I pulled out 12D One hell of a writer?: DANTE because this year’s theme for the Magic Castle is Dante’s Inferno. Well, it’s Dante’s Inferno II because the theme a decade ago was regular Dante’s Inferno, and a fire did break out, and it was bad.
But this year they have a specialty drink called El Diablo, and it comes with an awesome souvenir cup.
The title of this puzzle is Sports Nuts.
22A Your ex’s new date whom you just can’t stand?: OFFENSIVEREBOUND. 34A Kegels, e.g.?: FLOOREXERCISE. 51A First square of a crossword?: STARTINGBLOCK. 68A “I’ll be your waiter tonight,” e.g.?: SERVICELINE. 82A Conspiracy theory so wild that it can’t be aired?: UNPLAYABLELIE.
96A Plan to leave at a very specific evening time?: SEVENTENSPLIT. I learned in college the theory of how to knock down both pins. I’ve tried but haven’t been successful. I also rarely get the opportunity. 114A Blackjack dealer?: DESIGNATEDHITTER.
I spent much of this day on my newest project that I’ll document in my weekly woodworking blog that drops every Tuesday at 10am PT. When the time changes after Halloween, it still will be at 10am PT, but t will be PST rather than PDT. I don’t know why we don’t have PDT for forever like we’d told the California legislature that we approve them to do.
I pulled out 76D Abacus piece: BEAD because I thoroughly enjoy the Arrested Development gag.
The title of this puzzle is Common Core. Because teaching to a test is always the way to make sure students learn, but if there are no standards, how do we make sure things don’t go off the rails? I’m just glad that I don’t have to make education policy. I’m sure that Joy Resmovits has more to say on this topic.
23A Meaningful work?: ROGETSTHESAURUS. Until I was in my early 20s, I thought that Roget was pronounced as written. Like Rodget’s. During a discussion with my dad, I said something about Roget’s (pronounced Rodget’s) Thesaurus, and he started to ridicule me. As this is an infrequent activity of his, I was confused as to why. “I’ts pronounced ro-ZHAY.” I didn’t believe him because why would that be? These are English words. But it was ro-ZHAY all along. 36A Ballet supporter, e.g.: PATRONOFTHEARTS. I know ballet is hard to do, but I know that I want to go to the ballet. I’d rather support the magical arts. 63A Present without being present: THEREINSPIRIT. Good name for a Halloween-themed band. 87A Ritzy transports: CHARTEREDPLANES. I want to take a private jet one day. I don’t want to pay for it, but maybe I’ll get to go on a trip with someone? 106A You wouldn’t want them to have a crush on you: BOACONSTRICTORS. This reminds me of a thing that was brought to my attention by William Goldman’s book Which Lie Did I Tell? More Adventures in the Screen Trade:
Okay. This is from a supposed U.S. Government Peace Corps manual. It is given to volunteers who work in the Amazon jungle. It tells what to do if an anaconda attacks you. In case you don’t know much about them, maybe this will help: they are the largest snakes in the world, they can grow to thirty-five feet, can weigh four hundred pounds.
This is what the manual said:
1. If you are attacked by an anaconda, do not run. The snake is faster than you are.
2. Lie flat on the ground. Put your arms tight against your sides, your legs tight against one another.
3. Tuck your chin in.
4. The snake will come and begin to nudge and climb over your body.
5. Do not panic.
6. After the snake has examined you, it will begin to swallow you from the feet. Permit the snake to swallow your feet and ankles. Do not panic!
7. The snake will now begin to suck your legs into its body. You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time.
8. When the snake has reached your knees, slowly and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take your knife and very gently slide it into the snake’s mouth between the edge of its mouth and your leg. Then suddenly rip upwards, severing the snake’s head.
I pulled out 43A Tax pro, for short: CPA because I’m a CPA and I do not do tax. I knew when I went into financial accounting that people would ask me tax questions and that people would not remember that I do not do tax. It has panned out that. Some people don’t even believe that I don’t do tax. Some say, “But you used to, right?” The answer to that always is no.
The title of this puzzle is Clue: The Movie.
23A Field of Dreams: PSYCHOANALYSIS. 38A Star Trek: THEREDCARPET. 50A Top Gun: TSHIRTGUN. How are those always awesome? 66A Letters From Iwo Jima: KANJI. 67A The Imitation Game: SIMONSAYS. 69A The Fifth Element: BORON. 84A A Man for All Seasons: BINGEWATCHER. OK, so Calah and I started watching Squid Game, and it’s sooooooooo slooooooooooooooooow. It was described to me as a Netflix show in Korean rather than a K-drama. We’re not even halfway through the show yet, but the formula tends to be that they telegraph what’s going to happen, the obvious thing happens, and then they remind you of the thing that just happened. That way you never fall behind. Or have to think. Or pay attention the whole way through. It’s not a popular opinion, but still. 97A Scent of a Woman: CHANELNOFIVE. 113A Wayne’s World: GOTHAM. Bruce Wayne. 114A Space Jam: FLYMETOTHEMOON. And let me play on the red carpet?
