“Choice Words”

by Parker Higgins & Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution] Difficulty 3.75/5

We’re trying something just a skosh different this week, so if today’s puzzle looks familiar, bear with. We generated the theme–and in fact built out a whole grid–on last Thursday’s Cursewords stream. After you’ve solved, feel free to head over there and watch the video of how it all came together. As we note on the stream, we generally like to take a lot longer than 25 minutes to come up with a grid architecture and fill. The work we do live is largely illustrative/educational in nature, which is why we went ahead and started from scratch off-camera and produced the grid you see posted here. That said, special shout-out to the Cursewords Live crew for contributing material. Nate, Lyle, Quiara and many others were instrumental to the process!

And ICYMI, Parker and I also co-wrote the Thursday 6/16 New York Times puzzle. Give it solve and let us know what you think! You’ll also be able to solve a Parker solo grid if you sign up for the 2022 Boswords Tournament, at which he is a featured constructor!

Warm thanks to Megan and Matt for test solving today’s grid. A couple thoughts and spoilers for “Choice Words” below!

fell off the decision tree and hit every branch going down

It occurred to me after we stopped streaming the other night that OUTDOOR POOL deviates from a pattern that went unmentioned. Namely, that each of the other themers builds off a verb + or- suffix base, where as the DO in OUT DO OR POOL is incidentally formed by lopping off the -or. In any case, we were enthusiastic enough about the found poetry of the example that I feel good about including it nonetheless!

Everything else I really want to say about this puzzle’s theme you can hear us saying in real time and much detail on the Cursewords VOD. I do want to give Parker a shout-out for a few of his cluing angles, including the Lifelock CEO’s social security number in the clue for SSNs (worth the read). Also, kudos to Parker for really committing to an identity. I don’t think we’ve ever made a puzzle together into which he didn’t slip at least one “Star Trek” reference, and [Title for Patrick Stewart (on- or off-set)] for SIR is pretty ding dang on brand. Keep beating that horse, Parker. (“HE’S DEAD, JIM.”)

Happy solving, friends!


15 thoughts on ““Choice Words”

  1. Hi, Ross. I can usually reverse-engineer the more enigmatic clues that have me scratching my head when I luck on the answer, but this week, I’ll admit, 57A plumb eludes me. Nonetheless, an enjoyable diversion for a Sunday morning. Thanks heaps, youse two.

      • Thanks, sps. I get it now, but for thirty years, when I gave a 75 on an assignment or a course, it was the floor of a “beeplus,” revised about ten years ago to a mid-range “bee.” Maybe a different numerical clue would have worked for me, like “100, on the Tiber.”

  2. Thanks for this – one of the best parts of puzzling is being exposed to facts I didn’t know before – thus I went down a couple enjoyable Google rabbit-holes this morning learning about 51D (by jove I think I’ve got it), 23D (someone still needs to explain to me why social media is of any benefit to humanity) and 34D (that’s a thing?). Nit in 4D, clue should probably be “Like (with ‘to’)”. Have a nice weekend everyone.

    • Hope you had a nice weekend yourself, Rich! I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to be the one to describe any of social media’s redeeming qualities to you… it still always seems like a net negative to me. (Says the guy who gets much of his web traffic from Twitter…)

    • Thanks for saying so, Carl! We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the Thursday grid, and I’m forwarding every last stitch of it to Parker. It was his *debut* Times puzzle!

  3. Really enjoyed this one! I often complain when I find something objectionable – it’s time to give out the kudos too when they’re deserved.

  4. For 23A I put in TOP (The Big Top was a big deal when I was a kid….now I am not sure there is such a thing as a circus except for the Vegas acts…) Had to revise that, so I thought BIG TEN (which I’ve heard of, sorta)….so that was a Fail. The correct answer was SO much better! Delighted me enough to soften the blow. I do not get MID as slang….middling? Oh well. And 75 for CEE? Sorry, but 70% was an F when I was in HS, so No. (I just had the 3/4th Century birthday; I should get Extra Credit.) Great puzzle theme…a LARK!

    • Hi, Elaine — glad you liked! Parker wrote the clue for MID, which I’ll admit was also new usage for me. Googling suggests it’s well-attested! Thanks for solving, as always!

  5. Beautiful! The clues — especially the theme clues — are astoundingly cool and funny…thank you so much.

    Kelly <—still cracking up at 37 A 🙂

    • l Ioved watching you and Parker create this. Thank you. Small point, but 9d doesn’t really work. The resort spells out the first word (not abbreviated). Keep these coming our way!

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