Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014, Peter A. Collins


This puzzle seemed a lot harder than yesterday, and I actually ended up with an incorrect letter! I had guessed bAT for CAT (28D: Bopper), and I was not familiar with the CLIC (26A: ____ Stic (retractable Bic pen). I thought I remembered a pen called simply, the Bic Clic, but not "Clic Stic." Still, I could maybe have made the leap… oh well.

Anywho, as I said, this was not in my wheelhouse. SHARPEI (13A: Wrinkly-skinned dog) did not come without a fight, and almost every cross. Ditto for MALACHI (49A: Last book of the Old Testament) (Once Exodus was too short, I was out of ideas.) And that middle section, with SNELL (23A: Matt who scored the only Jets touchdown in Super Bowl history) (Wasn't that in 1969?) on top of TOTIE (27A: Comic Fields who was an Ed Sullivan regular) (Wha?)!

Much of the long fill (mostly vertical, except for the theme answers) was pretty good. STRIKEZONES (23D: They vary according to batters' heights) was nice, and I panicked for a minute when I had _K_Z_ in the middle. NIHILIST (7D: Believer that life is meaningless) is decent, as is HIGHNOON (6D: 1952 Gary Cooper classic), although the former came much more quickly than the latter.

I have a couple semantic problems, though. ADIEUX (39D: They're said at the end of a soirée) would never be said at the end of a soirée, except, possibly, facetiously. Adieu is similar to "farewell," and is reserved for serious leave-taking. When you don't expect to see the other person for a long time, or ever again. It is, literally, "to god," and the French people I know don't throw it around casually.

The other problem is INCISIVE (12D: Clear and direct, as reporting). I want the clue to have more of the "cutting" aspect that comes with the word incisive. "Clear and direct" just doesn't seem right to me. Maybe it is, though. I'm not so sure about this one, but I'd have preferred the clue to include "Probing" or "penetrating."

Finally, the theme - three phrases of three words each, with every word starting with the letter T - would be decent enough on its own, I guess, but it's added to considerably by the three giant Ts in the grid. The odd construction and side-to-side symmetry must have added to the difficulty in filling this, and in light of that, I think that the result is actually pretty good. I give it a thumbs up.

- Horace


  1. 22 mins. (DNF)
    I found this tougher than yesterday also, and have bAT in there instead of CAT, so.... I agree with INCISIVE. I was originally getting angry with 7D because I had letters filled in there that suggested "atheist" (although I realize that there are not the proper number of boxes) and I thought that the NYT was getting sloppy, but thankfully they weren't. I was. I didn't notice the three large "T"s in the grid, though I did notice them in the long theme answers. Very nice. And finally, I knew MALACHI. Don't you remember my famous Jeopardy game (2007)? Category: The Bible. $600: "This book ends the Old Testament with the unfriendly “…lest I come and smite the land with a curse."” Unanswered (Malachi)

  2. "Unanswered" makes me feel a little better. That was the first time, apparently. This is the second. Don't they say you need to hear things three times before learning them? Can I count the puzzle and then this comment as separate instances? Let's hope so.

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