Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015, Michael Blake


Sort of a 3/4-themed puzzle here: either you go with the NICKELBACK theme, in which case 58A acts as the revealer for 17A and 23A; or you go with American themed entries, where MONTICELLO, AMERICANBISON, and EPLURIBUSUNUM make an eclectic trio. I know the author's intention, I'm just not sure what to do with it. I like the revealer; the entries are fine.

The fill is reasonably good. Always nice to start with some MISO soup (1A: Soy-based soup), especially on such a cold day as it is here in upstate New York. Speaking of which, we're whipping up a batch of lentil soup even as we speak, so to speak. Mmm.

But back to the puzzle. The long answers are both good. 3D: Country in which English and Mandarin are official languages (SINGAPORE) escaped me for a bit, even though I knew what was being asked for. The same actually happened with 34D: Practice game, in sports (SCRIMMAGE). Guess I was having a blank spot for nine-letter answers beginning with S.

We do have a number of meh answers: ECRU, ERES, OSTEO. But let us be thankful: back in the day, it was commonplace to have clues with the annoying "comb." We don't see that any more; instead they're generally referred to as "prefix", "starter", etc. I don't love 6D: It's chalked in a pool hall (CUETIP). I'm not sure it's really a thing to call the end of the stick that.

But we should give a tip of the hat to 33D: Run out of rhythm? (AEIOU). See, the word "rhythm" doesn't have any of those vowels in it. Get it? Took me a while.

A reasonable Tuesday.

- Colum


  1. I don't have any problem with the "back of the nickel" theme. Seems fine if not clever for a Tuesday. Why leave EPLURIBUSUNUM out of the NICKELBACK revealer? I suppose it would make for an even more clumsy clue.

    Now me, I'm clearly too old because if you asked me who was the top rock group of the last decade, NICKELBACK would not have been anywhere on my list. I mean, I did get the answer with only the N & I crosses, so I've heard of NICKELBACK, but name a bunch of songs? Ain't happening..

  2. Favorite bit of trivia learned from this puzzle: ABEL 29D: ____ Prize, annual international award for mathematics. Least favorite bit of fill… it's hard to pick. ULEES is getting pretty old, as are ERES, IRE, ANG and ESL. ATEM is poor, but I kind of liked DAT and AGIN. And what about the bonus theme-ish fill, CARIBOU? I liked it all right, I guess, because I like money. Even nickels. But, like Icarus, I don't care at all about NICKELBACK.

  3. 9:03
    I didn't know ABEL; of course I wanted to squeeze the Fields Medal in there, but it just wouldn't fit. Having recently been there, I filled in SINGAPORE right away (English being the official language is a nice touch in a foreign country, although they call it "Singlish" there due to the odd accent), and having played in many of them, SCRIMMAGE was also a fast entry. I've also recently read a Jefferson biography which had quite a long and interesting discussion on MONTICELLO. I've also recently (within a few years) read the "ANNALs of Tacitus" (43D One year's record), so that came quickly. In short, much of this was easy fill for me. However, like many of you, NICKELBACK wasn't one of the easier answers; I, too, needed a few crosses for that one, and probably couldn't name one song by the popular group.