are located on arms, usually the wrists. Bracelets may also include armlets (not the oceanic kind). I realize not everyone agrees with me on this distinction.
  • Some relatively crunchy 7- and 8-stacks across the center: TIE TACK/ELECTRA; AGRARIAN/PASSIONS; EBONIES/SARGENT; COMES DUE/AVENGERS.
  • Pretend I list a bunch of abbrevs., partials, a couple of random plural names, and a smattering of crosswordese here, and that I say that there are more of these than I prefer to see, even in a 21×21 grid. Thanks.
  • 105a [Pork recipe] MU SHU. What? No “var.”? Let’s see what Google Ngrams has to say on the matter: aha!
  • 26a [1957 Jimmy Dorsey hit] SORARE. I’m thinking it’s really two words and doesn’t rhyme with Domenico Modugno’s 1958 “Volare” (“Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu”).
  • 123a [Chanel No. 5 alternative] ARPÈGE. Here’s what Luca Turin, olfactory scientist and perfume connoisseur, had to say about it in 2008:

    Arpège (Lanvin) **** unisex classic — I have long held the opinion that, much as people’s politics tend to drift rightward with age, perfumes become more masculine with time. This is partly due to the fact that most classic feminines undergo breast reduction at each reformulation, and partly due to the outrageous, borderline-slutty girliness of many modern feminines, which makes the ladylike masterpieces of an earlier age seem positively virile. Add to that the fact that most modern masculines are either fresh-woody nonentities or chemical foghorns, and you see why the discerning guy raids his grandma’s shelves. Arpège is a case in point. It was reformulated many times, both stealthily and openly, all the while claiming absolute fidelity to the original formula. Today it is an elegant, nutty, woody floral with an overall cashmere beige tonality that would be very dowdy on all but a guy. Recommended.

  • Finally, I got a kick out of the last across entry being RSVPED, with that unusual and refreshing combination.

Fine puzzle.

* Surprisingly rapid solve time, as my problematic keyboard was very recalcitrant.

Merl Reagle’s syndicated crossword, “The Homer That Never Happened”

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 6 8 14 "The Homer That Never Happened"

Merl Reagle crossword solution, 6 8 14 “The Homer That Never Happened”

The grid looks a little like a baseball diamond, and the four bases (the central square on each side of the grid) are occupied by squares that spell out MYTH. There are no exact theme entries, just a slew of baseball-related clues and answers. The explanatory notepad reads “One of the meanings of MYTH (whose letters appear in the grid, reading clockwise from the top) is “folk tale,” and that certainly describes the subject of this puzzle. Once you find it.” The clue for 134a. BETSY, [Flagmaker Ross (and, starting on the T, an 11-word quote that "runs" diagonally through the grid)], tells you where to find the mythical content. Running the basepath from home plate and returning to home plate, the diagonal diamond quote spells out “There is no joy in Mudville. Mighty Casey has struck out.”

So the large number of squares that need to be checked three ways—Across, Down, and diagonal quote or M-Y-T-H squares—accounts for the various infelicities in the fill, such as 9d. ["Look ere ___"] YE LEAP and 130a. [Hesitant words], “WELL, I.” Some of the longer fill—your PERVERSENESS and SNATCHERS—similarly fails to wow. What exactly are NEWS JOURNALS (61d. [Some magazines]), anyway? Cursory Googling isn’t telling me. I started with NEWSWEEKLIES, which is entirely familiar.

If you’re not a baseball buff (and I am not), the wealth of baseball names in the grid are of no added value. It was cute to discover that Merl had snuck a familiar 11-word phrase into the basepath in the grid, but my solving experience was mostly complete before that fillip of fun landed. So should the star rating reflect the solving experience more, or the difficulty of construction? I’ll settle on 3.75 stars.

