Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015, Jules P. Markey


Is it wrong of me to want a rebus every Thursday? Probably, but that's the way it is. And with that in mind, I am prepared to say that this is just what a Thursday puzzle ought to be.

I knew something was fishy almost immediately, as most solvers probably were, when I hit 4D: Wee 'uns in Scotland (B[AIR]NS). At first I tried "B[ai]rn," thinking both that maybe "bairn" could be used as a plural and that the theme might revolve around "artificial intelligence." When I got to PR[AIR]IEDOG (17A: Great Plains tunneler), I figured out that it must revolve around "air" instead, and that even if "bairn" were able to function as a plural, that it didn't need to here. Phew!

I like it that the revealer - COMPRESSED[AIR] - uses the rebus. Sometimes I've seen it where the revealer explains, but doesn't use. This does both, and I love it! CL[AIR]VOYANT (50A: Visionary) is lovely, AST[AIR]ES (73A: Sibling duo in "Lady, Be Good!," 1924) made me laugh because of Tuesday's puzzle/review, and P[AIR]OFSOCKS (27A: They rarely cover more than two feet in one day) was excellently clued. So thumbs way up on the theme.

But what about the fill? Well, let's look at the start - 1A: Bagatelle (BAUBLE) is strong, and 1D: I.Q. test pioneer (BINET) is tough, but the crosses were all fair. Two abbreviations on the rest of the top row are iffy, and UPHOLDER (14A: Sustainer) is just barely ok, but elsewhere things pick up again. TRUDGE (70A: Walk laboriously) is a good word, ENTRUSTS (69A: Charges, as with a responsibility) is solid, KNELT (30D: Prepared to engage?) made Frannie chortle, and I thought "60A: Bouquet" was a good clue for SCENT. Sure, we get the usual helping of ESO, EMTS, EDDA, and ORS, but the good far outweighs the bad here, in my opinion. Heck, I'm not even going to complain about EVENER.

Thumbs up!

- Horace


  1. I was thinking the same thing as I did this: exactly what you want in a Thursday. It's basic but exceptionally well done, especially, as you point out, in the revealer. My favorite theme answer--since I just recently left its SCENT--is SEAair. Loved the "Bagatelle"/BAUBLE start. I filled that in right away--what else could be an answer for that clue. I also loved the clue for OVINE--"Like the breeds Kerry Hill and English Leicester." Turns what could be viewed as a weak bit of fill into a star. Other nifty cluing includes "End of an era?" for ONEBC, "10 on a table" for NEON, and "Tune you're unlikely to dance to" for DIRGE. I suppose you were going to let Huygens mention this, but having "Roll in the hay?" start out BAL- has got to be about as risqué as the Times puzzle has ever gotten. Very high fun quotient with this one. There was some dreck, as you note, but many of the three-letter answers were at least partially redeemed by clues that provided a smile, something a bit different, or a tidbit of information (LEO, SIN, MEX, ETC, TOW, HOE, MOO, and especially DOA) Two thumbs up!

  2. One more thing--The NYTimes ink saver feature for when you print the puzzle is really cool.

  3. 16:18 (FWOE)
    I didn't know the BAUBLE/B[AIR]NS cross and guessed a "c" there. I loved IMP[AIR]ED (13A Intoxicated, say), SEXES (31D Classifies in one of two groups, in a way), although the clue could have been a bit more risque, and the aforementioned DIRGE. I thought that PETH[AIR] looks odd in the grid. I agree that all Thursdays should be rebus puzzles.