Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015, Gary Cee


Okay, I loved this puzzle, for so many reasons. How rare is it to get such a high quality Tuesday? And with five theme answers, it's nicely dense as well.

So, that theme. You had me at HMSPINAFORE, of course. I had no clue what the theme was until I entered the revealer at 60A. The SPINCYCLE is extremely well hidden. It's a true progression from "pins" to "insp" to "nspi" to "spin". And, to make it even better, the four letters span every word in the phrases.

I never saw UPINSMOKE (in fact, I don't think I ever saw a true Cheech and Chong movie, since I'm pretty sure you can't count "Yellowbeard", that peculiar Monty Python/Peter Cook/Marty Feldman/Cheech & Chong bizarre mix. I loved it when I was 13, but upon seeing it again with my kids, I found it mostly unfunny). How amusing was it to have TOKE cross it, though? Right? Very nice to have to complete names with KEVINSPACEY and STEVENSPIELBERG.

The fill is actually pretty good, given the density of the theme material. A lot of proper names, such as POTOK, NEGEV, ATARI, ELI, RABAT, ALI, and ESTEE. I'm a huge fan of Tina FEY, so happy to see it clued the proper way here. I know some folks around here like NOAM Chomsky as well. Ooh! And Sparky LYLE! I liked that reference to my childhood, even if he was a Yankee.

Hey, is LASS a nod to G&S also? It's the subtitle of Pinafore: The Lass That Loved a Sailor. Bonus from me.

1A: ____ Games (PANAM) was one of the few clues I didn't get right off the bat. When I had the P, I thought of "party" games, first; only the "Games" is capitalized, and so that didn't work. Where did I go next? "Panem" Games. Referring, of course, to the fictional dystopian future world of the Mockingjay universe. Only, see, those are called the Hunger Games. So, no dice. Anyway, too much about one clue. I'll give it a C-.

My favorite clue-answer pair is 9D: Baritones, typically (MEN). Awesome! Yet another much better clue than that stupid annoyed feminist nonsense from some time ago. I love that the door is open for those really deep-voiced women out there.

- Colum


  1. 11:29 (FWTE)
    I don't know that there can really be a baritone female. Aren't they contraltos, like Ms. Anderson? I guess that some women can technically fall into a baritone category, but do they wish to be called that? I suppose that the "typically" is needed, technically. First, my errors: the crosses of POTOK/OLETA/MASHNOTE. I never heard of Ms. Adams (she's quite fetching!), or of Chaim POTOK. I guessed MuSHNOTE and PaTOK; the former made sense to me and the latter was just what I said: a guess. I starred HMSPINAFORE, of course, and ASSES, though the cluing could have been more risque. TOKE, and its placement, were great, and I loved seeing a favorite, FIONA Apple referenced. Horace and Frannie will probably bristle at ANNIE (66A Markswoman Oakley) for reasons only they could know.

  2. 5:28 (FWOE)

    Did not know POTOK or OLETA and guessed an A there. "Say, why is everything, always at sixes or at sevens?"

    I guess you swayed me a bit on this one, Colum. I was caught up in the mistake, and the weirdness of MASHNOTE (5D: Love letter). Is that a thing?

    I guess there is a lot of theme here, and it's not a terrible one, spinning "SPIN" around is kind of nice, really.