Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015, John Farmer


Before I figured out the theme as a whole, I came across 20A: Best Picture between "The Last Emperor" and "Driving Miss Daisy", and I thought to myself, that must have been right around Rain Man, right? But it didn't fit, so I moved on. I did briefly wonder whether there would be a rebus.

Later on I noticed the presence of several "man" triplets throughout the puzzle. Somehow the theme eluded me even then. I had a strange time staring at 53A: Central American capital, and wondering what on Earth was going on when I could think of no city that started with Ag__.

So, really, a pretty darn clever theme, once revealed by CUTOUTTHE/MIDDLEMAN. The missing "man" from three answers is in between two other "man" in other clues, thus giving us RAIN[MAN], THEICE[MAN]COMETH, and [MAN]AGUA. I love it!

It was unfortunate to start with 1A: Maria's "those" (ESAS), which I think I may have complained about in the past. And there are 24 3-letter answers, which will stretch the ability of any puzzle crafter to come up with excellent fill. Despite that, there was some good cluing, including 6D: Queen's pawn? (ANT) and 43: Span of attention? (ERA). I still don't get 24D: Chapter seven? (ETA). I get that eta is the seventh Greek letter, but why chapter? Anybody explain for me?

Other things I liked: 32A: Offer? (HITMAN). That's pretty darn funny. SACKLUNCH is a nice non-theme entry. EMAILLIST is okay. GHERKIN and LUNATIC are a couple of great longer down clues. Kind of weird to have MODELA cross SCLASS. We also get Columbus represented twice in PINTA and MDII (Year of his last voyage).

And what's with the obsession with the movie Rio recently? I didn't even see it.

In keeping with the theme of the week in pictures:

- Colum


  1. I didn't get it until just now as I read your review, but now I see that "Chapter" in the clue must refer to Fraternity and Sorority chapters, and they, of course, are known for their use of Greek letters.

    I had a similar solving experience - half-expecting a rebus. I got the revealer early, and then saw lots of "MAN" entries and I was still confused, because, like you, I didn't know any capitals beginning with "AG" and I kept thinking that the movie must be "Reds," even though I knew it was the wrong year. Not to mention the fact that it didn't win. Anyway, it eventually came to me as I watched Frannie fill some answers in. Very nice.

    Wasn't it odd, too, that the "Rio" clue was in the same corner as yesterday? And yes, the MODELA/SCLASS cross was very nice.

    As for the photo, I see that you're going with His Girl Friday, which is a nice nod to MANFRIDAY, and it's another female actress, but "silent" she is not!

    1. Who could resist Mame in a black and white superfast talkie with Cary Grant?

  2. Oh, and 51A: Certain dressing (RANCH) kind of annoyed me until I came to 64A: Certain dress (SARI). Heh. And speaking of decent clues, I also liked 6D: Queen's pawn? (ANT). It's funny because it's true.

  3. Oh, and one more thing - I thought I heard on some PBS special that ANY flying machine that the president was in is called "Air Force One," but I could easily be mistaken about that. Any corroboration on either side?

  4. Update: Wikipedia agrees with the puzzle. I stand corrected.

  5. 38:11
    Of course...the helicopter is MARINE One; the Air Force doesn't have helicopters, at least no awesome ones like that. And don't people notice that it's always a Marine standing outside of it? They clearly have the sharpest uniforms. The USAF uniforms are blah; I should know since I own some. Let's see...I starred 40A Procrastinator's time (MANANA) as illegal and offensive. Are Spanish-speakers inherently procrastinators, so that it's understood that the answer would be in that language? I liked 46A Twit (ASS), but no one, at least no one of discerning taste, enjoys a GHERKIN. 15D Nut (LUNATIC) was excellent, as was the previously-mentioned ERA (great clue!). My final comment is on 40D Butterfly and others (MADAMES); this was also excellent. I was thinking for far too long of the swimming stroke.