Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015, Jim Quinlan


This is an odd theme, to be sure. We take common words (well, sometimes common, sometimes not, as I'll discuss below) where the second part of the word can be reinterpreted as a verb, and then make them contractions with "not" to amusing ends. I liked it very much when I first came across CATSCANT (23A: Jazz players are incapable). I liked it less with BUSHWASNT (35A: W. never existed). I mean, "bushwa"? Is that the underlying word? Apparently it means nonsense, which is what happened here. Where did the S in the final answer come from?

KATYDIDNT (55A: Singer Perry opted out) is straightforward and acceptable. ANIMUSTNT (18A: Singer DiFranco should heed a warning) comes close to working. But the T is again added in, and the word "animus" does not sound like "Ani must" because of that missing T. And then we get MATHISNT (49A: Calculus disappears). "Mathis"?! This is not a common word. It is a name (Johnny Mathis springs to mind), but then it's the only name used in the set of theme answers. I'm going to cry foul. I will say I liked the clues a lot, but I'm not sure why they're in italics.

I have to say that I thought I was going to love the puzzle from the NW section. OBAMA crossed with BIGEARS is great. I like ADOPTED and any reference to MARISA Tomei is a winner in my book. And there's lots of great stuff in the rest of the grid as well. SASHIMI next to TINYTIM. TOTEBAG and VANGOGH. I like PEERAGE, and OCTET above LOWNOTE is fun.

I didn't like the middle section, with OASES and OESTE right near each other, but they support CROUTON and KENNETH, so I can't complain too much. I've never heard of a SKIBOB, but it looks like a ton of fun.

There's some crosswordese scattered around, but I won't complain too much about it. Overall, the fill made up for the strangeness of the theme, and I guess that's what Wednesday is all about.

- Colum


  1. 10:47
    Not too far off from Colum's time. I don't mind the extra letters in the theme answers mentioned by the reviewer, above; they were necessary prices to pay for this good Wednesday puzzle. BTW, not to be a spoiler, but in the Thursday puzzle, ..., well, maybe I won't mention it until the blog for that puzzle goes up. I liked the fact that MARISA was the answer instead of the more-often seen "Tomei." VANGOGH right next to ART is a nice touch. I never heard of SKIBOB, either, and probably will never try it. Sue and I have discussed getting a "water bike" for the pond, but have yet to do it.We had the side-by-side product placement of KIX and COLGATE with the not-too-far-away BENGAY, which could have been clued more amusingly, as could have MONTE with a reference to the play/movie. I just wore my KENNETH Cole suit recently at a birthday gathering for my father, and just enjoyed a great deal of SASHIMI at Baba Sushi in Worcester with Sue, although I must say that Kaizen in Sturbridge still ranks at the top of my list, followed by Haru Sushi in Boston.

  2. 15:31

    Haru Sushi had a kind of "crunchy" sushi roll that I had never experienced before. It was great! But I'm not sure it's better than Kaizen, either. Of course, my favorite must be my own local, Asai. The homey-ness and the familiarity with the wait staff and owners can count for a lot. I'm pretty sure they've been giving us a double-portion of kimchi for years, just because they know we like it so much.

    Oh, sorry, I thought I was commenting on the sushi blog there for a second. Maybe this is the puzzle I thought was harder than normal... I seem to have been about 50% slower than you two. The theme answers made me smile, and so I guess I can give them the extra letters, too. Sometimes it can be about a feeling rather than about perfection, and sometimes a feeling is better than perfection, isn't it? Not more than twenty minutes ago I was biking along the streets of Utrecht on a rented three-speed. The seat was uncomfortable, the bike did not fit me well, but the feeling of riding through a city with hundreds of other people - getting passed by young boys and women in heels, and passing mothers toting two kids and groceries, well, the feeling was great!

    Oh, wait, I thought I was commenting on the biking blog there for a second...

    I liked it fine for a Wednesday. And now I can't wait to hear what Huygens has to say about the Thursday puzzle!

    1. Well, sorry to disappoint; I think it was just an ATRAIN observation, but I didn't want to say anything before people had a chance to complete the Thursday puzzle. Anyway, familiarity with the wait staff does count for a great deal, but I think that the quality of the food at the Kaizen surpasses the other mentions. I'll continue to keep an open mind, though, but even in Japan we didn't come across its equal.