Monday, August 3, 2015

Monday, August 3, 2015, David Steinberg

0:05:50 (F.W.M.E.)

Well, I got the theme with HERCULEPOIROT (23A: Fictional character who "died" in 1975), not because I knew when he died, but because I had a few crosses and I saw that the name fit. I put in LITTLEGRaYCELLS (39A: What 23-Across thinks with (as illustrated in this grid)) without any crosses, but, as you see, I had it spelled wrong. I also guessed "AdAms" where OBAMA (28A: President born Aug. 4, 1961) belonged, because I was going much too fast, saw the "4" in the date and assumed that it was asking about presidents who died on the fourth of July. Oh well. Incidentally, Calvin Coolidge was the only president to be born on July 4. You can thank me for that little tidbit later.

I'm not sure I love EGGSHAPEDHEAD (50A: Notable 23-Across feature), but maybe I'd like it more had I actually read the books, instead of just watched the PBS Mystery versions. Does she mention that characteristic? Probably. And looking at the photo, he does kind of have an egg-shaped head... but don't we all?

AGAPE crossing AGAZE right up in the NW is a little troubling (can we make it a trifecta with ALOOP?), and the NE is not much better with MACAW over ENOCH. Really, aside from the dense theme and the two longish downs COCKTAILS (11D: Drinks before dinner, maybe) and STILETTOS (33D: Pointy heels), there's not a whole lot going on here. And although I love the word APERCU (4D: Cursory glance), I really dislike the clue. It's not just a cursory glance, it's something perceived in that first look. It's an insight drawn, not the action of looking. Isn't it? Finally, THRACE (49D: Ancient land on the Aegean) is fun. Overall, though, meh.

- Horace


  1. I wasn't crazy about this one either. Seems odd that Steinberg would do a Poirot puzzle. But who knows, maybe he's a big fan. Even though I haven't read any Poirot stories, this was very easy. Horace, I agree with you on the EGGSHAPEDHEAD thing. We all certainly do have them. It must come up in the stories, though, as you suggest. This is another one that trends mostly old: the whole theme, CZARS, ENOCH, MOTO, SPIRO, THRACE. Even an old planet! Actually, that was one thing I kind of liked, seeing the clue "Former planet." I also liked the digs at Trump and Kanye, two supreme idiots who probably think they are quite smart. Don't really know about APERCU. I can't recall that I've seen it in print or heard it used in conversation, so I don't have a good sense of its nuances. French is your department, isn't it? I'll take your word as to the usage (which from my experience is minimal). What else . . . The clue for DRAMA is cute; I like the juxtaposition of the somewhat formal "Err" with the colloquial MESSUP. No big issues with the 3's; ENS, DIR, SGT, and SOI are not great, but most of the others are fine. Young David produced one of my favorite puzzles of the year--the March 28 Saturday--but this, like yesterday's, left me pretty flat. Mondays should strive for more humor, I think.

  2. 3:38
    Whatever, it was a fine Monday. Got an average time for me, of course.

  3. Unknown time (the timer said 4:58, but I neglected to restart it when I returned to my computer)
    I watched a few episodes of that HERCULEPOIROT series, so this was pretty easy. OBAMA went right in since he's the first president younger than my older brother, who was born on May 3, 1961. STILETTOS could have used a more suggestive clue, as could have MADAM.