Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013, Jean O'Conor


If only this puzzle had come out a few weeks ago, maybe my sister would have been reminded to take in the basil from her garden and process it as instructed here, instead of leaving it to blacken in the first frost! But I suppose the first frost is later in NYC. Maybe the Boston Globe ran a similar puzzle a month ago. (unlikely)

In general, I am not a huge fan of this type of theme, which is similar to the "long quote" theme, because it is so completely opaque at first, and then, at least in this case, or in the case of a quote that you recognize, can be filled in all at once. And here, there is quite a bit of theme material, so it felt at first like I'd be at this one for a good long while, and then all of a sudden it was done.

My favorite horizontal row was LANCE (49A: Tilter's weapon) and OBVIATES (50A: Renders unnecessary). Both good, interesting words. Thought 1D: Gem of a girl? (OPAL) was a nice clue. Didn't realize that THIRTY was the 4D: Minimum age for a U.S. Senator. For president it's 35, right? I don't know if they ought to perpetuate the misspelling of "biceps" with 6D: Muscle strengthened by curls, informally (BICEP). Maybe our doctor-commenter will chime in with his thoughts on that? And also on the difference between the EKG (8D: Heart test letters) and an "ECG," which is also seen with some frequency.

I didn't think I was familiar with the ALCAN 12D: ____ Highway (historic route to Delta Junction), but after looking it up, I see that I know it better as the Alaska Highway. Further, it starts in a place called "Dawson Creek!"

Overall, I like this puzzle more and more as I write it up. I don't even have time to mention ARNIES (5D: ____ Army (golf fans of old)), LAHR (26D: Cowardly Lion portrayer), or ASCOTS (41D: Items at a haberdashery), the last of which is notable for the fact that it reminds one of the end of "This is Spinal Tap." At least it does this one.

- Horace


  1. 9:12. I also don't usually like the quotation type of theme, but this one was fun, and quickly became clear, as you said. And you left out SPONGEBOB! Nice touch. EKG is the abbreviation we use typically, even though it refers to the German spelling, while ECG is English. I do not like BICEP. I don't get it. And ENVIRO is weird in that it does not answer the clue ("Green" in product names). Shouldn't that have a prefix in the clue or something?

  2. 12:44
    I didn't mind this puzzle. It made me hungry. Poor, black basil.
    I enjoyed 46D Pizza cuts, essentially (RADII) because it's math-related. I'd never heard of a LANCE being affiliated with something called "tilting," but it's always nice to learn something (speaking of which, thanks Colum regarding the EKG/ECG difference). Good mention of OLEARYS (25A Owners of an infamous cow), even though it was not something that I needed to think about for more than a second. Loved LINGERIE (19A Slips and such) both for the imagery of the answer and the inventiveness of the clue. I'm also a fan of LEE 7D Van Cleef of "High Noon" and many other oaters. And finally, what about 35D Have ____ (surreptitiously imbibe) (ANIP)? You've got to admit that's good.

  3. Nice use of the crossword word "oaters," Huygens.

    I associate "tilting" primarily with Don Quixote and his "tilting at windmills," and indeed, in most images of him that I can think of, he is holding a lance.

    "Bicep," Colum, is what most gym rats call the biceps, as in "These curls really work the bicep." When they say "biceps," they usually mean the muscles in both arms. Why the NYT should want to promote this error is beyond me. And I agree about "ENVIRO," although that seems less egregious to me.

    Lastly, Rex Parker rightfully pointed out that no one cuts a pizza with radial cuts. Pizza cutting is done with cuts that span the entire diameter. Birthday cake cuts could more correctly be called radii.

  4. Nice distinction in the last paragraph there, Ho. ENVIRO is somewhere between weird and egregious in my book (and I know you are all interested in my book), probably tilting more toward the egregious end. "Enviro" in product names is, of course, meaningless. The clue should have suggested something to the effect of "supposedly associated with a vague 'greenness' in product names." That clue is subject to editing. This one was a mixed bag, I guess. But isn't the Wednesday the red-headed stepchild of crossworddom, anyway? I mean, Monday and Tuesday are for time or beginners. Thursday is the cool theme/rebus/trick day. The last two days of the week are the meat and potatoes. Wednesday struggles for an identity. Unlike our faithful blogger, I did not like "Gem of a girl." Who's named Opal? And how often do you really hear "gem of" an anything? Plus, it's too easy. Didn't care for OJS either. Now I did like ERB. How refreshing is it to have fresh initials, ones that aren't EAP, RLS, TSE, TAE, etc.?? Of course, I would have preferred his brother, WSB. "Spongebob"? Nice touch? Who is this interloper to the dailies? I agree, though, that BICEP is weak, or at least weakly clued. "Incorrectly" would have been better than "informally." I had to write KILNS over "knobs," which I prefer for "Ceramists' fixtures." Yes, always nice to see Arnie and Lahr.
    I'm out.

  5. The pizza/cake distinction is all Rex. I can't take credit for anything more than dissemination.

    Your thoughts on Wednesday are right on, as are, I suppose, your complaints about OPAL and ENVIRO.

    As I write on Thursday, I feel that Colum has started on a particularly sub-par week. On the bright side, though, there's nowhere to go but up!