Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015, Joe Krozel


I'm writing this review at halftime of the Packers-Seahawks game. Still 30 minutes to go, but it looks an awful lot like the Pack's going to the Super Bowl. Hope the Pats get there also!

This puzzle left me a bit cold. The theme is fine, as far as it goes. Twenty letters of four-letter words, differing by only one letter each time, with clues that attempt to make sense of the tortured results. The best one is KIDS/KISS/MISS/MOSS/MOST: at least it makes grammatical sense. On the other side, WILT/WILL/FILL/FULL/FUEL? It just doesn't parse. And LOUD/LOUT/LOST/LAST/CAST is just nonsense.

Once I understood the theme, figuring out the words was enjoyable in a Games magazine sort of way. The problem from a crosswording standpoint is that the extremely long entries are the only passage from one section to another. In fact, until I gathered what the trick was, I was essentially filling in random clues that I could just get, rather than doing what makes crosswords fun; namely, crossing words. It's the old problem of dividing a (large) grid into tiny 5x4 or 4x4 mini-puzzles.

And I suppose it would have been better if the remainder of the fill was anything to write home about. But instead we have Lena OLIN, Sheriff LOBO, NOTI, ISL, HULL, ALAW, ENOS, and a host of others, too numerous to enumerate here.

Clues I did like? 90D: Non-PC person (MACUSER). That's good stuff. Three different "This and that" clues, (1D, 12D, and 34D), leading to BOTH, OLIO, MISC. Unfortunately, the latter two are really things I'd rather not see in the puzzle. I enjoyed 52A: Word after camper or before Camp's (VAN). I also liked 29D: Bombay and Boodles (GINS), but what's with the unnecessary plural?

SAABS? That's what we're all doing with a puzzle like this.

- Colum


  1. 32:17
    I loved it because I got the "Congratulations" box as soon as I hit my last entry. Sure, the fill was tortured in many spots, but there are lots of letters there in the grid. OAHU and LUAU were both in there, reminding me fondly of our Hawai'i trip, now four years in our past. Also in there was CIAO which brought to mind another trip that we took, now nearly three years past, even though that term was not used by either Sue or me. OK, how about PEATS (117A Bog accumulations) for an unnecessary plural. I did like the raft of sister answers, though (EATS, CLEATS, SEAT and SCOTCH). My favorite of the theme answers was PALEPALSPASSLASSLESS. Finally, I enjoyed the pair FOXY / KUNIS, unintentional as it may have been.

  2. We did not get the "Congratulations!" box right away. In fact, it took us quite some time to discover that I had entered SeAM for SCAM (66A: Arrangement of hosing?) It makes about as much sense either way, it seems to me, and I don't know my DSCS from my DSeS, so that really didn't help.

    I wasn't crazy about the theme, but I suppose they have to do something. I enjoyed being reminded of the word SCOTCH (48A: Put an end to), I liked the clue for CANAL (54A: It may go from sea to shining sea), and wouldn't you know it, we were fooled yet again by 51A: Catastrophic start or end? (CEE). When oh when…

    Funny about the Packers, eh? Well, it just makes the Superbowl easier to root for for us. Our affections are somewhat split between Wisconsin and New England, but we have no love for Seattle. Sure, it's a great town and all… but c'mon.