Tuesday, December 20, 2022 - Erik Agard

Posted by admin on


Jon Stewart once said of USA Today puzzles, "I will solve [it] but I don't feel good about myself." [cite: Wordplay trailer]

If you don't know, today's constructor, Erik Agard (ironically, no Os in his name), is a 3-time Jeopardy! (and the 2018 ACPT) champ and, as now-editor of USA Today's x-word, has really upped-the-game for that paper's puzzle.

Jon Stewart's gonna need to revisit his comment. //The floor is yours, good sir. :-)
Read a little about Erik [WikiP]. For more, just Google him.

I'm not a big fan of names in puzzles but, um, that's the core of the theme!
All but one name was totally unknown, so that's fair(ish). Today's offering presents fresh clues for stale fill [see: RENO] and, while I'm still just an apprentice, I can appreciate the build.

A look at the O-Dudes first:

1a. *Fictional swordfighter with a horse named Tornado: ZORRO.
ZORRO was my first thought, but I wanted omega for 1d (always check the perps, people) and I started trying to remember Three Musketeers' (and the horses' they rode in on) names.

20a. *"Parasite" director: BONG JOON-HO. I'll be honest, all perps and I had to Google how to parse the good director's name. I'm not much for movies much less who was in them (unless they're comedies - then I'm all over that).
Bong Joon-ho is a South Korean film director, producer and screenwriter. The recipient of four Academy Awards, his filmography is characterized by emphasis on social themes, genre-mixing, black humor, and sudden tone shifts. [WikiP]. #Learning!

The guy's got Bling

31a. *Abolitionist who was the first person executed for treason in the United States: JOHN BROWN. The nuns at St. Joe's taught us this song [Pete Seeger's version] in kindergarten.

40a. *Former MLB pitcher nicknamed "Flash": TOM GORDON. I'm sure Boomer (R.I.P.) had this card.

52a. *Marvel supervillain who created deadly robot clones of himself: DOCTOR DOOM. Yeah, that guy.

66a. What one might say after figuring out what the answers to the starred clues have in common?: OH, MAN.

See? Men with only O(h)s in their name.
A nice Tuesday puzzle with a bit of learning. What's not to like?
And now, for the rest of the grid:

1. [See: theme].

6. Weight: HEFT.

10. Early aughts music buys: CDS. More O's, er, zerO's. The early aughts (2000's) - when one could still hear, and buy(!), music without autotune.

13. French bottled water brand: EVIAN. You pay for that water; I'll just drink it out of the tap and save my cash.

14. At any point: EVER. Did you EVER? [That Dog (I had this on CD)]

15. "Go bother someone else!": SHOO. Ooo!, more Os.

16. Midterms and finals: TESTS. Wait, I was supposed to remember stuff after syllabus-day? Oy!

17. Largest city in Washoe County, Nevada: RENO. Washoe County is named for the Washoe people who were there first.

Washoe County

18. Hard precipitation: HAIL. Hail storms - not fun for your car's finish nor windshield.

19. "Rules __ rules": ARE. Them's the breaks (if you're caught breakin' them :-))

20. [See: theme]

22. Leisurely walk: STROLL. Ah, finally, time to slow down and think about stuff...

Jack Handey

25. __ football: ARENA. Not to be confused with the NFL - WikiP will tell you.

26. Promises of eventual repayment: I.O.U.S. My Amex bill come January.

28. Health product chain: GNC. General Nutrition Center. They sell nutrients you could just get from eating real food. 'Nuff said.

29. Holiday lead-in: EVE. Christmas will be led in with one (lasagna dinner at Pop's!). So will New Years. And then there's Amex-bill eve.

31. [See: theme]

35. Smart __: know-it-all: ALEC. Trebek! Oh, wait, that was Alex...

36. Bring to mind: EVOKE. Well, you see what Smart ALEC brought to (my) mind :-)

37. Aussie animal, for short: ROO. Also, a Jr. in Milne's wonderful stories.

38. Deceive: LIE TO. Would I Lie to You? [Eurythmics]

39. __ ex machina: DEUS. Gods from (in?) the machine.

40. [See: theme]

42. Form 1099 org.: IRS. April will be here before we know it.

43. Org. concerned with toxins: EPA. 'Concern' seems to depend on the administration.

45. Ohio border lake: ERIE.

46. Completely stop: CEASE.

48. Formally charge: INDICT. Someone is getting time for something, maybe.

52. [See: Theme]

56. Female pig: SOW. See also: 23d & 38d.

57. Masjid prayer leader: IMAM. I like the specificity of the clue - better than the generic "Muslim leader" or some such.

