Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014, Amy Johnson


Being a bit of a WORDFREAK (17A: 2001 best seller about competitive Scrabble), I enjoyed this puzzle's theme of Scrabble opening plays. It's kind of funny if you think of the theme as a way to get "scrabbly" letters into the grid, like some constructors seem to do. It's so obvious, it's tricky! My favorite themer might be SPAZZES (43A: Totally inept sorts (max opening score of 104 points), and not just because it's the highest value play. I also like how BLANKTILE (58A: What you'd need to play 26-, 29-, 43-, or 45-Across) ties in with the theme.

Most of the high-value letter crosses are fine, except maybe for JOADS (28D: Steinbeck family), but really, that's fine, too. I especially enjoyed XANADU (46D: Setting of Kubla Khan's palace), because I knew it immediately, and HOBOS (16A: Bindle toters), because "bindle" is such a nice word. AISLE (31A: Bridal path) is nicely clued, as is GEM (34D: It has its setting), and 57A: Wonderland cake message (EATME) is nicely answered (Huygens alert!) (see also: PRICK), but overall, this might have been a bit easy, even for a red-headed stepchild Wednesday. I would even have been a minute quicker, but I entered "POSSIBLe" for POSSIBLY (36D: "It could happen") and didn't notice that that left "eOUR" for 64A: M.Y.O.B. part until I was forced to look for it. To some, that means a DNF, but to us, it's a FWOE, or, "Finished with One Error." Whatever. It's all the same, isn't it? Why do I even mention the time? Maybe soon we'll drop that feature of the reviews...

Oh, and one more thing, it's a nice start today with TOMS (1A: Some gobblers). Speaking of gobbling, Frannie and I have been eating so much bread, cheese and chocolate lately! We are SATED!

- Horace


  1. 10:09
    It's hard not to love the Scrabble theme. I bet Will Shortz feels the same. But is TSKTSKS really acceptable?

    I immediately filled in EMINOR, thinking of the Bourree from the 1st Lute Suite that I and most every other classical guitar student has played. But then I had self-doubt. Bach did, of course, write many bourrees. Although the other very recognizable bourree is from the 3rd Cello Suite and has been transcribed and played on many instruments (mon fils has played it, as has any Suzuki violin, viola, cello, bass student who's gotten through Book 3). That's in C Major, so when the crosses confirmed "minor," I figured it was pretty safe.

    I liked the mild misdirection of XEROXED (45A: Ran off, in a way). And starting with TOMS is simpatico.

  2. 7:20. I agree that it was too easy for a Wednesday, but maybe we're all biased, non? (Did you like that little sop to certain persons and where they are currently?) Not only have we been doing these puzzles routinely for quite some time, but we're also all Scrabble (TM) players...

    I thought the fill was above average throughout. Mmmmm... fill... KREME... You get XANADU and SIOUX, SHRIEKS, COHORT next to ABET, POSSIBLY, etc. etc. Four Ks! On the down side, there's NOTA, AMER, and OLIO, that tired tired old crosswordese standby. Overall excellent puzzle.

    Speaking of Homer Simpson, recently (Sunday?) there was a clue that led me to fill in DOH. The actual answer was DUH, and I stared at it for a second before snorting. The fat guy's taken over much of pop culture, hasn't he?

  3. 11:18
    I don't mind seeing the times noted. I'd starred the two "Huygens" answers noted by Horace, i.e. EATME and PRICK, but the former was due to my love of "Alice In Wonderland." I'm not a Scrabble player, but did love the theme, and I learned something today: only one X and one Z tile appear in the array. I'm with Colum on the nice fill and regarding entering "DoH" first on a recent clue. But speaking of Homer (Simpson, that is), I thought that the BEERBELLY answer from a few days ago could have been more trickily clued using "Call Me Al." I liked seeing FANTA in there, although I don't drink the stuff any longer, and it was a nice pair of music-themed answers (OPERA and EMINOR). Least favorite: 27D On the observation deck, say (UPTOP).