Freestyles 64 and 65 by Tim Croce

LET’S START THE DAY THE CROCE WAY with Freestyles 64 and 65. Solve Tuesday’s. Then solve Friday’s.

LENA: How do you say TIm’s last name anyway??? I’ve been saying CRO-chay

PETER: I also say that

LENA: Ok good– like how you say “cross” in Italian

PETER: it’s funny that he doesn’t play up the CROCE = CROSS thing

PETER: anyway, I’ve also pronounced this guy’s name the same way, and I just learned that it’s wrong! His is CRO-chee.


PETER: right? As long as it’s not CROACH

PETER: or rhymes with GROSS

Freestyle 64 – 10/13/15

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LENA: I wanted (47D: impudent little jerks) to be SHITS immediately, and it was! Wish granted! Plus I enjoy weird stuff like LOESS when I know it. Because where else are you given the opportunity to be proud of knowing LOESS.

PETER: I had HUMUS forever instead of LOESS. LOESS was cheat #1!


LENA: Oh, and I was angry at WHEYS (49D: Products used in making ricotta). Ever since I saw OREGANOS in the ACPT final puzzle I’ve been sensitive to plurals. I had CURDS 😦 and I got stuck on 33A: [Label that shared its name with a plant part]. I know ARISTA as a fruit fly part; like some antennal segment. I guess it probably just means anything bristle or something.

PETER: I bristled at that.

LENA: and, wait, whoa is BRONC (1D: It’s yet to be broken) like ORANG? A buckin’ bronc?


LENA: Overall, this was not one of my favorite Croce puzzles. Usually there is more of a payoff for solving Tim’s tricky clues.

It’s weird that RSS FEEDS already seems somehow out-of-date to me? But then there’s CAPTCHA (51A: One of those website security swirly letter thingies that you keep having to refresh to get you one you can read) which endures. I was not a fan of FLOW NET (20A: Graphical grid representing movement of groundwater through an aquifer)…

But I did really enjoy NOT THAT IM BITTER, ENTER KEY, and the answer/clue combo for SCOOP/(25A: Top of a float).

Freestyle 65 – 10/16/15

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PETER: Some of the craziest-looking things were my first footholds in this one: (29D: Ketamine-influenced episode (if you’re stuck on the first letter, think “ketamine”) for KHOLE, (1D: Complete domination, in gamer slang) for PWNAGE, and (50A: Online “Wha…?!”) for DAFUQ. Mostly because they’ve all been on my seedlist for a while. I can’t believe he beat me! Well, actually, of course I can, because he publishes two puzzles a week and I publish two puzzles never. But still. For serious though, one of the best of many good things about Croce’s puzzles is the use of seed-like entries in the short fill. Sparkle in the short fill and in non-marquee locations elevates a good freestyle to a great freestyle, for me.

… is (45D: Kept up to date) CUED IN a thing? A thing that means the same thing as CLUED IN?

LENA: that is a good question. I probably just heard it as “clued” in my head and didn’t think twice– buuut CUED IN looks kinda bogus.

PETER: It could be saved by a reference to orchestral conducting maybe? Like, a conductor might say “I’ll cue you in.” I’ve heard that I think. So I’m leaning towards legit but maybe not with that cue clue.

…(59A: Org. with the Chairside Instructor app) ADA is obvi not top-shelf fill, but Croce is pretty good at digging up unique angles for tired blah stuff like ADA. I’ve noticed similar dreck-saving cluing in Peter Gordon’s Fireball themelesses, as well.

…I really wanted (62A: Summer coolers?) to be something to do with jail for accountants cooking the books, but it turned out to be SWEAT GLANDS. I don’t know if the ? is necessary there; I would have been less misdirected had it not been there. Also, I totally thought the “second coming” in 13D: (Comedy with a sequel aptly subtitled “The Second Coming”) => NUNSENSE was a semen reference.

LENA: yeah, I did too

PETER: like it would be some teen gross-out comedy like american pie

LENA: I didn’t think nuns were  even supposed to come once, let alone twice

PETER: is G AND T a thing anyone says ever for GIN AND TONIC? Lena is a former bartender and a cocktail expert, so I’ll defer to her.

LENA: yes, that’s a frequent order– right alongside the vokkatonic.

PETER: And there you have it. Always exciting to see a brand-new (to me) but perfectly legit entry of 6 or fewer letters, especially something that isn’t ephemeral or meme-y. I’m easily excited.

…My favourite entry in this puzzle is probably the centerpiece of that gorgeous NE stack, (16A: Onetime “American Idol” signoff) SEACREST OUT. Partly because it’s just an awesome entry, but mostly because, despite not consciously remembering having ever heard it before, I jokingly threw it in off just a few crosses. I double, nay, triple-checked that stack once I was finished to confirm that SEACREST OUT was, in fact, still in there and all the crosses were correct. Like, I literally just made it up because it was funny. So much of this puzzle sounds made-up, but, as a lover of fresh wtf-y fill, I mean that in the best possible way. Like, COPRINCE (36D: Either of two rulers of the nation of Andorra (one of whom is, ex officio, the President of France, oddly enough)) would be right at home in a “something different” puzzle, but here they are. I want a Weird Al parody of  “Two Princes”: “co-princes of Andorra” is almost “two princes who adore you.” I’m starting to think croce is actually a lousy constructor but an amazing wikipedia vandal. Jk, y’all, dude’s a beast. Nothing but love for this puzzle.

…Let’s take a quick look at some very nice clues. I liked that oblique angle in 19A: Hidden by, say (AMID). Had ATOP for a while. I wasn’t fooled for a second by 63A: They’re found in men and women, but not people (ENS), but it doesn’t quite give you enough to disambiguate the second-last letter. Ditto for 2D: Coming-out party, maybe (GAYMAN). 52D: Running over (LONG) is oh-so-tricksy.

Also, FUCKING LOAMS (52A: They’re good for gardening) IS FINALLY HERE.

LENA: Thank fuck. But man, that plural. No.

  1. I’ve always pronounced it “Croach” or “Crose”. Thanks for the pronunciation guide!


  2. Lena Webb said:

    We could be wrong! We need verification.


  3. I can confirm that my last name is pronounced “CROW-chee”, second syllable rhyming with “three”. I appreciate the debate over this, tho…!

    I myself was actually doubtful about CUED IN, until I saw it as an idiom in the American Heritage Dictionary. I was reassured by that.


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