Alan Olschwang’s syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, “You Too”

LA Times Sunday crossword solution, 6 8 14 "You Too"

LA Times Sunday crossword solution, 6 8 14 “You Too”

Phrases with at least one O have one O changed to an OU, creating new phrases that are sometimes a bit of a stretch:

  • 23a. [Being on hands and knees?], SCOURING POSITION.
  • 45a. [Follow the proverbial crowd?], VENTURE FOURTH. Eh. It’s not as if we say, “She ventured first,” so this one doesn’t really work for me.
  • 67a. [Soda fountain?], SWEET SPOUT. This one’s good.
  • 71a. [Town boor in a western capital?], SALEM’S LOUT.
  • 92a. [Auto equipment supplier?], RADIATOR HOUSE.
  • 117a. [Prescription for extremely potent medicine?], OUNCE IN A BLUE MOON. “Once in a blue moon” is in the language, yes, but “in a blue moon” doesn’t stand on its own so well and prefacing it with a volume measure is just weird. What would OUNCE IN A BLUE MOON mean, exactly? Could you prescribe 180 mg in a blue moon? It’s nonsensical.
  • 14d. [One hyping the spud industry?], TATER TOUT. Is it just me, or do the rest of you encounter TOUT as a noun primarily in crosswords?
  • 78d. [Court case involving a British tennis player and a rake?], ROUE V. WADE. Virginia Wade, tennis star who was active during the Roe v. Wade era.

Like his LA Times daily crossword colleague Jack McInturff, Alan Olschwang tends to have a lot of what I consider crosswordese in his grids. I knew what was in store right from 1-Across on: [Bar stock] is the plural RYES, and plural RYES tends to be awkward (like 11d: ANISES). ARIL SRI ALIT ALEE STETS ILIA MOUE NISEI … more in that vein.

Did not know 96d. [Alaska Panhandle city], HAINES. Population 2,500. If you’ve never heard of the place either, I absolve you.

2.9 stars from me. The theme didn’t always work well for me, and the fill left me lukewarm.

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26 Responses to Sunday, June 8, 2014

  1. John says:

    I think Across Lite is trying to tell me the correct answer is SKIP TO MY LOO instead of SKIP TO MY LOU. SKIP TO MY LOO is a pretty good theme answer idea for some other puzzle though.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Yep, that’s a mistake. Hopefully it’s been fixed by now.

      • Christopher Smith says:

        I had the same problem using the new app last night. Also it was OK with just the straight answers, ie, no X’s, for some reason. Great puzzle though.

    • Papa John says:

      From Wikipedia: “The “loo” in the title is the Scottish word for “love.” The spelling change from “loo” to “lou” probably happened as Anglo-Americans, and the song, became Americanized.”

  2. Huda says:

    NYT: I loved how easily if flowed, especially after discovering the theme. So little junk, so many ways to come at each answer. A very enjoyable puzzle. Not surprisingly…

  3. Avg Solvr says:

    Many hours later and still getting a chuckle with SkipToMyLox.

    Great clue for HAIRPIECE in the Post Puzzler which is always a good puzzle.

  4. Paul Coulter says:

    I just did the Reagle, and to be honest, I’m not usually a fan, but this one was terrific. Great execution of the theme, a nicely visual grid reminiscent of a baseball diamond, a very apt quote running along the base paths, and very little junky fill. The MYTH element worked well to form the bases, I thought. I also appreciated the many baseball related entries Merl worked into his fill.

    • Margaret says:

      I also liked the baseball heavy Reagle. I appreciated the visual of the diamond-shaped quote even though I knew I’d be looking for Casey just from the title.

      Thanks for the absolution on HAINES in the LAT, it was a complete unknown.

  5. David L says:

    I’m mystified by your enthusiasm for the NYT today. I couldn’t make any sense of the theme as I was solving, because the correct answers in the grid refer to the clues that are crossed out (I solved on paper). I realized at some point that replacing one of the letters with an X made the answers fit with the ‘funny’ clue, but those answers conflicted with the down crossings. I didn’t realize until coming here that the crossed out letters spell ‘crossed out,’ which is ingenious but opaque.