I pulled out 25D Generational divide: AGEGAP because it reminds me of a show that had been on Netflix: Age Gap Love. If you didn’t watch it, here’s a little bit:
At the time it was on Netflix, I told a coworker about it. She pulled Netflix up on her computer, and I guided her to the show. She didn’t care for it and didn’t want it in her Continue Watching section. She then errantly continued to take my advice and advanced to the end of each episode with the logic that Netflix would no longer remind her of all the wrinkly people. However, she really just told Netflix that she went through the series very quickly and wanted lots of content similar to the show she had just devoured.
The title of this puzzle is Snoozefest. Lots of Z’s. How hard could it be? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!
18A Harriet’s partner on 1950s-’60s TV: OZZIE. 22A Inaptly named bear of a tongue twister: FUZZYWUZZY.
28A Winter weather hazard: FREEZINGDRIZZLE. That sounds horrible. 37A Get closer and closer: ZEROIN. A sugar-fee drug! 42A Transfixed: AGAZE. 45A Ostentatious display: RAZZLEDAZZLE. 63A Final creature encountered in “Dr. Seuss’s ABC”: ZIZZERZAZZERZUZZ. 85A Sportscaster Jim with the classic opening “Hello, friends”: NANTZ. 86A Opportunities to win a vacation on “Wheel of Fortune”: PRIZEPUZZLES. 91A Actress Ana of “Love, Victor”: ORTIZ. 93A Bistro sign word: CHEZ. Also a lounge sign word. 101A “Which Disney Princess Are You?” and the like: BUZZFEEDQUIZZES. 107A Eye shade: HAZEL. Like my wife‘s eyes. 113A Conflagration: BLAZE. 116A Popeye creator Segar: ELZIE. 2D Côte d’_: AZUR. Calah read A Year in Provence to me. 3D Nickname for Isabelle or Isidore: IZZY. Awful clue. Really, really bad. 4D Fashion designer Lange: LIZ. 7D Rattles: FAZES. 8D Opposite of flatness: FIZZ. FizzBuzz, am I right? Some of you know what I’m talking about. 12D Many a collaboration between Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald: JAZZDUET. 14D Spanish composer Isaac: ALBENIZ. 30D Nintendo princess: ZELDA. 31D Order of roses: DOZEN. 34D Kilt-wearing Greek infantryman: EVZONE. 37D Chain that sells chains: ZALES. 39D Levels: RAZES. 40D Old fogy: GEEZER. 43D Partner of glamour: GLITZ. 46D _ garden: ZEN. 47D When repeated, one of the Gabor sisters: ZSA. 50D Mercedes-_: BENZ. 54D Stupor: DAZE. 57D Pac-Man navigates through one: MAZE. 58D Wood-shaping tool: ADZ. 61D Six-Day War leader Weizman: EZER. 63D Unsightly spot: ZIT. 65D Counterfeit: ERSATZ. 67D Having some pep: ZINGY. 73D Nervous state: TIZZY. 75D Football sideline reporter Kolber: SUZY. 76D Brand of pretzels and chips: UTZ. 81D Pointy-eared dog: SPITZ. 82D Big name in car parts: AUTOZONE. Get in the zone. 87D Victoria Falls river: ZAMBEZI. 99D Pound and others: EZRAS. 100D Worshiper of the rain god Tlaloc: AZTEC. 104D Eleven, en français: ONZE. 109D Country music’s _ Brown Band: ZAC.
111A Quick nap … or a playful description of the 64-Down here: FORTYWINKS. 64D Sleep indicators: ZEES.
In case you’re wondering, I showed my coworker how to delete an item from watch history so no recommendations would be made from having gotten to the end of every episode of Age Gap Love.
I pulled out 82A “What in the …!”: SONOFA because I figured this answer out with only the first letter filled out. I thought it an absurd answer, but based on how the NYTXW goes, it was worth keeping in.
The title of this puzzle is Study Breaks.
21A Function whose output is 45° when applied to 1: ARCTANGENT. Shown as AR(C)TANGENT. 26A Premium membership designation: ELITESTATUS. Shown as ELITESTAT(U)S. 42A It lets you see the sites: INTERNETCONNECTION. Shown as INTERNE(T)CONNECTION. 60A Holders of multiple passports: DUALCITIZENS. Shown as DUAL(C)ITIZENS. 74A First openly lesbian anchor to host a major prime-time news program: RACHELMADDOW. Shown as RACHE(L)MADDOW. 92A Ones fighting for change: POLITICALACTIVISTS. Shown as POLITICAL(A)CTIVISTS. 108A Hempseed product: CANNABISOIL. Shown as CANNABI(S)OIL. 119A Bringing up the rear: LASTINLINE. Shown as LA(S)TINLINE.
I pulled out 63A Relative of cerulean: AZURE because I got it immediately, and I’m proud of that. Hooray for blues!
