Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday, March 8, 2015, Tom McCoy

3.1415926 ...

Pi day is nearly upon us, and this year, we will be as close as you can get to the actual approximation, on 3/14/15. So we get a puzzle that celebrates the famous irrational number. If the theme had not been clear from the title, the massive pi sitting in the middle of the grid would have alerted you.

Strangely, though, the amount of theme is less than you might have expected. You get the mnemonic for recalling the first 8 digits at 69A, 94A, and 72A (HOWIWISH/ ICOULDCALCULATE/ PIEASILY). Then there are 5 rebuses only, where you read "PI" down and "TT" across, which was an interesting surprise, and one we uncovered in the SW corner where we had STU[PI]D and then tried to figure out why TA[PI]LE meant "Snitch". And yes, there is a sort of theme answer at 50D: Pie part (that's appropriately placed in this puzzle?) (FILLING). Why the question mark? I have no answer for you.

On the plus side, because there is so little theme comparatively, there is more chance for good fill. ETRUSCAN, EGOMANIA, OSMOSIS, ANGST, SESAMESEEDS, and others were nice choices. There was some very nice cluing along the way as well. I particularly liked 82A: Israeli diet (KNESSET), 107A: It's revolting (MUTINY), 123A: 1/2, for one (DATE), 58D: Threatens, as a king (CHECKS), 94D: It always points down (ICICLE), and maybe my favorite, 105D: More work (UTO[PI]A), with a truly lovely hidden capital. Note how none of those clues has a question mark!

I enjoyed the shout-outs to NEIL Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, Ben STILLER and Parker POSEY. The KREMLIN was a surprising "One end of the hotline". Good trivia for SSN (88A: It never starts with 666: Abbr.)

I was initially certain that Jack Point asked "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" (26A), but no, it was the MADHA[TT]ER. Jack Point asked "why a cook's brainpan is like an overwound clock?" Both conundrums are unanswered. In response to Lewis Carroll's riddle, Aldous Huxley stated: "Because there is a B in 'both' and an N in 'neither'."

On the downside, I did not enjoy crosswordese ETUI crossing crosswordese IOTA. ESAU also made his way into the grid. And I have to raise a question for the strange cross-referencing of 11D: - and 12D: Like the previous clue (which originally read "Place of Jewish worship"). I don't see how that dash represents an ERASED clue. It should have been completely blank.

Cece and I had fun doing this one together, and that makes it a thumbs up.

- Colum


  1. 67:10
    I got the "Puzzle Completely Filled" dialogue box and searched and searched for a mistake. It turns out that if one uses "TT" in some of the rebus squares, one must use it in all of them. I mixed it up a bit, putting "PI" in for one of them and it doesn't accept that, so there really wasn't an error; it was just a quirk of the electronic puzzle. Anyway, I loved the theme and the puzzle itself. It was appropriately difficult for a Sunday, taking me, in essence, about an hour, which is my desire. ETRUSCAN, of course, reminded me of a recent trip during which we walked through and photographed ourselves with the oldest extant Etruscan arch in the world (in Volterra, Italy). (BOAR also reminded me of that same trip, even though we didn't eat any of the wild boar offered on all menus over there.) TOKYO Bay also reminded me of a recent, but different, trip. Grossest clue/answer: 113A Belch (ERUCT).

    1. I too have been at that arch in Volterra. Lovely memories!

  2. I, too, very much enjoyed this puzzle. I thought it was full of great stuff, much of which has already been addressed. This form of SCUD was unfamiliar to me, but I've got to say I'm glad to learn it. Now I can hear, and maybe even use, this word without being reminded of the Gulf War!

    Practice runners: Abbr. (DRS), Trips up? (ASCENTS), CRAPSHOOT, are a few more I liked.

    I agree with you about the erased clue, but not about the paucity of theme. I think the five rebus squares, the three parts of the mnemonic, and the overall shape of the grid are plenty. I can't even imagine how hard it would be to place symmetrical TT/PI rebuses in a grid like this.

    Favorite fill - EUROS, because just four days ago I was spending them! sigh...

    1. Well, I'm sure you'll be spending them again soon.