Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015, John Westwig


And so the streak of sub-4 minute Mondays comes to a close. I was in trouble from the get-go, when I put "awaken" for 2D: "Rise and shine!" (WAKEUP, a much better and straightforward answer). Even once I got going in that corner, I put "weaK" for MEEK, which slowed me down. Plus I didn't know AKIOMORITA, a way-above-typical difficulty theme answer for a Monday.

Overall, I'd say this puzzle skewed hard, more like a Tuesday into Wednesday level, but I liked it. Both the NW and SE corners are solid groups of answers, including AGEGAP, DESADE, and SKEWER. The NE and SW also have pairs of 8-letter down answers that work very well. EDHARRIS next to NEUTRINO is lovely, and OLDMONEY and ROBINSON are fine as well.

Very little to complain about in the fill. I like how PHAT is clued as "dated slang". Excellent to recognize that we're in 2015, not 2001. And I certainly don't see it as a duplication to have FAT in the grid as well. INO is truly obscure, as is CLU Gulager. TIN is clued well with the symbol Sn (for the Latin stannum). I spent about 30 seconds staring at the cross of ROW and WARDS. I was stuck on actual chess pieces for 40D, missing the obvious, and _ARDS wasn't helping for a long time.

The theme was obscure to me even after I finished the entire grid. In fact, it's referring to the fact that each of the named personages have the initials A.M., thus making them MORNINGPERSONS of a sort. I don't know how impressive it is to come up with four people who have those initials, and whose names in their most familiar entirety are made up of 10 letters. All four are reasonably famous; ANDYMURRAY and ALMICHAELS are fairly relevant. ALIMACGRAW is famous for the movie she is clued by. And I already discussed the first.

I'd say a well above average puzzle, but maybe misplaced in the week.

- Colum


  1. 0:04:16

    If not for Mr. Morita, I might well have been under 4 here. I foundered up top (sorry Huygens... I know I was still sub-five, but really, I left a lot blank up there on my first pass), but went through the bottom like a hot knife through butter. The only theme person I knew off the bat was ALMICHAELS, but I was mostly working the Downs, so it didn't really matter.

    Up top, CHILD (7D: Parent's counterpart) and RATTY (8D: In bad condition) did not come without crosses. Nor did EDHARRIS, for that matter. Is it weird to have another full name in the grid when the whole theme is full names? It is a little, I think. And speaking of the theme, thanks for spelling it out for me. I finished it and then just thought "How were we supposed to know they were morning people?" Heh. I'm an idiot.

    1. Nice time, Horace! So close, and on a puzzle I found more challenging than most Mondays.

  2. p.s. We saw a VOLT on the road yesterday, and it was a fine choice to go with ELIZA over ALIMACGRAW or ALMICHAELS. Any excuse to post a photo of Audrey H. is fine by me. And lastly, is WAKEUP a little bonus theme? And lastly, lastly, is REARUP next to DESADE intentional?

  3. I didn't time this--I find them more fun and more able to be savored when I don't time them--but it offered almost no resistance whatsoever. In other words, I probably would have come in around 6:00. Interesting, Colum, that you mention the solid groups of answers. I thought the exact same thing. I even wrote down MEEK/PUCE/SPENT, APRON/CHILD/RATTY, and AGLOW/ELIZA/LEMON. They all almost go together, don't they? Horace, I did think the same thing about REARUP and DESADE; I even added SKEWER to the thematic group. This was just quality all the way around. Great Monday theme! Love your take on PHAT, Colum. I thought that was pretty nice cluing, as well. And, yes, Ino is certainly a "deep cut" among the gods. There are actually 21 3-letter entries in here, but I don't think you realize that during the solve. Most are just regular words that don't stand out. Sure, you've got the work horses MGM, ABS, and PTA, but I can accept those with so much excellent longer fill. SIM might raise eyebrows, but I can't decide if that's weak or current. I've been thinking recently that your extreme NW corner should shine, and it certainly does here--for a Monday--with SWABS and SCAMPS. Finally, I always love seeing BOZO--the word just amuses me--and any reference to the "Batman" TV series. Thumbs way up for an easy but extremely satisfying early week effort.

  4. 6:39
    I don't think that CLU Gulager is that obscure. I don't have much to add to the nice reviews above other than Sue and I routinely drink ginger tea out of a 25000-YEN tea cup set each evening. Impressive, no?