Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015, Finn Vigeland


Cece started this puzzle while I was doing the dishes from breakfast. While Horace and Frannie gad about in Paris, we had Phoebe's pen-pal friend and her stepsister, from Beaune and Dijon respectively, so there was a Gallic feeling here as well. We fed them pancakes, scrambled eggs, and pepper-encrusted bacon pour le petit déjeuner américain. Not so petit, actually. The bacon is from a bacon-of-the-month club I got for Christmas, and was very delicious.

Um, I got sidetracked.

Right, the puzzle. So, Cece started it, calling out clues, after announcing the title. When 49A: Opening lyric of 118-Across was called out, the theme fell in seconds. Not really difficult after the recent Oscars telecast, where the only thing that was truly astonishing was how beautifully Lady Gaga sang the medley from THESOUNDOFMUSIC. "Boyhood" should have won, says I, who never saw "Birdman." Of the long theme answers, the only one I'm not fond of is BESTPICTUREOSCAR. I mean, yes, it's correct, only it's not something you say. "Academy award for best picture," or "Oscar for best picture." The other way around feels awkward.

What took way too long, however, was the rebus that tied everything together. It's a great idea, with DO-RE-MI-FA-SOL-LA-TI-DO rising up like a scale from the bottom left-hand corner to the top right-hand corner. Cece actually suggested a rebus when we tried to put ESSEN[TI]AL into one too few squares available, but I pooh-poohed it. The theme was already obvious. What could the rebus be?

It became apparent to me when I had SASHI_ and _SSU__. The [MI] went in, and then the whole rest of the puzzle went quickly thereafter. It made much more sense out of 85D: Part of the food pyramid ([FA]TS instead of aTS) and 12D: 1961 Disney villainess (CRUEL[LA]), where I was sure that one L looked off.

Other clues I liked included the Tchaikovsky quote for MOZART (always knew Pyotr worshipped Wolfgang), 66D: Cave opening? (HARDC), and 64A: Raid target (ROACH) with its hidden capital. Although I don't like the image, come to think of it. 90A: Port authority? (WINO) is almost a good clue, but I rather suspect your run-of-the-mill alkie is not imbibing a 20-year-old Tawny.

The degree of dross in the grid is reasonably minimal for so much theme. Overall I'm giving it a thumbs up.

- Colum


  1. 45:27
    Once I realized that there was a rebus this thing was over in five minutes. The rest of the time was trying to fit things in that didn't. The theme was easy and once that was figured out the long answers went in with no problem. Sue and I were recently in EPCOT, and even though it's often seen in puzzles it warmly brought that trip back to mind. While there we enjoyed some SASHI[MI] for lunch in Japan with a nice sake flight. Horace was in a bacon-of-the-month club a few years back. I liked the TIPSY/WINO pairing, even though the point is taken on a wino enjoying any good port. I thought that today's offering was appropriately difficult and the rebus was a pleasant surprise. I also give it a thumbs-up.

  2. We're spending our last night in the City of Light in our hotel room on the Ile Saint Louis with a baguette, two hunks of cheese bought at the "cremerie" across the street, and a couple bottles of wine bought at a Nicholas on the left bank, while watching a dubbed version of "Endeavor." I, too, pooh-poohed the idea of a rebus on that very same clue - ESSEN[TI]AL - before finally giving in to it at 45D: "_____ de México (Mexico City daily) (EL[SOL]). It's a lovely symmetrical, though not even (wouldn't it have been great if they could somehow have made it "two whole and a half, three whole and a half?), progression up the musical scale. There's a ton of theme in here and, as you say, very little to groan about. It might be the wine talking, but we loved it!