Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015, Zhouqin Burnikel


Another likable theme. I didn't understand what it was until after I finished, though, because the clue for 66A was obviously TL:DR material when you're trying to race through a Wednesday grid. All that racing got me nothing, however, because *when I put in the N at the cross of ASTIN (56D: Sean of the "Lord of the Rings" movies) and ONE (72A: "Good ____"), I got the "keep trying" message. Grrr... A quick look around turned up the completely wrong "apr" for SEP (25A: Mo. with Patriot Day). Only an idiot like W. would create a day named "Patriot Day" when we already had a "Patriots' Day." But only a bigger fool turns in his completed grid without checking the crosses!

But I was going to say, when Truth broke in with her matter-of-fact about the holidays, I enjoyed the sort of double-edged "trap" theme. Not only is TRAP hidden in three long Across answers, it intersects with a type of trap in the Vertical. So we get "Bear Trap," "Tourist Trap," and "Rat Trap." Not bad. The only slight downside is that ATRAPLUS (17A: Gillette razor brand) had to be one of the theme answers. Well, at least it's the whole name, and not just "Atra."

And speaking of Star Wars, some of the fill was kicking it old-school. I think 57A: Miler Sebastian (COE) was just hitting his stride, as it were, when Star Wars came out [indeed, he had not yet set the 3:47:33 mark that stood for all the years I was running a much slower mile in my high school track meets], LAMOTTA fought his last fight in the fifties, and even "Raging Bull" came out in 1980, Mel OTT retired (and died) long ago, and ICARUS, well... oh, wait, I liked that one! I also didn't mind OLDLATIN (12D: Cato the Elder's language) even though I'm not sure that's really a thing. I mean, sure, Latin changed some over the years, but do people call it "Old" and "New?" I should know the answer to that, but I don't seem to. And speaking of good old Latin, reading the Aeneid (even excerpts!) comes in handy again today with DIDO (61D: First queen of Carthage). That was Book Four, right?

I liked the hidden capital in 49A: Carrier units, briefly (ACS), but I don't remember the one under that - TCI (55A: Cable co. acquired by AT&T in 1999) at all. Also, it's funny to see MWAH (10D: Sound of an air kiss) (right beside PENELOPE Cruz!) again so soon, isn't it?

Let's see, it's time to make a call .... Thumbs Up! Overall, I liked more than I disliked. Early-week complete. Onward to The Turn!

- Horace


  1. 9:22
    I know DIDO from the Purcell opera, so I can't answer your question. This was nice and clean. I liked REDSTATE, STOGIE, SONATA, TEMPO, ORWELL,and ORCHESTRAPIT the most. I also enjoyed, however, the pair ASS and ASSIST, which may have been unintentional. Is ROTATE "Huygens fill?" I was also impressed with all of the animals in the downs: BEAR, WEASEL, GOAT and RAT, two of whom are seen in "Pearls Before Swine" on a regular basis. Also, nice Frost reference up there.

  2. 10:43 FWOE
    Let me guess, you met Burnikel at the tournament and suggested he work in ICARUS! You rock, Horace!

    Most of this puzzle flowed pretty easily. Seems like I should have finished about 3 minutes earlier, but I initially misread the clue for 5D and entered Egg instead of EEL and initially popuP instead of SLUMP next to it and had to work that through. But the real delay was that I had HOPSoN instead of HOPSIN (35D: Joins for a ride) and didn't remember TCI, so I got the "problem with the puzzle" message and spent a while figuring it out.

    I, too, found MWAH amusing. Indeed the whole NE had some nice stuff, excepting OLDLATIN, which I guessed immediately but didn't enter until there was no way around it. Working in fill like ESCARGOT on a Wednesday also seems particularly impressive.

    Lastly, I also, of course, immediately started to enter APRIL!! for Patriots Day, but did notice there was no "s" on Patriots and begrudgingly changed it to SEP. Still, Horace, you have my empathy for the error and my full agreement about the obliviousness of a president naming a new holiday in apparent complete disregard for the origins our his country and the celebration and recognition thereof.

  3. 7:06
    I liked this one okay. The center is so broken up, with all those annoying little 3-letter answers (SEP, EIS, ACS, TCI, ARR, ESL, ELI, CDC, NSA, LAO). Too many! I also wanted April for the month, but was stuck because I'd already put POSER in. When ESC followed, I knew I had no choice.

    Fortunately there was good fill to make up for some of that junk. ABCNEWS is fine, but ESCARGOT, PENELOPE, and SONATA are better. Why can't we clue the latter with something other than "Moonlight ____"? Why not "Apassionata?" Or "Pathetique?" Or "Waldstein"? Just to name a few Beethoven examples.

    Theme is okay - I like the idea, but ORCHESTRAPIT feels awkward to me. ATRAPLUS is really bleah. The only one I like is BESTRAPALBUM. And TOURIST trap is the best out of the box example.

  4. Also, OLDLATIN is just not right. There's ancient Latin, and there's medieval Latin, or there's church Latin, but "old" Latin? I'm not buying it.

    I take it back: it is a real thing, per Wikipedia. It's the language spoken prior to about 75 BC. There's even a picture of Cato the Elder on the page. It's just not anything I've ever heard anybody say in routine conversation. So I don't like it.