Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015, Paula Gamache


"Dead wood," "dead duck," "dead air," "dead body," "dead weight," "dead letter," "deadhead," "dead-eye," "dead ball," "Dead Sea," and "Deadhorse." That's a lot of death, even for a Wednesday morning. Solid DEADEND theme today. It's a common theme, but it's well done here. So full marks there, as they say.

Unfortunately, points will be deducted for 1A: Xbox alternative (WII). I'm pretty sick of that crosswordese, so 1A gets a D. 4A would too, if we scored every entry, but we don't. Thank goodness. But it is an indication of just what happens when the puzzle is almost all theme. LOTSA ENYA, ENTO, JDS, FFF, PXS, ANTHALKA, DOYA, and LEAS. NONONO! It's enough to make one CUSSAT the MIC.

There are some nice long downs: SAUTERNES (5D: Sweet white wine from Bordeaux), ONTHEMAKE (32D: Ambitious and unscrupulous), and even SHALLOT (10D: Food item often caramelized) (I like them roasted with a little balsamic vinegar) are welcome, but there's just a little too much that's either old (ENYA, EARTHA, LADE) or gluey (VOIT, LOEB, LLOSA). Even my favorite clue/answer - "8D: Let a hack do the driving" (CABIT) is kind of gluey... but as has been said before, bad fill can be saved by good clueing. Today, though, there just wasn't enough of that.

- Horace


  1. 15:22
    I enjoyed the theme today, and threw in SAUTERNES with no crosses (I was having a bit of trouble with the acrosses up there at first, and that helped a great deal). Lots of glue, though, as Horace mentions. BEAVER and TREE seem connected. I tried ONTHEtAKE at first, but couldn't think of anything to work with the across where MEET belongs. Other than that, not much in the way of trouble or WOW factor. I did like FFF for some reason, though those sections so-labeled generally don't please Sue on our Sunday evening soak. The SHALLOT answer brought back good memories of this past Saturday.

    1. 7:16
      I just don't love this kind of theme. It's great that you can come up with phrases made up of two common words, each of which can be paired in a separate phrase with another word. But as you say, it makes for a gluey puzzle that isn't much fun to solve. Look at the disaster that is the SE corner. EMS crossing PXS. Yuck.

      I too had ONTHEtAKE at first, and it was the recognition (for once!) that tEET wasn't going to work that made the M the final letter in the puzzle.