Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015, Kevin Christian and Brad Wilber


Happy Bastille Day!

Wait... not those guys?

Oh. I see. Anyway, today we're apparently celebrating this guy instead:

Not because it's his birthday or death day (he died 24 years ago!), but just because. Pretty nice to find three titles of his that are 15 letters long, although the third one (IFIRANTHECIRCUS) is not in the major arcana, as it were. We also have space for two more iconic titles, THELORAX, and HOPONPOP, which was always one of my favorites. And the author gets his name in at 54D.

That's 65 squares devoted to the theme, which makes the pretty decent fill that much more enjoyable. 20A: Easily bruised thing for half the world (MALEEGO) gets my nod for best clue and answer. I'm not convinced about EMOBANDS - do all such bands have songs with "confessional lyrics?" Apparently so, according to Wikipedia. Hmmm. I like some songs by Death Cab For Cutie.

I would have liked POGO to be clued to:

But do people know who that is any more?

TENTPEG took me a while to get for some reason, as did TOOGOOD. 25A: Satyrs' quarries (NYMPHS) is excellent classics stuff. I also enjoyed MRED and his HAY.

There are a few answers I could do without (DER, ESS, TES, RAS), but acceptable with the rest of the puzzle.

- Colum


  1. Colum, we have a few things in common, it seems. I thought the same thing about the cluing for POGO. Also, HOPONPOP was one of my favorite books to read to Buddy when he was young. "Red Ned Ted and Ed in bed" really brought on a wave of nostalgia. I hate to keep bringing up your competition, but Rex really had a cow over MALEEGO. Quite an embarrassing rant, really. You should check it out for a laugh or a disgust. I thought the cluing was amusingly whimsical (but then again, my MALEEGO can't be touched; right Horace?) Funny that you call out DER, ESS, TES, and RAS. Funny because I had too much time on my hands this morning and I made an extensive study of all the 3-letter words in this grid. There are 28. I got to thinking, what constitutes a sub-par 3-letter entry? Are any 3-letter words inherently exciting, fresh, innovative, clever? Here's the breakdown for this puzzle: 1 contraction, 3 proper names, 6 abbreviations, 14 common nouns, 3 foreign words, and 1 onomatopoetic word. I love UGH, IRE, CUE, GOO, ESP, and NCO because of the cluing--especially CUE and GOO. DER I thought was nicely specific; FAR has a topical clue since the movie came out recently (and I just read the book). ESS is indeed weak, especially since it's down there in the SE corner with ESP and TSPS. Generally, I don't mind the foreign language ones since they teach you something (one of these days I'm going to confidently put in "esos"). The two here that I dislike are ETS and RAS. Plurals of abbreviations are not good. So, I guess 93% is pretty good for old Christian and Wilber (I know it's a homonym, but maybe that's why we get the MRED entry!) I will continue to study 3-letter fill, but for now I say, if you're going to use them, avoid plural abbreviations and non-words and try to clue some of them cleverly or amusingly.

  2. 0:07:45

    I go Pogo! And it's just a shame that "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" couldn't have been worked in somehow. That's where me and Dr. Seuss meet. There and "Yertle the Turtle," and, of course, "Bartholomew and the Oobleck!" So terrifying!

    As ET59 knows, I left my MALEEGO at the door ages ago, and I don't know what it is about him, but something is definitely too fragile chez lui. :) That aside, he is absolutely right about the three-letter fill. It's all about the cluing. Good cluing gets forgiveness or better, lazy cluing gets what it deserves. GOO is excellent, and I'm sure you like CUE partly, at least, because it reminds you of Andy Capp. (We were on the topic of old cartoons, weren't we?)

    - Horace

  3. Yay that everybody here knows what I was talking about. I did read Rex' rant about MALEEGO (and it was echoed elsewhere in the NYTXword blogosphere). I don't care that it's not true that every man's ego is easily bruised. It's a cliche, I know, but the reference was immediately gettable, and amusing. So there.

  4. 10:34
    Nice analysis, ET59! You were able to get a couple of hours off of work? I loved the cluing for MRED (starred) and the puzzle's theme; of course, the Seuss canon was present in my house and made up the majority of nightly reading to my own children at bedtime. I loved that the puzzle started with the three-letter RUM, something that I've been meaning to get more of in my own diet.

  5. Thanks, Huygens. Summer school doesn't start until Monday. Also, I meant to write "common words" instead of "common nouns" in my analysis of the 3-letter words. A few of those, obviously, are not nouns.