Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014, David Steinberg and Bernice Gordon


Another collaboration from the dynamic duo of Crossword Puzzledom - the youngest and the oldest NYT constructors - and a fine effort indeed.

It took me several crosses to get both 1A: Give for free, as a ticket (COMP) and 1D: Grow in popularity (CATCHON), and when that happens on a Monday, I start to panic a little. I "caught on" to the theme after HELLENISTIC (23A: Of an ancient Greek period), however, and putting in all those letters without a second thought (yes, even HOLLANDAISE), really makes things go pretty quickly. I, for one, enjoy a vowel progression, and this one, using H_LL as a base, is quite nicely done.

The fill was above average, and showed an appropriate mix of fresh and stalwart with COLBERT (52A: Comedy Central's "The ____ Report") and ATEIT (59A: Swallowed a loss) vs. PESTLE (4D: Mortar's partner) and OLDCHAP (37D: British buddy). See also: SPLATS (33A: Food fight sounds) vs. LECH (58A: Polish hero Walesa) and UNTO (61A: "Do ____ others as …").

Interesting trivia in 36D: Company said to use about 1% of the world's wood supply (IKEA), a timely clue on TEESHOT (43D: Start of a hole) (Congrats, Mr. McIlroy), and fans of Douglas Adams (and I know we have at least one in our readership) will certainly enjoy 63A: iPhone assistant who says that "42" is the meaning of life (SIRI). That last, by the way, is a good example of a clue that adds interesting information just for the sake of adding interesting information, as surely no one needed anything but the first two words to get the answer, if they were going to get it at all without crosses, that is.

In all, a very good Monday. Nice, thick corners, and I'll take HED, ELI and SLR all day if the rest of the fill is going to be so solid.

- Horace


  1. 5:06. A fine Monday! My only real complaint is that HILLBILLY uses the H_LL progression as its own word, whereas the other possibilities (HALL, HELL, HULL) are all lost in the larger words. Nice pairing in ADLIB and ASIDES, and an excellent set of 7-letter triads in each corner. And HERNIA was a surprise Monday word.

    So long and thanks for all the fish!

  2. 8:11
    The SIRI clue was top-notch, but yes, only the first two words were necessary. But Colum, isn't HILLBILLY one word? 13D Guillotines (BEHEADS) was a nice, tricky use of the verb form of the word, and I loved 44A Apt rhyme of "crude" (LEWD), for which I'd originally filled "rude." Horace must have known 3D Longtime Nikon competitor (MINOLTA) right away since I filled it in with only one cross. These two constructors make a good pair. This is a high-quality Monday.

  3. Yes, HILLBILLY is one word, but the first syllable refers to the entire word HILL, which was not true of any of the other words (HALLELUJAH has nothing to do with a hall, and HELLENISTIC does not refer to hell, etc.).