Pantone named Cerulean the color of 2000/color of the millennium. They really cut it fine waiting until 2000 to choose it. But that’s smarter than calling the murder of Stanford White the Crime of the Century back in 1906.
The title of this puzzle is New Look.
23A Meticulous magical beings?: THOROUGHFAIRIES. Just because you’re winging it doesn’t mean you can’t do a good job. 32A Like some cross-Caribbean flights?: PANAMAHAITI. The first of two headwear clues. More on that a little later. 50A Journals of a certain stunt performer?: DOUBLEDIARIES. A better clue would have been Journals of certain game show contestants? 68A Possible reason for refusing to wear a tank top?: SHOULDERHAIRINESS. Nothing to be ashamed of. Be who you are. 85A Means of learning about Chiang Kai-shek?: BOOKSONTAIPEI. Checks out. 99A Inept dancers at Oktoberfest?: POLKAIDIOTS. So true!
116A New look provider … or a homophonic hint to this puzzle’s theme: FRESHPAIROFEYES. Because they’re other phrases when you remove the I’s.
I pulled out 121A Makes less powerful, in video game slang: NERFS because it’s a term I first heard years ago when playing Madden NFL Mobile. I used to play that game all the time. I was in a league that got mad when you didn’t do all your drives and stuff. It was super intense. Then they made the game way more interactive with live play, and it started to feel like what they had done with real Madden. I mean I really liked the game back in the 2000s, but when they started to get super duper technical with every single play and with how elaborate the audible calling was, it just stopped being fun for me. Also they messed with the controls, and when I wanted to cut left with L1 and cut right with R1, I ended up pitching the ball with one of them. I didn’t really want to learn new controls when the old ones were so intuitive.
Title Theme: What a Character!
Rather than go through every single clue that contains a circled letter, here’s what they were:
SEMI and COLON in the shape of a semicolon.
HYPHEN in the shape of a hyphen.
PARENTHESIS in the shape of a close parens.
27A Any of the groupings of circled letters in this puzzle: PUNCTUATIONMARK. 67A One of two in a jack-o’-lantern?: HYPHEN. Because there are two hyphens in the name of that carved pumpkin. 112A How to see the image formed by this puzzle’s circled letters: ROTATECLOCKWISE. 115A What’s formed by the circled letters in this puzzle: SMILEYFACE.
NO! 😉 is not a smiley face. It is a winky face. At least get it right!
I’m also a little disappointed that the puzzle didn’t automatically fill in the dots of the emoticon. I had to do it all by myself in Snip & Sketch.
I pulled out 73A Santa-tracking org.: NORAD because I have fun on Christmas Eve with the NORAD Santa Tracker up in one tab and the Google Maps Santa thing in another tab. They don’t even approximate one another. My feeling is that Google doesn’t actually know where Santa is and is just crawling the web and using data from other people who claim to have seen the sleigh. If enough people from a specific geo report that at the same time, up on the map it goes! My real favorite part of Christmas eve is the Yule Log show. The log just burns and burns on my TV. And then it ends.
The theme of this puzzle was yet another pun stretch. And it was underwhelming.
22A Beams of one’s dreams?: FANTASYSUPPORTS. Because fantasy sports is a real phrase. Now, as Calah was falling asleep recently, I asked her a question, and she chuckled and said with a big smile, “I just saw lightning in my dream.” Can’t argue with that! 33A Visit a museum to see a Rembrandt exhibit?: GOFORBOROQUE. Big setup for negligible payout. Which I guess is the downside of going for broke. Gg, Dory. 49A Bird of prey that’s gently petted?: FALCONCARESSED. Falcon Crest. Dumb. And dangerous.
67A Actor Justin sitting poolside?: THEROUXINTHETOWEL. Dory should have thrown in the towel way earlier on this. 86A Make fun of small orange fruits?: DERIDEAPRICOTS. Too many dried apricots will have you respecting these things for the rest of time. 102A Mashed potatoes, on a Thanksgiving plate?: GRAVYTERRAIN. Gravy train and a mountain of mash. It’s just so painful. 116A Fourth-quarter meltdown at an N.B.A. game in Oklahoma City?: THUNDERCOLLAPSE. Thunder claps. But who can forget the Adam Morrison breakdown with Gonzaga and UCLA?
I pulled out 97D Apps made with jalapeños and cheese: POPPERS because I like them. Calah doesn’t, but maybe she’ll change. She says she won’t because they’re too spicy, but she also made some lentils or something a while ago that used like a cup and a half of chili powder.
Today’s puzzle was a puzzle!
27A “First, you’re going to want to dump out the box and _“: PICKUPTHEPIECES. 40A “What’s most useful next is to _“: GOOVERTHEEDGE. 57A “To connect things up you’ll have to _“: PLAYWITHMATCHES. 83A “As you go, make sure you exercise your _“: FREEDOMOFASSEMBLY. 93A “With patience and perseverance you’re sure to _“: GETITTOGETHER.
These are all puzzle-related clues for the puzzle whose gray squares come together to make the phrase PICTURE PERFECT MOMENT.