Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014, Stu Ockman


MAKEHASTESLOWLY (22A: Oxymoron for cautious travel) my foot! It seemed like a pretty fast solve for a Wednesday, but after my troubles yesterday, I'll take it.

ASTHICKASABRICK (50A: Simile for denseness) makes us think of the classic Jethro Tull album (although he didn't use the first "as"). So what is it, just a figure of speech theme? Hyperbole, Oxymoron, Litotes, and Simile? The only one that people might not know for sure, I'm guessing, is litotes, but who knows… maybe I overestimate people. Or underestimate them. 

GALLEONS (4D: Many Spanish Armada ships) is lovely. And speaking of overestimating people, you might have guessed I'd know whence "Ave Maria," but no, I learned it from this puzzle. OTELLO (12D: Opera with "Ave Maria"). 

I didn't love KUE (55D: Scrabble 10-pointer, spelled out). I think "cue" Googles a bit better (in my ten-second search), but I wanted "kew" instead, but then, that was already in the grid… KEW (52D: London's ____ Gardens). KUE sounds more European, where they don't have that diphthong-y sound, but say it more like "coo." Oh well. NENE (56A: Leakes of reality TV) was a tough clue I'd never seen for that before, nor was I familiar with ADELA (21A: Writer ____ Rogers St. Johns), or RITT (16A: "Nuts" director Martin), or LUKAS (6D: "Last Days" actor Haas), or UTHER (46D: King Arthur's father ____ Pendragon).

I guess four fifteens is a decent amount of fill, and the phrases are all decent, so even though the fill is a bit strained (TRITEST, EELER, ANIS), and it's packed with obscure names, I still didn't really think it was terrible. Let's call it a wash.

- Horace


  1. 8:08. I'm not unfond of litotes, and you certainly don't underestimate your readers. Similes are as common as pigeons, honestly, and I would have liked a reference to Jethro Tull for ASTHICKASABRICK, although the first "as" isn't in that song. A well chosen oxymoron is awfully good, and make you sound crazy smart. But in the end, anyone who says this is the best puzzle ever is indulging in hyperbole.

    Yeah. Way too much poor fill, I'm sure driven by having the 15 letter answers only two rows apart. MTETNA, I'm looking at you. FIVEWS, you come a close second. And AROAR? Gah.

  2. 19:08 (FWOE)
    You're both crazy; the lyrics include the first "as" a few times in the song, it's just not in the title. Anyway, I didn't know the NENE/UTHER cross (I tried an "a" in there first). I learned of a LITOTE from the famous "Pirannah Brothers" sketch on Monty Python:

    "Vercotti Doug (takes a drink) I was terrified of him. Everyone was terrified of Doug. I've seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was frightened of Doug.
    Interviewer What did he do?
    Vercotti He used sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire."

    But c'mon, how about the ZILCH/ZIPIT cross? That was very nice indeed. And I didn't know it outright, but I filled in OTELLO with only the first "o" for a cross. I liked the puzzle fine, but I wonder why the choice was made to clue NENE with the reality TV person (unknown to many of us, I'm sure) instead of the Hawaiian bird. Terrible choice.

  3. Very nice review, Colum. I suppose I should have done something clever like that. I'll claim illness, as I've been battling a cold all week. (Heck, I'll even blame all the FWOEs on that!)

    And Huygens, it's been a while since I've heard that song, but I don't even remember it much in the lyrics. But I could, of course, be mistaken. I am sick after all...