Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016, Yaakov Bendavid


I found this puzzle both delightful and a little too easy. But I don't mind that combination. First, make it entertaining. And the NYT Sunday puzzle isn't meant to be as much of a challenge as the Friday-Saturday pairing, so that's fine.

I was very impressed by the large amount of long non-thematic entries. Look at that middle diagonal going from NW to SE. It's all 6-, 7-, and 8-letter answers. I'm not sure I've ever come across ADAMANCY in any actual conversation, but I figured it out well enough. 58D: Nadir (LOWPOINT) is very nice.

The NE and SW corners have quite a set of combined down answers, all of which are very strong, with the possible exception of BANDOLERO, which I needed crosses to get, and the L (crossing STOL, which stands for "short takeoff and landing", never heard of it) was a guess for me, fortunately correct.

How about AENEAS and AESOP sharing a puzzle? That's a rarity. There's a pair of "squirrel away" clues, with CACHED and STOW. 91D: Unsmilingly (DEADPAN) is excellent, and probably my favorite clue-answer pair. There are some unfortunate entries, such as LEOVI, BSED, TTOP (as always), and my least favorite, 83A: Numerical prefix (OCTA). Never seen one of these prefix type answers end in A. I get it: "octagon" - no doubt it's an A at the end there. But not in crosswords. And RANGO slipped my mind, so I had an error there.

1A: Aspect (FACET) is perfectly serviceable. I give it a straight C. I was amused by 1D: Steak cut (FLANK). I tried "t-bone" and "filet" first.

Oh, wait! I haven't talked about the theme yet. I really enjoyed it. Each one is a phrase you might find on instructions or on the outside of a box (or in one case, in an advertisement?), and then reclued in a completely silly way. My favorite, by far was 113A: Desert supermarket? (STOREINADRYPLACE). Ha! That is hi-larious. I also liked CONTAINSSMALLPARTS and BATTERYNOTINCLUDED.

I'll give this puzzle a hearty thumbs up, and turn blogging duties over to Horace, who gets 29 days this year in February.

- Colum

1 comment:

  1. Well, and here I thought that this ran a tad hard for a Sunday, especially the middle sections. But I, too, enjoyed the theme and give the puzzle an overall thumbs up. 76D Target of a curfew, maybe (RIOTER) was unexpected. I had to guess on the SUBIC/BARRE cross, but it was correct. LEOVI is a bit random. Nice to see HERON make a comeback, and I liked BANDOLERO and ALLUDETO, as well as the Huygens fill, SMUT. Also, SPUTNIK was excellent, but required a few crosses for me.