Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014, Sam Buchbinder


According to the Wikipedia, they're one week late for the anniversary of the original release date of August 12, 1939. But hey, it's probably close enough for a 75th anniversary, right? And really, this is a heck of a tribute puzzle. Look at all that theme material! Four fifteens, a centrally-located DOROTHY/HEROINE pair, and a couple of circled letters. That's a lot!

The theme material is great, but as you might expect with some 40% of the letters being theme-related, there are going to be some compromises elsewhere. And yes, there are. Here's a little list of crosswordese and odd fill - EIRE, ALI, CGI, ARA, POL, ROAN, SSNS, OREO, LAS, ASL, THA, ATOI, ROO, OTOE, DATS, AER, EDYS, REM, BYS, ALKA, WEI, ODS, AVER… and I'm not even counting names like BIALIK, ZAC, AKIVA and ENZI.

That's a lot, but I think the theme still wins out. I mean, come on, who's going to challenge the Wizard of Oz? And somehow there's still room for some nice non-theme stuff, like QUASH (22A: Put down, as an uprising) (are we thinking of Ferguson here?), STACKS (47D: Library area) (Frannie would love this if she had done this puzzle), HECKLE (48D: Jeer) (great word), NAKEDEYE (64A: Unaided vision, with "the"), and KLUTZY (65A: Ham-handed).

Lastly, not knowing the name BIALIK (15A: Actress Mayim of "The Big Bang Theory") or THA (20A: "____ Carter III" (Lil Wayne 3x platinum album)), it took me a full minute or more at the end to complete S_I_AT (SKIHAT (6D: Top of a mountain?)). Hah. Funny. Ish.

On balance (and my those scales are full), I give this one the thumbs up. For theme, and because Mr. Buchbinder didn't try to cram in a J for the pangram.

- Horace


  1. 12:34
    SKIHAT was the last thing I entered, too, and it took a while. I think the cluing there is pretty forced.

    Horace, you neglected to note RUST, which I believe has the only clue that explicitly references a Wizard of Oz character (34A: Tin Man's worry), and by extension, the movie itself. You might also throw MEDALS into the theme category since that, admittedly singular, is what is bestowed on the Cowardly Lion. Auntie Em's house and the hot air balloon both LIFTUP. The Wicked Witch CAPTURES the protagonists. And weren't those flying monkeys actually called GROUPONS?..!

  2. I was with you right up until GROUPONS.

    The Tin Man clue is definitely intentional, and I missed it in the review. That's four more letters of theme!

  3. 9:49
    SKIHAT was terrible. Other than that, this puzzle was fine. I originally put QUell in for QUASH, but it was quickly fixed. I'm familiar with Ms. BIALIK. Also, I submit the first portion of 64A as "Huygens Material."

  4. 8:28. Finished this puzzle after the Wednesday puzzle due to being on vacation. So it was strange to have LFRANKBAUM clued in the "day after" puzzle and then finding all of his work referenced in today's puzzle. I didn't love this puzzle. The grid setup is unusual for a Tuesday with only two answers across the top and bottom lines, something we're more used to in a late week puzzle. But we have a ton of three-letter answers, and most of them are crosswordese. Is it nitpicking to want the BRAIN, HEART, and COURAGE to be in the correct order? Oh, well.