Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday, August 26, 2015, Ian Livengood


I liked the top of this puzzle, but when I got down to LOAMSOIL (49A: Planter's bagful), I cringed a little. And then I was stopped nearly dead in my tracks by HANSARP (51A: Sculptor who pioneered Dadaism). I know of Jean Arp, sure, but who's this Hans? Well, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I either never heard, or didn't remember, that it's the same person. He was German and French, and when he referred to himself in German, he used the name "Hans," and when in French, "Jean." That, in itself, just seems so, so, Dada, and I am quite happy to have learned it from this puzzle. Also on the bottom was the unfamiliar-to-me OSBORNE (58A: Playwright John who wrote "Look Back in Anger"), but you can't argue about stuff you don't know. Especially not authors of pretty famous books (See also: AMOSOZ), and internationally known artists. So that leaves me only LOAMSOIL, which, I argue, is either "loam" or "soil," not both. It's also probably more commonly delivered in trucks than bags. I've seen soil in bags referred to more often as "topsoil," and even though it's basically the same thing, it's a detail that seems significant.

But why am I grousing so much? The rest of this is pretty damn good. SOLARPANELS (12D: Modern energy sources), HOMECOMINGS (24D: When some kings and queens are crowned), YESWECAN (7D: Campaign line of 2008) (If Frank Sinatra says it's okay), and GAMESHOW (35D: Password" or "Pyramid") are all very good. I would have preferred a garlic clue for SCAPES (43D: Outdoor painting scenes), but BANKALARM (20D: Sound during a heist) brought a smile.

The HUMPDAY theme was an odd one, with four CAMELs strewn throughout the grid. They didn't seem to cause much straining in the fill. Maybe EBONS. And although BAHAI, OUSE, and OMAN are all legitimate, they are also a little crosswordese-y. And speaking of crosswordese, it's an interesting clue for OSLO (6D: World capital half of which consists of forest) today.

Overall, thumbs up. A good Wednesday.

- Horace


  1. 8:43
    An appropriate HUMPDAY puzzle to be sure, coming on a Wednesday, and being so odd as middle of the week puzzles are wont to be. The "camel"s are oddly place; I can see how you need the circles today, because otherwise how would you find them? I agree about HANSARP - I had no idea he was Jean Arp. I was thinking maybe a brother? It's also another puzzle where the longest answers are not thematic. SOLARPANELS is excellent. HOMECOMINGS took a while to figure out (especially because I had Jean instead of Hans). BANKALARM I will raise an eyebrow at. Isn't it just an alarm?

    I thought things would go swimmingly when the NW corner simply fell into place, although as it turns out, AMOSOZ was the last answer I filled in. I had a "kitwo" moment there too, as it took me a moment to parse that it was a first and last name. Overall I liked it, myself.

  2. What is it, Uncle Billy, Circle Week?? The camel humps--all FOUR of them--were, to me, underwhelming. I guess the Arp thing is kind of interesting. MInor artist, though. (Excuse my snobbery; I just saw a Van Gogh "Irises" up close and personal at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts) Agree with you, Horace on the cluing of OSLO. I love tidbits of information like that in a crossword! "Entirely" is the best cluing I've seen yet for the somewhat common ATOZ. I don't quite get IMPS for "Chronic pains." Pains in the ass, I assume; but that isn't how I usually think of imps. Am I missing something? As I filled in PLEA for "Cop a ___," I was wondering if Shortz would allow "Cop a FEEL." What do you think? My last gripe is WESTJET, another damned foreign airline. Marginal Wednesday.

  3. 13:14
    I wanted "feel" in there instead of PLEA, too, but POLPOT lead me to the correct answer. And I had ATO_ for quite a while for 27A before I parsed it correctly for the ATOZ which gave me AMOSOZ, the "Z" being my final letter. And Sue and I will be on a "damned foreign airline" relatively soon (Qatar Airways), so WESTJET didn't bother me as much as it did ET59. I enjoyed the cross of ZIPPO/ZIMA, the latter being a fad from decades ago, the popularity of which just seemed to fall off a cliff. I agree about LOAMSOIL: terrible; I was hoping that it was wrong, but alas. NEWMANAGEMENT was kind of a stretch, too. SOLARPANELS (of course) and HOMECOMINGS were my favorite long answers, and I quite liked SLOWBURN (19A Gradually increasing rage), which I've experienced on a few occasions. Finally, what about the ATON/ATOZ cross? And will no one mention TOM (30A Turkey hen's mate), or the awkward plural EBONS?