Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015, Josh Knapp


I had a much harder time with this themeless than yesterday's. It's a beautiful grid, with nice entries of nine or twelve letters from every corner into the middle, which is wide open. There are only ten three-letter answers.

My first entry was 5D, a nice French gimme (SOUS). So glad they use French rather than, say, Finnish in these puzzles. Nothing against Finnish, of course: I know there's some Finnish blood in the creators of this blog. Here's how you say "How are you?" in Finnish: Mita kuuluu. Looks great! On second thought, let's get more Finnish in these puzzles, Mr. Shortz!

I think I got off track there. Although I couldn't figure out 1A (Polishes) just yet, the S I'd entered let me guess at ____SUP for the end of it, so I got URN and PISAN, a great clue for Signor Fibonacci. No math in that clue-answer pair, more's the pity, Huygens. I got SNIT following that, but then was stuck, so I shifted to the NE.

13D: Ten commandments subject led to the correct guess of ADULTERY, and I surmised the unknown SYD from the context. I had wanted to put in BOSPORUS but had hesitated; now it went in, and REPOSTED followed. Funny clue for PLO: they are involved in much diplomacy, mostly because they and their opponent keep on being dragged into it. In that corner, I did not want to put DCCAB in, an answer I only know from doing this puzzle. Apparently Mr. T was in it. More reason to avoid.

Once again stuck, I switched corners, got 58A: Mother who had a bone to pick? (HUBBARD) - Ha! I can't believe I retrieved MUNGO Jerry from the recesses of my mind. The name comes from T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the basis for the musical Cats (I laughed! I cried! It was better than Cats!).

Long story short, I ended up with junk in each corner without a connection until Cece looked over my shoulder and suggested TALE for 53A (Something not to be believed), at which point I finally opened up the middle. 40A: Provider of shock value? (RICHTERSCALE) is a lovely clue, and FORCEMAJEURE is a lovely answer. That ____EURE ending made me question OBE (26D: It's an honour: Abbr. - note the British spelling).

There are also the great entries SIRENSONG, SUBATOMIC, and CORIANDER, all right next to each other, crossing LIONIZE. I don't love AGRO, ROK, or Ad HOC, but they're small complaints.

Best of all? 4D: Cover of the Bible? FIGLEAF!

Thumbs up from me.

- Colum


  1. 45:51

    Excellent review. We'll get that Pulitzer yet! Wait, do they give Pulitzers for blogs? Well, if not, they'll probably open up a new category so they can give one to us. And then I suppose I'll have to put your name on the masthead for real…

    Agreed, it was a lovely puzzle. I got held up in the NE because I was very reluctant to give up "receipt" for 16A: A little reading at the supermarket checkout? (UPCCODE) I suppose "supermarket" makes this UPCCODE and not receipt. Oh well. I'll have to save that one for my own puzzle, if ever I make one.

    We liked many of the clues, including 18A: Seconds (BACKSUP), 2D: Call from on high (UPHERE) (excellent), 17A: Literally, "military commanders" (SHOGUNS), and the Steinbeck quote. RICHTERSCALE might have been my personal favorite. That's very nice.

    Overall, a very high quality puzzle.

  2. 57:44 (FWOE)
    The error was at the cross of SOUS/KELLS (there are very few French gimmes for old Huygens here, and KELLS is unknown to me). Other than that, this puzzle was difficult, but doable. KLATCH (45A Gossipy affair) is very nice, as is LIONIZE (38A Really build up), as well as those clues mentioned above. I didn't know MUNGO, and guessed "Kohls" for 50D (KMART), but slowly changed it as crosses came in. BTW, I remember DCCAB as being somewhat entertaining, but having not seen it for several decades, I could be wrong. I don't think I'll spend any time re-watching it.

  3. Also, I meant to say that "mita kuuluu" is quite familiar to me.