Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016, David Phillips


So. SIDE / BARS. Do people use this term in life outside of, say, apparently in a court of law, where a conversation between judge and lawyers that the jury does not get to hear, is in fact, a sidebar? I definitely see its use in magazines (say ESPN, the magazine) where extraneous related material is placed in a separate section to the side. But I've never thought of using it in the sense of an "off-the-record discussion".

On the other hand, it could have been clued thusly: "Cocktail made up of vodka, triple sec, and chambord ... or 12 answers in this puzzle?" That I would have been more appreciative of, and it would have followed nicely from yesterday's theme. In fact, why aren't all the themes about cocktails? We had a very nice Manhattan the other day, with maraschino cherries and all. Teetotallers excluded, would anybody complain?

That little issue aside, I really like the double columns of answers that end in "bar" to complete them. I did not cotton to the theme ahead of the revealer, despite already having 1D: Concession stand (SNACK[BAR]) and 2D: High-carb bite (POWER[BAR]) in place. We've seen themes where the outside edges are all the theme answers, but the doubling up adds to the difficulty here without taking from the general goodness of the fill.

Because of having twelve theme answers of four to five letters each, there's a paucity of lengthy answers in the grid as a whole. We just saw AAARATED not that long ago - no, strike that: it was AAABONDS in Sunday's puzzle. FIREOPALS is fine. I've never heard of a TRIMOTOR before. Here is one for future reference:
Perhaps not surprisingly, it has three motors.

I had a strange moment when I saw DIETER crossing ENGEL, thinking of Mike Myers as the German talk show host of Sprockets meeting up with Karl Marx's collaborator, Friedrich Engels. Neither of these things is correct. On the other, hand, 49D: Weather phenomenon named for baby Jesus (ELNINO) reminded me of this:
Yeah. Anyway, 1A: Edit, as tape (SPLICE) is such a fun word, and so completely out of use, that I give it a B+. The more I look through the grid, the less I see to really love. IGUESS my favorite will have to be 13A: 3 Musketeers filling (NOUGAT), because... well, let's just say that my oldest brother liked Snickers the best, and my middle brother liked Milky Ways the best, and that left 3 Musketeers for me.

- Colum


  1. 9:37

    Hilarious review today. I actually watched the entirety of that clip, which is rare for me no matter what the clip, never mind a 3+minute clip!

    Let's see, SPHERE is nice, and TATER Tots are awesome, and VENIAL is a word that is surprisingly less bad than it sounds, isn't it? Sooo....

    Lastly, I checked your math on "side bar," because I had never heard of it. Sure, I've heard of a "Sidecar" (Auntie Mame Alert!), and that sounds really good, actually. I already owe you a Manhattan, and now maybe we'll have to make sidecars, too. - or maybe that will be many hours later, when the blinding "moon" shines through the windows making it difficult to read.

    1. Do you know, I was thinking of a sidecar as I wrote the blog, but looked up sidebar cocktail, and found the recipe. Huh.

      And, yeah. Auntie Mame. Likely to be watched this weekend, maybe even while I watch the Patriots.

  2. 23:39 (FWTE)
    Two errors again. I guessed an "o" at the NEILL/SIDE cross and a "t" at the SIDE/FALDO cross, as I'd never heard of SIDE/BARS used in that sense, NEILL or FALDO, and I figured "soft" BARS would be fine, somehow, not being proficient in Italian and not realizing quickly enough (or at all) that it's "Sotto!", not "sote." Ah, well. I should learn another language, but Italian is third on my list, behind Hawaiian and Klingon. Anyway, this was a fine Thursday, but I prefer more of a rebus-type puzzle for Thursdays, as has been mentioned on this blog by others. DOH clued without a "Simpsons" reference is odd. And just once, I'd like to see Alban BERG referenced instead of the ice kind in a puzzle.

  3. 11:06
    Having spent a decade and a half in journalism, I am well-acquainted with the term "sidebar" and have used in often. Mostly that's been in that second context to which Colum alludes when creating something of a written aside for a larger magazine article, but I do believe I've used it exactly in the context of the clue, stepping away from a group of people - say, at a tradeshow - to have a private, off-the-record conversation. However, I think the clue most directly refers to that legal sidebar, to which Colum primarily alludes. Yet more apropos to the clue than a conversation between judge and lawyers that the jury doesn't get to hear, I believe a courtroom sidebar is not heard by the court recorder or erstwhile stenographer and thus kept out of the official record of the trial.