    So, uh, what? I feel as if I’m missing something. To me, the puzzle seems as if it’s based on a clever idea that didn’t quite pan out.

    • Papa John says:

      I was composing my message while you were posting yours. I think we’re of the same mind on this one

      Across Lite messed with so much I wasn’t able to parse the theme at all. Why? Because the correct answer given by Across Lite for the first theme included the rebus CX, while all the other themes didn’t include the X. Since the name of the puzzles is “Strike One”, I was thinking it had something to do with the first theme answer being the only one that was XED (out).

      Am I making myself clear? Aside from the first theme answer, I simply filled in the answer to the crossed out parts of the clues. For example; the first part of the clue at 38 Across reads “[*cross out* Star Wars character]” and I filled in ARTOODETOO – with no rebus X—and Across Lite accepts that as correct. As I said, this was true with all the themes, except the first one. The rebus X simply wasn’t necessary for a correct solve.

      It’s a baffling set of circumstances, made even more confusing because I had no idea what kind of “punctuation” the two asterisks around “cross out” in each theme clue meant. I still don’t.

      How or why anyone would have kept tally of the letters that were XED, as Amy did, is beyond me. Was there hint to do this somewhere along the way and I missed it?

      The rest of the puzzle seemed about average for a Sunday, perhaps even leaning toward the easy side. Without the distraction of the theme, much of which is due to the limitations of Across Lite and not the puzzle per se, I would give this one about a 3.5. I might boost that up a bit if I was as sensitive to crosswordese as Amy is, because there was little of that, but I think there was still plenty of old standbys, in both the cluing and the fill. (I’m looking at you, MAAM, ABCS, AHA, OSLO, IOTA, IOU, ODE, LEES, AGARS, MRI, DRJ, LOO, SHOO, INGE,REMO, UKE, LSAT and the topper, XED. That’s among only the across fills. It may not literally be crosswordese, but it is a lot of detritus.)

      I would lower that 3.5 rating because of the complexity and frustration of the theme, but I can’t say it’s the puzzle fault, as much as it is the software, so I’ll stick to 3.5.

      So, how was this handled in the print edition? I suspect most folks entered the rebus letters in each theme answer or, perhaps Xed (out) the letter in that square. (I put the “out” in parentheses because I don’t believe XED can stand on its own, as in the revealer at 128 Across. the phrase is “Xed out”, which is merely short hand for “crossed out”.)

      [Sorry if my message is as confounding as the theme was. There was a lot to unravel.]

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Ah, but if you had done this in the newspaper, you would have had a different experience, no? You might well have circled the letters that would change to an X for the goofy clue.

        I can’t imagine why an MRI, the ABCS, IOU, MA’AM, SHOO, AHA, and DR. J are to be considered “detritus.” They’re short, but these are all things that are thriving outside of the crossword grid.

    • Brucenm says:

      Agree 100% and frankly was waiting for someone else to coattail on. To me the great PB I (and I mean that seriously, not ironically) struck out here. It’s a “gimmick” puzzle in the pejorative sense, where it was clever but irrelevant to the solving — just tacked on to the puzzle, not really integrated into it, and when I finally did figure out what was going on (*after* finishing it) my reaction was “So What.”

  6. golfballman says:

    Great write up pannonica. I would however take exception to popov being an alternative to stoli. Stoli is much more expensive than Popov.

    • pannonica says:

      In truth I considered mentioning that, but decided that a lesser alternative is still technically an alternative.

    • Brucenm says:

      But then you can always buy one bottle of Grey Goose, or whatever, and then refill it with Popov. I doubt if anyone would notice.

  7. Bencoe says:

    I wonder if this Post Puzzler is the puzzle Dan F. mentioned test solving a few weeks ago when we were discussing the trendiness of “CLICKBAIT” as an entry.

