Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015, Andrew Zhou


What, no axons or D-day today? I feel lost. Untethered. Adrift.

Actually, that's how I felt for much of the puzzle today. I couldn't figure out any of the themed answers, and needed the entire revealer answer less one letter before I could make heads or tails of it. But when I did... Color me impressed.

Things started smoothly enough in the NW, where I filled in the first three down and across answers without any issue. I got into trouble when I guessed TOPknot at 5D: Clip art? (TOPIARY). Things weren't much better in the middle N, when I guessed poet for 8D: One going on foot? (SHOE).

After that, I bounced around, getting very little traction in any area. I knew 27A was solar plexus, but couldn't figure out how to fit it in. Anyway, I got WHILEAWAY at 54A: Kill, as time (very nice!), and although the SW corner was confusing due to the nearly ungettable crossing at HOLI (never heard of it) and ILE (possibly because they're much better known as the Marquesas Islands, even though they're in French Polynesia, I worked my way across the bottom.

Finally, I had A_TOCOMPLETE. It wasn't until my mind made the leap to put in KATHIELEEGIF[FORD] that it all came together. Let me just say that SOLARP[LEXUS] and HELPMER[HONDA] are brilliant. STRINGT[RIO], BELON[GTO], and ANNODO[MINI] aren't at the same level, although the way the classic crosswordese GTO becomes part of something larger is good to see.

There's very little to dislike in this grid, IMHO. I'd never heard of 6A: Sigmatism (LISP), so that's a nice word to pick up. EELED is not great, and GIGLI is better forgotten than remembered, I imagine. Although I'm going entirely by reputation, never having seen it.

I think my favorite clue-answer pair is 18A: Cartoon character created by a marine biologist (SPONGEBOB). That's a great piece of trivia. 1A: Lead on (TEMPT) is pretty good too, and I'll give it a B+.

Thumbs up overall.

- Colum


  1. 16:34 (FWOE)(or maybe a DNF)

    I floundered for quite a while at the HOLI/ILE cross, never once thinking about islands until I got it. Sheesh! So probably a DNF, but the rest of it went so quickly that I can't bring myself to accept it. Well, ok, yes I can. There. That wasn't so hard.

    Another thing that I can't quite bring myself to accept is the fact that I totally missed the beauty of this theme. I thought, in my artless way, that maybe Mr. Zhou had tried entering these various things in to Google, and that's how far he had to go before the correct answer popped up. (Probably, though, it would happen much sooner in some cases.) Putting the "auto" into AUTOCOMPLETE is a stroke of genius. It's really quite lovely. And for that, I will accept the unHOLI cross, and the other not-so-lovely parts of this grid.

  2. 34:39
    Just nine seconds over doubling Colum's time. No errors, though. I figured out the theme with HELPMER[HONDA] and flew from there. I never heard of HOLI, but guessed early on at ILE. The NW gave me more trouble than it gave Colum, since I entered sate at 3D instead of the correct MEET. At 38A I originally put in berg instead of FLOE. WHILEAWAY was excellent, and I starred EELED as being particularly unacceptable. GIGLI was as terrible as they say (I saw it), though I think that Madonna's "Swept Away" may have been worse. I liked ENIAC, and ASSES is always nice in a grid. Good clue for BROS, IMHO, and it's an interesting bit of cluing having "Sigmatism" and "Sigs" in consecutive clues referring to different things. AMITY always reminds me of "Jaws" and of a nice Oregon Pinot Noir.