Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013, David J. Kahn



Just kidding. This was a fine puzzle. Except for the EARWAX (63A: Swab target). I mean really, last week it was EGGSACS, this week it's earwax. And it's right on top of a (66A: Surgeon's aid) SPONGE. Stop grossing me out!

The theme today, such as it was, seemed a little, well... meh. The "reveal" clue, 25D: Vicissitudes of life, as for the inventor named in the circled squares?, seemed oddly phrased, but it referred, I guess, to the four circled instances of the name OTIS, contained within other words or combinations of words. It read down, then up twice, then down again. I first thought the two ups in the middle were odd, but they were at least progressive. By that I mean that the second up could have been seen as a continuation of an elevator ride, and the following down started above them both. But that's probably already too much contemplation of this topic.

If I ever make a puzzle, be on the lookout for the clue "Island so nice, they named it twice," which is what I wished had been the clue for BORABORA (65A: Island near Tahiti). 

Sometimes you get SERA, sometimes SERUMS, for 24A: Hospital fluids. (Another gross one, come to think of it).

Lastly, I started this out by guessing cARbAR for 1A: Where some commuters drink (imagining, I guess, a limo), and then didn't get BAMA or CURATOR for quite some time. (Cama and burator just didn't seem to make any sense.) It got me to thinking - do commuters really drink in bar cars? I've gotta start taking the train more often!

- Horace


  1. okay, I'm able to see this puzzle on a site called "" but it's the solved version. It even has a nice photograph of David J. Kahn. Seems like a pleasant fellow. I guess the solved version will help get me into the conversation, but it might be nice to try one of these puzzles once in a while. Are there blank copies available somewhere online?

  2. You have an iPod, don't you? If so, I suggest getting the app and ponying up for the puzzles. If not, Huygens somehow signed up for them online, maybe he can tell you how.

    I don't know of any sites where you can get the current puzzle, undone, for free.

  3. Hi Sanderson Eggo. I think that I just subscribed to the digital NY Times for a year for $36, but I use only the puzzle.

    I enjoyed this one, but it took me a while for some reason (37:50). I, too, got hung up on BARCAR for a while until I thought of the train. I thought it odd that the plural of serum was given as serums, but that's OK. I didn't mind the grossness of ear wax or sponge. I like Horace's clue for Bora Bora better than the one given.

    By the way, by contrast, the Worcester Telegram puzzle took me 10:49 and there was no theme that I could recall. It seems that the NYT puzzle makers are somewhat more skilled than those at the WT.

  4. Hellooo-
    I tried to comment yesterday, but I'm too old (I know Glenda Jackson) and too drunk (Bar Cars--NY commuter trains!) to figure out how to post, but I'll try this last time. Excellent analysis and a shout out to Fran for her droll use of answers in prose on Monday.

  5. Nice to hear from you, TT. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog!

  6. OK, I admit it, I looked at Rex first today. What I thought was an easy Wednesday--although I didn't time it today--turned into a DNF because of the ridiculous cross at HEH/EBEN. I had an A. A couple delights: I love the American plural of serum. I like seeing Johnny Olson. CURATOR was very cleverly clued. "Provider of directions" was nice. However, the 15-letter down was dreadful in cluing and answer. Still don't get NOUN for "What you may call it?" Somebody said it was a play on "whatchamacallit," but that still doesn't make any sense. Otis, the inventor of the elevator, going up and down was cute, I guess.

  7. I assumed that that he meant that the "it" in that sentence was a noun. It's not the principle noun, but it's still a noun, isn't it? At least in a very broad sense?

    I didn't mind the 15 as much as you did, and yes, CURATOR and VANE were both nice.

    And speaking of elevators, until quite recently, there was an OTIS elevator headquarters in Cambridge that was in a one-story building. The very thought of it amused me no end.

  8. "It," of course, is a pronoun. Unless you're talking about tag.

  9. Yes, but I guess I was thinking that "pronoun" is a subset of "noun," as if all words could be broken into groups like "animal, vegetable, and mineral."

    Blah. I don't know why I'm defending it, really.