Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013, Dan Schoenholz


"Criticism is easier than craftsmanship," as they say, so let's start with some of that. AONE (13A: Top of the line) and LASE (14A: Use a surgical beam on) are things that I mostly only see or hear in crossword puzzles. "A-One" is, I guess, something you might hear someone say, but who ever says "lase" in normal conversation? I hold that even in a conversation about laser surgery, you'd be more likely to hear "Yeah, they're going to cut it off with a laser" rather than "They're going to lase it off." And I'm much more likely to use the "take advantage of" definition of AVAIL than the "16A: Be of use to" definition. Not that it's wrong. Not that any of these are wrong, but they're just, well... crosswordsy. As is, in my opinion, the AMEBA spelling of amoeba. Also, before I get on to the "praise" portion of this review, let me just say that I thought CDE (43A: Start of a musical scale) was very weak. It's exactly what I thought of (yes, even starting on C), but I really hoped it wasn't the actual answer.

I did enjoy the homonym theme quite a bit. I love the directness of the answers, especially, for some reason, FRENCHFORYES (23A: Oui), and PERSONALPRONOUN (35A: We). I also enjoyed the clues for MINTS (19A: Money makers), ACES (61A: They aren't returned), and the very nice "62A: Impudent" for WISE. 33A: Org. for Wizards and Magic (NBA) was fun, too. And I even liked the quaint cwossing of ANON (3D: Soon, quaintly) and YON (20A: Farther away, quaintly).

So despite my bellyaching, I thought this was a decent enough Tuesday. Monday through Wednesday, a good theme can go a long way.

- Horace


  1. 11:03
    17A Wii (XBOXRIVAL) was excellent, as it has two “x”s in it. I’m not a big fan of the AMEBA spelling of amoeba, but it’s often in puzzles like that. CAMEONTO was as racy as this puzzle got, unfortunately, but I enjoyed seeing a reference to one of Sue’s most hated places, i.e. AVIARY. But I agree with Horace about the theme going a long way.

  2. 11:53. I guess I'll third a warm, but not torrid, appreciation for this one. Like Horace, I really loved the theme answers. They all have a lovely innocence and earnestness to them. Yes, very, very sick of seeing AMEBA. It's almost as if that's the preferred spelling, according to crosswords. Not right. Horace, I was thinking of you when I filled in the random plural suffix STERS. You're not a fan of those, are you? CDE is extremely weak. What a bonanza for puzzle makers that a movie exists called "In the Valley of Elah." To end on a positive note, I like the inclusion of NAST, the father of American Political Cartoonists. I always enjoy a clue or answer that expands my knowledge. Nast, who worked in the second half of the 19th Century, took on Boss Tweed. You gotta love that.

  3. The only way the "Start of a musical scale" clue could have been interesting is if it spanned the top, like with "GAB," but then, that's just another word. "FGA" could work, I guess, but still.... it just seems cheap.

  4. And yes, STERS... poor. He tried to make it cool by using "Hip" and "Road," but you still end up with STERS in the grid.