Thursday, May 19, 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016, Morton J. Mendelson


This week has definitely skewed harder than average! I've been above my typical time on each day. It's not much of a surprise for a quotation theme though. Essentially, you need a ton of crosses in order to get a foothold. Once one part goes, the rest tends to follow suit. I don't love these kinds of themes, but today's was super dense, with four 15-letter chunks and one 7-letter answer. That is a ton of theme, and all four corners have three 7-letter down answers in a stack.

The quip is... well, cute. THEPRIMESUSPECT / KNEWHEWASCOOKED / AFTERHE / WASGRILLEDBYTHE / POLICEDETECTIVE. Yeah... puns. I'm a big fan, in general. We had puns yesterday as well. This is passable.

I like a number of the down answers. Of course, Sweeney Todd being my favorite Broadway musical, JOHANNA was a gimme. I think 3D: Count of Monte Cristo, e.g. (AVENGER) is not so great. That ending with -er is awkward. And after all, you could clue it so easily nowadays, perhaps too easily. Or not? 3D: Vision, e.g. would be pretty tough.

11D: Some sneakers (REEBOKS) is fine, while 12D: They can be gross (INCOMES) is saved by the clue. Otherwise that plural is actually gross. 13D: Two-part letter (DOTTEDI) was my final fill. And it took forever to see it. It didn't help that I had BOy at 22A: Turing test participant (BOT). In my defense, one version of the Turing test, as proposed by Douglas R. Hofstadter, is to have one person try to guess the gender of a hidden participant through a conversation over a computer. And also, BOT is annoying. It really should be an A.I.

I like SWAPPED and LANEONE. My favorite down answer is 36D: Was unhappy (with) (HADABEEF). That's fun. BYITSELF was also a surprise, as I wanted it to end with -ly.

How about 18D: Pity (RUTH)? How many people got that one without all the crosses? It's the source of the term ruthless. I questioned that one all the way to the end of the puzzle.

1A: Unlatched, say (AJAR). I'll give it a C+.

- Colum


  1. P.S. Turns out this is a debut puzzle, so congratulations to Mr. Mendelson!

  2. OMFG You and your 16:43! Last night I looked at this just before falling asleep and got almost nothing. Then this morning I tried again and got a few things, but not much. Then tonight after dinner, as Frannie and I took turns with it, I said, "Colum will know this Sweeney Todd one," and "Colum will just know this Handel opera one," and, in a different vein, "I wish I knew the capital of Togo!"

    This took us 50 minutes exactly, and we were working together! Granted, we were also chatting a bit and passing it back and forth, but still!

    When I figured out HADABEEF I let out an audible groan. It's great, but it fooled me so long! I loved UTILITY (One of a pair of Monopoly properties), but I also wish I had gotten that one more quickly. (Notice a trend?) I wanted AJAR (Unlatched, say) from the beginning, but we went through "imitate" and "copycat" for "Ape" before Frannie found ACTLIKE.

    This was like a solve from three years ago for us. Took a long time, but was a lot of fun. I second the congrats on the debut!

    1. I'm just glad to know that everybody's having a harder time this week!

  3. p.s. I wanted RUTH, but only after a couple crosses. I didn't know it for sure, but it felt right. It's interesting that it comes from (probably) Old Norse"hrygg∂," because I've just started learning Norwegian with Duolingo in preparation for a trip to Norway in 2018. It's a very strange language. The definite article is a suffix!

  4. 25:04
    Why not the homeland? Why Norway? At least you're circling out a bit farther from the comfort zone. Anyway, this ran a bit long for a Thursday, mostly trying to figure out the quip. LIV: nice, and HEAVETO is a great bit of boating lingo (I don't have my own in the water as yet; maybe this weekend). UTERUS: gross, and PEE: 'nuff said. But the puzzle itself was, indeed a fun solve, so I third the debut congratulations.

    1. Duo doesn't have Finnish yet. I think they're working on it, though, and if they get it up and running soon, we might alter our plans.

    2. Of course, I could try to learn the language using some other method, I suppose...