Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013, Tom McCoy


Was this, or was this not, the easiest Thursday of the year, and possibly the least interesting? Unless I'm missing something, which is, of course, entirely possible, all I see for theme are four unrelated words that are self-referencial in only the blandest of ways. UNHYPHENATED (28A: Like 28-Across)? Really? And to make matters worse, the clue is hyphenated, so there's an odd disconnect between clue and answer. (I know that the answers are describing themselves, but it's still odd to me.) PRONOUNCEABLE (20A: Like 20-Across)? Huh. Wow. I will be embarrassed, sure, if someone reveals the secret to me, the hidden joke that I'm not getting, but my embarrassment will be worth it, I think, if it makes this puzzle any less embarrassing.

Let's back up for a moment, though, shall we? At the beginning, I was encouraged by the clue 1A: Ersatz cocoa (CAROB), which I filled in immediately. One day, long ago, my family tried out various carob products, perhaps when they were newly marketed or introduced to the area. I remember vividly my revulsion, and I've scarcely had a single bite of the stuff since then. Anyway, off of that, the entire NW was done in a flash, and I worried that it felt a little Monday-ish. Loved the clue for OXEN (15A: The yoke's on them), and there's interesting trivia in the NE with (THELMA (10D: Pat Nixon's given name), but everything filled in quickly. Maybe Tuesday-ish, but definitely not Thursday-ish.

It's fun that the knight theme continues today with QUESTING (37D: Knight's activity). It provided for one of my few corrections, as I had originally written in "jousting," which, frankly, would have gone better with yesterday's "lance." The "knight" callback at 39D: Knight (SIR) was a nice touch.

So, a few nice things, (63A: Spread out in the kitchen? (MAYO) was good, too), but way too easy, and a theme that, at least to this solver, seems both weak and absurd.


- Horace

p.s. The constructor, a college freshman, writes a bit about the puzzle and his methods on the Wordplay blog today. Sadly, it did not add anything meaningful to my understanding of the puzzle. On the contrary, his statement that he needed to "find a place for Q, since Q is the most intriguing letter..." actually did further damage.


  1. You, are correct, sir! I filled in about half of this at Monday pace. Incredible. Or should I say incredibly bad editing? I agree on the "least interesting" part too. I had one clue marked: "Meetings probably not entered in P.D.A.'s." That and its counterpart made a nice pair, but I wish 31-Down didn't have the "Abbr." Makes it less elegant somehow, don't you think? "Absurd seems a kind way to describe this theme. And the Q comment to me marks this guy as an imbecile.

  2. 11:32. I agree this one moved along easily, although I had difficulty with the middle north. I enjoyed the idea of completely self-referential answers. PENTASYLLABIC in particular is nice. TWELVELETTER seems like it should have an -ed at the end to be precise, as it is describing itself and should be more clearly an adjective, but then it would no longer be twelve letters long. I also like DEMUR and the 007 pairing. But I agree with Horace. It's not a Thursday level puzzle. I'm hoping Friday and Saturday provide more of a challenge. I spent $20 bucks on this?

  3. Time unknown, but I was finished before taxiing from the gate to position one (for takeoff) at BDL, which only took a few minutes. I agree with the above comments, and think that PENTASYLLABIC was the only really good theme answer. I loved TRYSTS, of course (my only starred clue), but there wasn't much else here. This was an odd choice for a Thursday puzzle by the NYT editor(s).
    Note: Since I'm visiting with relatives this weekend, I will probably not attempt either the Friday or Saturday puzzles, but we'll see.