Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2015, Sam Ezersky


I'll always welcome a tribute to DAVID / BOWIE. This is actually pretty darn impressive. There are five theme answers, four of them stacked in pairs, and the first word of each spells out the first line of Space Oddity ("Ground control to Major Tom..."). In addition, we get the Thin White Duke's full name (although not his given birth name, which was David Jones), AND the key of the song, BFLAT. That's a ton of theme material.

All of the theme entries are solid. I'm partial to TOMFOOLERY, as it is the title of the musical revue of Tom Lehrer's music. I had a friend when I was a kid, Sam Linsky, who knew Lehrer's music as well as I did. We sang all the songs in the back of his mother's car. I don't know how she put up with us.

With so much theme material, there is, as you can imagine, a fair amount of compromise in the fill. It's astonishing that the two long down answers that cross three theme entries are so good: IPODNANO and TABLOIDS. IMODIUM not so much, because it's both a brand name and it treats grossitude.

IHEARYA is great. NUMLOCK I didn't love. Crosswordese includes EBAN, OMAHA, IDED, ILIA.

1A: Hearty har-hars (YUKS) - hmm. I like the clue, and the answer is unusual. I'll give it a B.

Favorite clue-answer pair is 51D: They may be blown by a magician (MINDS). Had all kinds of thoughts running through my own mind with that clue. Second favorite clue is 65A: The duck in "Peter and the Wolf" (OBOE). Great music.

I forgive any issues with the fill for Mr. Bowie's sake.

- Colum


  1. 9:40
    Great grid, and timely. (Does the NYT have these standing by for others, too? Will we see an Abe Vigoda one now? Well, maybe he wasn't as influential as Bowie when it comes down to it.) Isn't ACDC and ANKA some crosswordese, too? I didn't like IMODIUM either, for the same reason as Colum. My least favorite theme answer was MAJORPROBLEM; it seemed a bit of a stretch since "snafu" usually indicates a more minor thing, no?

  2. "There a Starman waiting in the sky. He'd like to come and meet us, but he thinks he'd blow our MINDS." I'll count that as theme material, too, particularly with the same tune referenced in parallel formation there in the grid, and boast that, given the theme, I wasn't fooled by it a bit. Actually, this is one of those puzzles where the theme gave away a lot. I started in the NW and had GROUNDOUTS, CON, and BOW__ when I looked over at the clue for 35A and was able to immediately fill in GROUND, CONTROL, TO, MAJOR, TOM, and DAVID. Sometimes that's a letdown in a puzzle, but not here for me. I used to play STARMAN, among others, pretty loudly in my college dorm and sing pretty loudly to it with a guy down the hall... Like Colum, I forgive any issues given the nod to Mr. BOWIE.

  3. 7:26
    Yes, a very nice tribute puzzle today. I wonder if this puzzle really was "standing by," or if Mr. Ezersky whipped this out in very short order. Perhaps I'll get to ask him myself at the ACPT in April. He was there last year.

    Loved "Colgate, but not Crest: Abbr" for SCH. And can we also count ACDC as theme material, given Bowie's sexual tendencies in the '70s?