Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013, Alan DerKazarian



Interesting puzzle today. The diagonal GREATDIVIDE (27A: Passage from life to death) (couldn't/shouldn't this have been clued geographically?) splitting the grid was novel, and the "secret code" of BACKINBLACK (1980 hard rock album that went 22x platinum ... or a hint to how to cross this puzzle's 27-Across) are just the sorts of things you expect from a Sunday, but there were so, so many three-letter answers, and a few real clunkers (NUTTED), that overall, the solve ended up being less than totally satisfactory.

On the bright side, Frannie liked the inclusion of the not-often seen word SUITORS (22A: Ones with bouquets, maybe), and CONCLAVES (60A: Private gatherings) ain't so bad either. In fact, much of the longish stuff (9s & 10s) was very good. MENTALNOTE, LOSSLEADER, BLOSSOMED, all nice. And who doesn't love an OCELOT (70A: Cat also known as the dwarf leopard)? Oh, and speaking of animals, I looked up MAKO (79A: Ocean menace), and found it is a variety of shark. They can jump 30 feet in the air, and some estimate that they can swim at over 60 miles per hour. Calling them a "menace," however, is challenged by at least one Wikipedia contributor, who wrote: "The mako is regularly blamed for attacks on humans and, due to its speed, power and size, it is certainly capable of injuring and killing people. However, this species will not generally attack humans and do not seem to treat them as prey. Most modern attacks involving mako sharks are considered to have been provoked due to harassment or the shark being caught on a fishing line." Sooo... maybe not their fault.

Lastly, 18D: "Purple haze" was LSD? I guess I should have figured that out, but I never really gave it much thought.

- Horace


  1. I agree that the fill wasn't great, but I really enjoyed the theme. I love the "Aha" moment you get when the theme becomes clear. I hadn't paid too much attention to the - marks at the start when I arrived at 39A, "Round trip... or the subtitle of The Hobbit," which I knew immediately, but couldn't figure out how to fit it in. I guessed there might be a rebus in action, but when the SE corner fell into place (often the first part of the puzzle that falls for me), I got BROKE(back)MOUNTAIN, and the rest came tumbling after. Funny that I never noticed the fact that the puzzle was in two independent parts, and that all the broken answers crossed the divide until you enlightened me. Nice touch, and which clearly led to the large amount of four and three letter answers. I'm not sure I totally agree with BBS as a plural for "shot from a gun." For some reason that feels like it should be singular, but I can see the argument for the plural. I'm also a big fan of the answer OAST. Follows along with yesterday's missed theme.

  2. Untimed.
    I also hadn't noticed the physical divide of the puzzle until Horace mentioned it, and it did take me a little while to figure out what was going on with the rebus, but mostly this puzzle fell into place easily. Should we be saying POETESS?

  3. First, how great is it that Warsaw's airport is named after Chopin? BBS seems OK to me. "Shot" in this case is the noun, rather than the participle. I found this one pretty hard. I didn't get the theme very fast at all. At first I thought it quite lame that only four squares in the divide were "back," but then I considered the difficulty--impossibility?--of making them all contain that word and I was somewhat assuaged. Also, I like that all of the theme answers are symmetrical. Nutted is one of the worst answers in recent memory. And I am quite sick of EEW and its arbitrarily appearing brother "Eww." Where's Huygens for the shout-out for 80-Across??!

  4. It is great. And I had the exact same reaction about there being just four squares, but they do work for both the Acrosses and the Downs, so that's something.

  5. Boy, I've got to get cracking on my blue shout outs!