Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014, Anna Shechtman


Forget yesterday. Yesterday was nothing. Yesterday was an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks to collect a bill. This is the best of the week, and it will take something special to knock it out of that position.

We've not seen Ms. Shechtman before, and honestly, I was a little surprised to see a woman's name that I didn't recognize on a Thursday byline. It's just that far fewer women than men construct puzzles. At least that's the sense you get by looking at bylines in the NY Times. Is it wrong of me to think that answers like PANTSUITS (6D: Hillary Clinton wardrobe staples), UTERI (62A: Things twins share), and HELLNO (45A: "Not in a million years!") are more likely to have been written by a woman than a man? (And by the way, that last one might be my favorite "quote" clue ever!) But I'm not saying it to complain. I think it's a good thing. I hope for more puzzles from women - especially Ms. Shechtman!

Today's theme clues were a beautiful misdirection that I only fully understood when I answered my last one - POUNDSIGN (33A: #2). Only then did I realize that the "#" was a part of the clue. Before that, I was trying to think of a relationship between TICTACTOEBOARD (20A: #1), SPACEMARK (#2), and TWITTERHASHTAG (#4), but nothing was coming to mind. Frannie, btw, got that last one. Glancing over at the iPad in a half-asleep stupor, she noticed I had something like "_ A_HFAG" at the end, and said, "Could that F be a T, because that looks a lot like "hashtag." And so it was. I guess that one should have tipped me off to the theme, but it didn't somehow.

But let's move on to the fill, and more specifically, to SHTUP (38A: Sleep with, in slang). !! When I had SH I knew what was coming, but I refused to believe it and made myself do all the crosses. (Knowing the U, though, helped with OUTRE (31D: More than quirky) (great fill!)). Amazing. Also great were EPICNESS (5D: Condition of being awesome, in modern slang), GAYANTHEM (10D: "It's raining men," for one), BUBBLEWRAP (27D: It might pop in the post office) (nice tie-in with the less-good-but-made-better-by-association EURO (7D: Start to pop?)), NEARSHORE (38D: Littoral) (I like this one because I learned it in Latin class), ZINC (3D: Brass section), and more. Good geography clues with EGYPT (29D: Memphis's home) and IONA (60A: Where Macbeth, Malcolm and Duncan are buried)… and you know what? I don't care at all about any of the stuff that's in here just to make the other stuff possible. I'm not even going to mention it. I'm that happy that the other stuff was made possible.

- Horace


  1. 45:49
    I got TWITTERHASHTAG first of the theme answers (after erroneously entering an "f" where the fourth "T" belongs, like Horace), but from there I figured out the theme and was able to enter most of the rest of the puzzle pretty quickly (in under 37 minutes - quick for me). I was hung up in the south and by the french TREN (47A). Frankly, after seeing so many damned French-themed clues I almost set the puzzle on fire in protest, but the crosses were a great aid, so I can't complain too much. I made an educated guess on the last letter of ERTE and that led to TELEO which fixed up SCENARIO, which I'd originally ended with an "a" even though the clue had the proper wording for an "o." PRIOR came slowly (brilliant clue), as did UTERI. I was shocked to see the FONZ in there, but happy-shocked. 46D Yield (OUTPUT) was my starred clue today for its simplicity and greatness. I'm with Horace: there's quite a bit to love about this puzzle. I never heard of SHTUP, though, and how many more ways are there to clue EPEES?

  2. Nice write-up, Huygens, but you really should get Sue to pitch in from time to time, because she might have known "TREN," as it is not French, but Spanish - or possibly Portuguese.

    1. Oh...Spanish? I'll ask her about it. It seemed French to me.

  3. 39:48 If all this puzzle had was GAYANTHEM, I would have called it great. But as the write-ups above point out, it had so much more. Most of my favorite features have been duly noted. I also loved AHSO for "Facetious words of understanding." Like Huygens, I was slowed dramatically by the south central. I know the word littoral, so I had NEARSHORE (what quality fill, by the way) fairly quickly, but I had "tram" for TREN for the longest time and that really put the screws to me. Other problems: I always forget--although hopefully not anymore--that ERTE is a pseudonym, I don't really know TELEO, and I am still not sure how and when # is used as a SPACEMARK. Actually, I'm quite proud I finished this thing at all. There were many minutes when I feared the dreaded Thursday DNF. Really top-notch effort from Anna. Just loved it, despite the late difficulty.

  4. 22:38. Wow! This played hard for a Thursday. I agree with ET59 about SPACEMARK. How is that a "#"? Regardless, I figured the theme out with the TWITTERHASHTAG, but only after having the f in place of the T just like Horace and Huygens. I love UNIT for "Stone, e.g.". Happy to see STYES so it could cross with EGYPT, a nice reminder of how our placenames come from elsewhere. I'm amused because around here, Cairo is pronounced CAY-ro, and Corinth, cuh-RINTH, Greenwich, GREEN-witch. DUET and GAYANTHEM were a nice pairing. And like Horace, I was astonished to see the trio of HELLNO, UTERI, and SHTUP. Excellent puzzle.