Monday, May 4, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015, Zhouqin Burnikel


I may have overvented some spleen yesterday in this space. Maybe the Sunday puzzle wasn't really that bad. Let's make up for it today.

Except... How come we're starting with 1A: Qatar's capital (DOHA) on a Monday? No, it wasn't hard to get with the crosses, although 4D: "The Passion of the Christ" language (ARAMAIC) took some time to come back to me. It's just that the puzzle played a little tough for a Monday.

Outside of that issue, though, I think it's a pretty good grid with a cute theme: STEPMOM, with four sites (asymmetrically placed) where the word MAMA moves downward in a stepwise fashion. I would have preferred not to have the circles put in for you, because that gives away what's in them once you've broken the theme. It would have been more fun to find them, word-search style, after the fact.

I've never heard of IAMACAMERA, the DRAMA that inspired "Cabaret". It's an interesting bit of trivia. The other long answers are high quality, especially ASIFICARE (excellent) and AHAMOMENT. RADARBLIP is unusual, and LIONTAMER and HAMANDEGGS are fine.

My favorite clue was 54D: Bollywood wraps (SARIS), because it sounded like "it's a wrap," which you'd say at the end of a movie, see. How weird is it that we get EROICA again, so soon? Huygens might enjoy 8D and 70A (less so), but did we need 2D: Toilet seats, geometrically (OVALS)? Couldn't it have been "Cricket pitches, geometrically"? So much more tasteful.

I enjoyed the references to NAPLES (Anglicized) and ROMA (not Anglicized), as they were two places I once was... over a year ago now (sniff). Also PESOS right above ENERO made me wonder what a puzzle made up entirely of answers in foreign languages would be like. Probably not something anybody would really like.

- Colum


  1. 5:50

    You might be able to find such a puzzle in France, for instance. :) Also, it might be interesting to have a puzzle where all the Downs were foreign, and all the Acrosses were English. Or maybe not. Who knows. It's probably been done, but I doubt Mr. Shortz would accept such an abomination.

    I did this puzzle on the iPad (it's been a while) while I had coffee at lunch today. I never called Mom "Mama," so I didn't love the theme, but nobody really loves circles anyway, do they? Also, I didn't bother to even look into the theme while I was solving, so it didn't really give anything away.

    I, too, like the long stuff. SAMADAMS is a good beer, but I'd rather have him clued with the epithet from his statue in front of Faneuil Hall, "Fearless. Incorruptible." Not a bad way to be memorialized.

    Yes - weird about EROICA, and yes - bad clue for OVALS. Yuck. But overall, a good Monday.

    - Horace

    1. Do you find your times are better on the iPad or on paper?

    2. It's iPad or full keyboard on the laptop, and I think they are much better with full keyboard. Well, "much" might be overstating it, but I'm pretty sure that being able to type with all fingers is better for me than typing with thumbs only. The first and last times I was timed on paper this year was at the tournament!

    3. Right. That makes more sense!

  2. 7:10
    I'm back now. I filled in DOHA right away because Sue and I will be stopping there, briefly, on our way to Bali next March; we're flying Qatar Air. I happened to star, Colum, both 70A and 8D, although thoughts of the latter far from entice me. I also starred 29D Idiots (DOPES) for a reason that escapes me, but probably just because I liked both words; one would never see such terminology in the Worcester Telegram puzzles. Interesting that both ROMA and OMAR (37A Poet _____ Khayyam) are in the grid since they are simple rearrangements of each other. I agree on the niceness of the long answers. This, IMO, is a good difficulty level for a NYT Monday offering.