  8. ahimsa says:

    NYT: Loved it! Not only lots of fun while solving but also very impressive that the 10 letters XED out spelled CROSSED OUT in order. That detail, which I did not notice at all until after I was finished solving the puzzle, made it outstanding.

    @Papa John, I can’t answer why I would look at the letters crossed out to see what they were. I just did. Some probably even noticed it during the solve but I didn’t notice until afterwards.

    I solved on the computer today instead of on paper. I do prefer the way the clues looked with the strikethrough format as seen in the PDF version. But I got the idea behind the theme just fine from the way the clues were displayed in the PUZ file.

    The way the puzzle title works, I think, is that the solver should “strike one” letter, i.e., cross out one letter by writing an X over it. That changes an answer which matches the first clue, which is crossed out, into an answer that matches the second clue.

    • Papa John says:

      Yeah, yeah, I got all that. The problem came up when Across Lite didn’t agree with the rebus squares.

      I thought the puzzle was on the easy side, including the themes. Like I said, I simply solved with the first parts of theme clues and ignored the second part. Since I’m not a huge fan of puns, I wasn’t much interested in how the X created those punny fills. It was easy enough to see them without actually having to X out anything. With the exception of that first theme, Across Lite apparently felt the same way, because, as Amy said, it didn’t like the rebus fills and noted them as incorrect. That’s actually the right way to view those mysterious rebus squares. Xing out a letter does not replace that letter with an X. It merely crossing it out.

      • ahimsa says:

        I like puns so obviously that made it fun for me. And I didn’t mind it being easy. :-)

        I use different solving software called BlackInk (for Macs) and it didn’t do what you mentioned. E.g., at 23 Across it required SMILEYFA[CX]ES for a correct solution. It did not accept either SMILEYFACES or SMILEYFAXES. It also did not accept SMILEYFA[C/X]ES (I checked).

        I thought Amy’s write-up said AcrossLite did want both letters but required a slash between them? “Apparently the electronic puzzle expected me to provide the original letter and the X separated by a slash, but that looks silly if you ask me. “

        It’s true that SMILEYFA[CX]ES is also not quite right. It does not show the X actually on top of the C ( e.g., see ). But it was good enough for me.

        I’d love to be using Puzzazz software since it seems to work so well with a lot of different crossword tricks. But I don’t own any device (iPhone, iPod, iPad) that will run that software.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          I use Black Ink too. The .puz format is ridiculously constrained. No italics, for one, much less bold or strikethrough text. No ability to handle diagonal clues or nonstandard square numbering. Limited options for acceptable rebus answers.

          The NYT’s web version of the puzzle used the slashes.

          If you own an Android device, you may be waiting a long, long time for Puzzazz to be ported to that platform. And if you don’t have any mobile devices period, then no, that mobile app won’t work for you!

          • ahimsa says:

            Sorry for the very late reply but thank you for your response!

            My joke is that I’m not very mobile so there’s no need for any smart mobile devices. I only have a cheapo flip-phone for when I go out and a laptop that I use at home. But maybe one day I’ll get an iPad.

  9. Tuning Spork says:

    117a. [Prescription for extremely potent medicine?], OUNCE IN A BLUE MOON. “Once in a blue moon” is in the language, yes, but “in a blue moon” doesn’t stand on its own so well and prefacing it with a volume measure is just weird. What would OUNCE IN A BLUE MOON mean, exactly? Could you prescribe 180 mg in a blue moon? It’s nonsensical.

    Blue Moon is a brand of beer. So, one ounce of medicine in a 12oz bottle of Blue Moon would be a potent dose.

  10. pannonica says:

    Solution to caption puzzle: MUSCAT IBEX, formed by rearranging the letters paired with the Ps in the CRooked theme answers. Also, the other image is an aerial view of the Bronx’s Mosholu Parkway, which moo shoo/mu shu pork always reminds me of.

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