Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015, Ellen Leuschner and Jeff Chen


A very nicely done theme today. The answers are all phrases that contain the word "or," and instead of including it, the choices branch out from the word before the "or." As in 1A: "Everyone who's anyone is attending!" (BE/THERE/SQUARE) (I have no good way of writing this out), 79A: Stickup line (YOUR/MONEY/LIFE), and 115A: Song by the Clash on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list (SHOULDI/STAY/GO). The down clues including the second part are all clued with a simple hyphen, which is a method we have seen numerous times before. There are only six theme answers, I think, but it's very well done, and the fill is quite good, so I'm not wishing for anything more.

Some standout clues include: 102A: Whistleblower's target? (TAXICAB), 3D: Cartoonist who wrote the caption "Well, if I called the wrong number, why did you answer the phone?" (THURBER), 16D: Rough position (LIE) (although it's called the same thing whether it's on the rough, the fairway, or the green), 47D: Virgil, for Dante (GUIDE) (as you well know, I'm a sucker for a classical reference), the odd 78D: Female with a beard (NANNYGOAT), and 106D: Things found in a pyramid (FOODS).

Even the tiredest of crosswordese get interesting clues, like 34A: Bird that's also the name of an Irish river (ERNE), 49A: Heavy metal band? (ORE), and 64D: One given the velvet rope treatment, for short (VIP). They're trying anyway! There are a lot of threes, though, and we still get some less than stellar clues and fill: 76D: Prefix with -form (AERI), 51A: Some fraternity men (NUS), 40A: Audible pauses (UMS), and 56D: I.C.U. worker (LPN).

Overall, though, this is a very good Sunday. It took our minds off the snow piling ever higher outside (and above the bottom of!) the windows.

- Horace


  1. Well, I too very much enjoyed this puzzle. The theme is very good (there are 7 answers - the three across the top, two 1/3 of the way down, and two across the middle towards the bottom). It took me way too long to figure out: all the way at the bottom with The Clash's song. 1A: BETHERE seemed like it would be enough to fit the clue, while 2D (ESQUARE) seemed peculiar, but I figured it would continue downwards with the clue below or something. FEMPTY at 57D seemed awfully strange, and I didn't understand why HALFFULL was enough to answer the "Proverbial matter of prospective." Seriously. I still didn't get it. Even when I entered IGO at 118D, it took me several seconds to see the connection. An interesting aspect of the theme is that all of the initial words are in symmetric positions, but the split ends vary.

    I see now that I made a mistake in the top middle section, where I misremembered the clue at 10D: Test ___ as "Big ___", so entered BeN. Then I put in IdEST at 11D, imagining that the "Beginning of an attorney's ending" was "that is (i.e.)" instead of "I rest". Which left me with the odd name OHedA for the Mitchell heroine. Strangely, I was thinking of James Clavell, and imagined it was a Japanese name from Shogun or something. How weird it is to look back on a mistake and see how one's justifications fall apart in retrospect.

  2. Seven. Thanks. Rushing a bit too much to get done in time for Downton. Terrible, terrible Downtown Abbey.

  3. 35:11
    These Sunday puzzles seem to be a bit too easy. I wouldn't mind spending an hour on them. That said, this certainly wasn't DRIVEL, so I won't BELABOR my point as some DRDOOM, glass HALF/EMPTY type. Well, that's a bad attempt. Anyway, I'll mention that my favorite theme answer was ISITLIVE/[T]MEMOREX (I don't know if that's any better way of writing it out than the method used by Horace); Memorex was my tape of choice, the 90-min. Chrome variety. I'll mention nothing else other than I remember quite enjoying Asimov's novel NEMESIS. Perhaps I should re-read that sometime.

  4. What was it, the XL-S90? or XL-90S? Or was that the TDKs... it's all fading, fading away...