Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday, July 22, 2015, Peter A. Collins


This puzzle felt like it played old, a little out of date. It started with SHAG, a remnant of the 70s. It then proceeded with AOL, a really retro company that honestly only lives on in crosswords due to its odd combination of common letters. RODLAVER and Mark SPITZ gave more love to the 70s. And why clue NOBEL to the 1984 prize given to Desmond Tutu? Why not reference Malala Yousafzai, a much more relevant personage, and well enough known to make it a straightforward clue?

Just to continue the GRIPE parade, I'm not sure about having EVE and EVA in the same puzzle, even if the latter is part of (yet another) obscure airline. And then we have a series of unpleasant abbreviations. INSP and IDENT are questionable at best. ADM is clued to Hyman Rickover, a naval officer whose dates are 1900-1986, and thus is unknown to probably half of the solving crowd (although I will give a shout-out to the Jewish admiral - didn't know we had any of the tribe in that position).

On the plus side, I enjoyed ROSSINI at 1D. I liked both the NW and the SE's trios of 7-letter down answers, although INHUMAN seemed somewhat misclued with "Barbaric". SHERPA and ZORRO were also welcome entries.

But I haven't even gotten to the theme yet. I love the revealer, CHOPPEDLIVER, although I would have preferred some kind of reference to the phrase, "What am I, chopped liver?!" The revealer was completely necessary, as the anagrams were split across two words in each of the theme answers, hiding them effectively. It's kind of funny that SUPERVILLAIN doesn't have "evil" inside of it, but DEVILRAYS does. SAVILEROW is a wonderful answer. NAVELRING, on the other hand...

I'm not convinced.

Definitely a mixed bag today. I'll give it a slight thumbs up.

- Colum


  1. I liked this one a lot better than you did, I guess. Very nice Wednesday theme, and none of the fill really bothered me except IDENT, which is worse than questionable. I consider it virtually unacceptable. IDENT does not exist--as a word, as a verbal shortening, or as an abbreviation. INSP can at least pass as a valid abbreviation. I didn't mind the 'old," as much of it was right in my nostalgic wheelhouse. One you didn't mention brought the biggest wave of warm fuzzies. Man, how much did I love Carson's iconic SEER, sage, and soothsayer Carnac! Loved the great Mark SPITZ, as well. That was the first Olympics that brother Rich and I followed closely. And "Rocky," for which Bill CONTI wrote the score, is in my Mythical Top 20 movies. SHAG could have been redeemed with a clue along the lines of the one for "phat" a couple days ago. Some acknowledgement that no one ever buys it anymore would have been nice. Still, this had a lot more good than poor for me. Two thumbs up! Incidentally, I did this one about 20 or 30 seconds faster than Tuesday's. Nice pics, Colum. I can't decide if that second one is sexy or disgusting. If we could just dolly back a bit, I would surely give you a definitive answer.

  2. 13:33
    That second photo is not disgusting, ET59. How old are you again? Anyway, I also liked this puzzle. The theme was amusing and the theme answers were all great, except for DEVILRAYS, which is a yucky sports reference. I agree, however, with IDENT, and I don't really like RETAG (19A Mark up or down, say) too much. I also agree with most of Colum's call-outs on some of the three-letter answers, but INTOTO, the remainder of the puzzle makes up for it. Nice pairing of ZIG/ZAG on opposite corners. My only beef is that both 17A and 18A could have been clued more racily, IMO, but at least they were clued in a complementary manner.

  3. 10:47
    I must say that I think the cluing (26D: Barista's despenser) for URN is awful; indeed, an incorrect use the term barista. While I appreciate that the term has been bastardized to refer to anyone that might work at a coffee shop, thus drawing hot, weak American coffee out of an URN, a barista by tradition is a craftsman of espresso drinks who serves an experience as much as a drink, often creating designs in the milk froth. Horace, do you have an URN?

    I don't think there are any URNs at the annual US Barista Championship.

  4. 0:08:58

    I had the same reaction at first, Icarus, but really, you're right about the broadening of the term, and as such, it's now fair game for an URN clue, I guess.

    The photo isn't disgusting, certainly, but I'm still not a big fan of navel rings. That one, in particular, looks like it would be too much trouble.