Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunday, May 3, 2015, Dan Schoenholz


Although there was much to like about this puzzle, overall it left me pretty dissatisfied. Too much junk in such a large grid with seven theme answers. I'll get to the theme in a minute, but first, I took the opportunity to write a list of the answers I liked vs the answers I didn't like in the fill. There were 20 in the not-so-good list, and only 10 in the good list. Some examples:

Once again the SW corner is questionable. You have HAMITE above OBOTE above MONT. As it turns out, the crosses were all approchable, so I had no difficulty with it in the end, but that's bunch of blah all right above each other. Just next to it, there is a very strong possibility of a Concord (where a square ends up being a guess) with BHOPAL crossing LIAO. Sloppy, IMO.

There are two really iffy unnecessary plurals. Would anyone really refer to OPENERS in poker? Yes, you need an opener to get the betting started, but more than one? And there are plenty of other ways it could have been clued. And then 91D: Looks inside houses (DECORS) just demands a "huh?" And there's even 21D: Herring relatives (SHADS). In my book, the plural of "shad" is "shad." On researching it, it looks like the -s is acceptable, but I don't like it.

I never heard of ADANO. That D was the last letter entered, for other reasons I'll get to, but my difficulty in that area was not helped by "random place name." I really really dislike YALEU as well.

So, the theme. If it's good enough, it'll more than make up for any glitches encountered in the fill. I liked 2/7 of the answers. ANOOKOFTHENORTH is funny, and EARTOONESHEART is funnier with the clue. I really actively hated ORMANCONQUEST. I guess they're referring to Suze Orman, but it just doesn't work for me. OISEPOLLUTION almost works, and EUROTRANSMITTER almost sounds like a real thing. Meh.

On the plus side: a lot of excellent long down answers, including ANOMALOUS, UNMERITED, as well as BANQUO and EROICA (although I've never loved Beethoven's third that much). 6D: Takes part in a joint session? (SMOKESPOT) has lost some of its thrill over the many times we've seen marijuana referred to in the NYT. I liked the clue for 98D: Canine protector (ENAMEL): a nice non-question-marked misleader of a clue. And CECE made it into the puzzle.

I entered wooING for TAMING (how silly was that?). I had some difficulty, as I said, with DOTTEDI. I had put in lOSs for COST, which I knew was wrong but held on to for too long. AlTI made no sense whatsoever for "Broadway opening." Got it in the end, but not until after filling in the grid, so FWOE, FWIW.

- Colum


  1. Is that your term, "a Concord," or is that another one of Rex's creations? Also, I think the term "openers" is common enough in poker circles. But other than that, I pretty much agree with the criticisms you level. I seem to have liked the theme more than you did (I'm surprised you didn't go for EUROTRANSMITTER, isn't that right up your alley?), but there's a lot of tough, odd stuff that I didn't love. I'm glad you called out SMOKESPOT as being a bit stale. Steinberg just used ONPOT the other day, and I didn't love that, either. The long downs are nice, as you pointed out. I don't know.... maybe I'd call it ok. Oh, and by the way, I also FWOE'd.

    1. Perhaps I was a little harsh on the EUROTRANSMITTER entry.

  2. Big DNF
    The clues in this puzzle were so far out of my wheelhouse, I'd need a brain transplant to get in the game. Even after filling in all the clues Colum included in the review, I couldn't complete the grid. Besides the above mentioned OBOTE, I didn't know BAHT, BOPHAL in this particular context, TIMMARA, or OXLIP, to name just the first that come to mind. And I never got enough of a handle on the theme to help with the problem areas. The few answers I could easily get were the foreign language and literary entries. ADANO popped right in, BTW. "A Bell for Adano" is an excellent novel that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945. I recommend it.

    One clue that on one mentioned yet, that vexes me even as I type is 109D. ___-ready. OVEN-ready. Really??