58. Cut, as grass: MOWN. I don't think I saw this clue while solving but I'd have missed past-tense for "cut" for a bit, I'm sure.

59. Throb: PULSE.

61. Slippery fish: EELS. I like the fish-plural here.

62. Not doing anything: IDLE. Me doing this expo? //I should really start the wash.

63. Quartz type: AGATE.

64. Internet access option: DSL. My backup to fiber. What do y'all use to get on-line?

65. Throw in the trash: TOSS. And then dig it out ala éclair.

George eats from the bin

66. [See: theme]

1. Greek Z's: ZETAS. I was thinking, "English alphabet end equivalent to the Greek alphabet end" and nearly entered Omega.

Greek Alphabet

2. Not veiled: OVERT. Or, "not the bride"(?)

3. Platform on a stage: RISER. Stage(s) above the stage. Eldest sang in choir - I was sure at least one of those kids were going to fall off the riser.

4. Zodiac rodent: RAT.

Chinese Zodiac Calendar

5. Add-__: extras: ONs.

6. Day saver: HERO.

Dudley Do Right

7. Balanced: EVEN. Karma always evens it out in the end.

8. __ shui: FENG. One of DW's BFFs warned us not to buy our old house because of it's feng shui: "Money will just run out the front door." I don't know if there's anything to her Vietnamese wisdom but,... we did spend a ton of money fixing the foundation :-(

9. USC athlete: TROJAN. The J was my last fill. [see: 12/10's LAT "SEC" clue for my (lack of) NCAA divisions knowledge :-)]

10. Did an uncanny impression of: CHANNELED. When a comedian can really CHANNEL someone...

Rich Little channels Carson and Rickles

11. Slumped-shoulders response to a task: DO I HAVE TO? Yes, and have it on my desk by 8am.

12. Unaccompanied: SOLO.

15. Sneaker, e.g.: SHOE. I was hoping for a reference to the old hacker movie.

A burglar, a spy, a fugitive, a delinquent, a hacker, and a piano teacher...
And those are the good guys.

20. Indistinct memory: BLUR. Some weeks are all a BLUR.

21. Fantasy creature: ORC. J.R.R. Tolkien and every D&D game I played. Nasty little buggers, them.

23. Pig talk: OINKS. Not Latin?

Not Peppa

24. Dangling ear part: LOBE.

27. "In a sense, I guess": SORTA. ish.

28. Small garden party?: GNOME. The little ornaments protecting your garden (or stealing your underwear!)

Forbes Explains

30. Class studying demand curves, for short: ECON. Supply and demand (expectations) over time. Quants have fun with these.

31. "Star Wars" knights: JEDI. May The Force be with you (and also with you).

32. Gets past: OVERCOMES. Some things, like Catholic school, are hard to overcome. [see: above ;-)]

33. In-home appointment: HOUSE CALL. A relic of the past come back to being by Tele-Docs. One plus of the pandemic(?).

34. "Wow, this rocks!": WOO! I wanted 'Rad', MAN.

35. Broadcast: AIRED.

38. Meat cut: LOIN.

No sows were harmed in this image

41. Not looking good: GRIM. Dark clouds hang over... #O-MEN

43. That, in Spanish: ESO.

44. Allow: PERMIT. A six-year-old in CA is the first to get a Unicorn Permit. //read the whole story - it's the kind of 'feel-good' we all need.

47. Dispensers of 20s: ATMS. Cute. I read 'of THE 20's' and had tommy-guns in my head for a moment.

49. Five Pillars faith: ISLAM.

50. __ Rica: COSTA.

Middle America?

51. Preadolescent: TWEEN. Almost there, kid. Just a little bit of more of the world (and, apparently, curse words) to learn before you're 13.

52. Ran out of battery: DIED. Some afternoons are like that.  Nap time!

53. Extinct bird: DODO. Hand-up if you remember our dear DoDo here at The Corner.

54. Nocturnal birds: OWLS. I like the feathered-friends side-by-side.

55. Singles: ONES. Not something ATMS offer.

59. Kung __ chicken: PAO.


60. "Blech": UGH. Um, yep.

The Grid:
Erik's Grid

WO: exams -> TESTS

Erik, it was a pleasure breaking-down and making silly comments about your puzzle. I look forward to more LATs from you (yeah, I know you have a day job). Thanks for the puzzle!

Well, there you have it folks. Another expo in the books. I hope y'all enjoy'd the puzzle and my little fun with it.
Now it's your turn - gimme your $0.02.

Cheers, -T

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →