Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013, Joon Pahk and Jeremy Horwitz



Hey, guess what? I guessed GAVOTTE (13A: Baroque French dance) immediately and put it right in. Such is the nature of doing a puzzle on the iPad Mini. I knew it was a dance, but I wasn't sure it would be the dance. (Like the answer to 12D: Santiago's milieu in a Hemingway novel - not just a sea, THESEA!) It held up, though, and was the first of a véritable tempête des mots français in this grid. ARGOT (68A: Trade talk), TGV (79D: French high-speed inits.), MERCI (77A: Comment that might get the response "de rien"), ENTRE (102D: ____ nous), ETE (29A: French word with two accents) (weak clue), 40A: Arriviste (UPSTART), and, perhaps the best one - ROIS (76A: Old French line). Enfin bref, il y en avait beaucoup! (MATTE... MITRE...) (Finally, that French major is paying off!)

But there was lots to love even for non-francophiles. Greek scholars may have enjoyed 16D: Original opening to Homer's "Odyssey"? (OMICRON), IOTAS (41A: Greek vowels), and CROESUS (118A: Fabulously rich ancient king), and Italian-speakers may have smiled at GIORNO (70D: Day, to da Vinci), and maybe even AMO (92A: Livy's "I love").

In addition to all that, there were some very nice, clever clues - 6D: Whale of an exhibition (SHAMU), 105A: Parliament constituent? (NICOTINE) (!), 73D: Has an adult conversation? (TALKSDIRTY), and perhaps the best of the day - 91A: Concave object of reflection? (INNIE). And it's nice to see ANAPEST worked into the grid. Also, I just noticed that "anapest" is, itself, an anapest. Cool.

The theme left me a little cold, and there were some groaners. HUGER (31D: Even more vast), AMENU (98D: "I'd like to see ____"), and SERIOUS doesn't seem to be an exact parallel to 25A: "I'm not kidding." Shouldn't it be "seriously?" Seriously!

Still, overall there was more good than bad. What's more, I learned that the symbol of my own state is the ELMTREE (116A: State symbol of Massachusetts). It was so designated because George Washington took command of the Continental Army beneath an American elm on Cambridge Common in 1775. That tree, like so many other elms in this country, is now gone. I wonder if they'll change the state symbol once the last elm succumbs to dutch elm disease?



- Horace


  1. I didn't get the point of the theme until I had gotten six of the seven answers. And you left out MIO for the Italian lovers. Not all that difficult.

  2. Ooh, too bad about missing MIO. That was the best one of the Italian/Latin group!

  3. I forgot to time it, but finished nonetheless in not too bad a time. The SE corner was the most difficult for me, but once OHMS law and NICOTINE came in, the rest fell pretty quickly. I thought it an enjoyable theme. I didn't know the MA state symbol (or the reason for it) prior to working on this puzzle (and reading Horace's blog), and I guessed GAVOTTE right away, too, but didn't write it in since I don't finish these on an iPad Mini.

  4. I had the same reaction to SERIOUS and AMENU. NObody really says, "I'd like to see a menu." And serious is downright off. Still, I kind of liked this puzzle. My favorite theme answers were TAXISTANDBYME and GETLOSTSHORTY. Nice to see Cosell make the puzzle. Last one in was the C at the front of CAIRENE. I thought that was going to be a more iffy guess, but when I thought about C everything made sense. Any puzzle with Cary Grant can't be bad.