Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016, David J. Kahn


I figured out the rebus portion of the puzzle pretty quickly today. I had 1A: Wise ones (SAGES) (gets a C+) and SASHA immediately, and then ATRIA. I looked at 3D: Somatotropin, e.g., knowing that was a GROWT[HHO]RMONE, but thinking: That doesn't fit. So I put in GROWTH____ and waited. Once I had KARATE in place, and ORONO / MAINE, I incorrectly put in GROWT[ho]RMONE and didn't notice the problem until later.

It was when I filled in the NE section and got CHANGEYOUR[H2O]WAYS (see what I did there?) that I went back and fixed my earlier mistake. The theme is clever, definitely. I like it a lot. The down answers read as a rebus for [HHO], while the across answers read that same rebus as [H20]. In addition, the across answers are common phrases with "water" added, and then clued wackily.

Some of these answers work much, much better than others. My favorite is definitely 95A: Conservative's opinion of the Republican presidential candidates? (GOODASGOLD[H2O]). Solid initial phrase, great twist when you add "water". Although from the recent news, I'd hazard to guess that a number of conservatives would disagree with this assessment of Donald Drumpf.

None of the other theme answers have the same Aha cleverness to them. SALT[H2O]OFTHEEARTH is pretty good, as is HOT[H2O]WIRES. On the other hand, DOGGY[H2O]BAG just has me quizzical. How is that a "Container to keep a canine cool?" Is the dog inside the bag? Is the dog drinking from the bag? A "water bag" is not something I'm familiar with.

I should also mention that the down rebuses are all strong examples of phrases with [HHO] in them, although the plural RUS[HHO]URS is less esthetically pleasing. JEWIS[HHO]LIDAY was the least expected.

There are a number of very nice long answers in the fill. THEHUSTLER is a great movie, especially considering Jackie Gleason's non-comic portrayal of Minnesota Fats. And Paul Newman, of course. HIGHOCTANE was not what I was expecting, and TRANSITION is topical nowadays.

I always love BACON. Just made a fine breakfast sandwich for my wife for Mother's day that contained lovely bacon. I use Coleman's, because the flavor is so fine. I also enjoyed 55A: How many a medical problem ends? (ITIS), but I imagine that your mileage may vary on this one.

On the downside, there were whole sections of fill I actively disliked. The SE corner, for example: plural NEALS, plural archaicism NAES, and never used plural ASYLA. Oof. Just above that: abbreviation of first name JAS, strangely plural STETS, never used exclamation YOWIE. Hmm.

I almost had an error: the last square I filled in was the cross of KROFT and REMI. I couldn't see the latter, thinking of hEMI, dEMI, or sEMI as references to a musical scale (not quite right, obviously). But I figured it out just in time.

- Colum


  1. For crosswordese, I count the following:
    AJAR, ATRIA, INTER, AGRA, ORONO (although, adding MAINE is nice), ANA, NSEC, TEE, INC, JAS, SOSO, IRR, ABET, AINT, EEN, SEAS (with an "S"), EERO, NEALS (yes, the "S" makes it all the worse), OSOS (with an "S"), ROAN, SEN, EIRE, ATRA, ASSETS (with an "S"), ANEW, HIED, GARS (with an "S"!!), OLIO, AERIE, OONA, ESC, INTRO, ALINE, STETS (with an "S" for cryin' out loud), OBI, REOS (with another "S") YAHOO, THEO (does the cluing save this? OK, THEO Epstein gets an eternal pass), HERA, RARE, NAES (the "S" is great, not!), and that's still giving a pass to CHOO, WOW, IERE, TROY, and ANITA because it adds ODAY. And, yes, DOGGY water BAG is too much a stretch, in my opinion.

  2. 75:32
    This took a little longer than I like, but it was fun for the most part, so it's OK. I, too, figured out the rebus early on so it was just a matter of determining where they went in the phrases. Maybe a water bag is that thing that people put on their heads when they're hung over or feverish in old movies. I realize I could Google it, but won't. Not much to add. Certainly there's a lot of junk in here (glue) but that's to be expected on a Sunday. I didn't mind ASYLA too much, but it was a long time coming, even though I had __YLA early on. And I recently watched "The Hustler," which is fantastic.