Today's review is brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department. Please be sure to take pen and paper and make a note of it by writing it down.
Thanks to today's puzzle theme, I looked up Redundancy (linguistics) in the Wikipedia. I knew a lot of what I found there, but I loved reading about all the levels of redundancy language has to offer, from phonology to rhetoric. I found the possibility that phonological redundancy might come in handy with first language acquisition to be interesting. If it starts that early, no wonder humans love it so much. :) I also learned that the habit, if you will, of saying ATM machine when machine was already accounted for in the acronym has a name: RAS syndrome, which is funny because it stands for Repeated Acronym Syndrome syndrome. Ha! Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.
Of the theme answers I probably wouldn't bat an eye at TWELVENOON or HEADHONCHO. Who here knew the word 'honcho' comes from Japanese? I might have learned that once long ago, but I forgot it again until today. Anywhoo, I can make a case for the repetition in both of those pairs as a means of emphasis. However, I find FIRSTBEGAN and REVERTBACK to be the most obvious transgressors and a little more difficult to justify.
Although there were seven three-letter answers, only one was a nondescript abbreviation, but the rest, I thought, were solid. Today's SOX were a different color. :)
I thought the 13D. answer/clue pair was an interesting match: Free (REIN) = (total control), which seems contradictory, but isn't. Or is it?
Also, thanks to the close proximity of STY and STYX I noticed that the two answers share three of the same letters. Is this another kind of redundancy?
I am giving today's 1A. Common lunchbox sandwich, for short (PBJ) a B+. It gets a demerit for being an acronym right out of the gate, but a big plus for being such a great favorite.
I just want to reiterate here, if it hasn't been stated already, say in the above well-written blog post, that I do enjoy a good redundancy theme, if that's not redundant, say, because of what was said above. In this blog post. That is well written.
Anyway, I had FIRSTBEGuN for a while. Which made REVERTBuCK peculiar. Figured it out before putting in the last letter, so no FWOE here. But what is the difference between "began" and "begun"? Well, I'm glad you (meaning me) asked. "Began" is simply the past tense, as in "I began to get nervous", while "begun" is the past participle, and should be used with auxiliary verbs, as in "I had begun to get nervous." Anybody nervous out there?
I liked the puzzle.
Funny, I've been working forward from the beginning of the Shortz Era, and I just did a puzzle with theme entries like SUMMERYSUMMARY ("Vacation slides?"), which is, in a way, kind of like today's theme. Except sillier. And it makes me look at this puzzle in a different way. Like, can we connect THENERVE and MINERVA? Or TASS and AAS? ... never mind. That's going nowhere.
RAH for the review! The puzzle was UTILE.
I'd have given a PBJ a score in the Cs somewhere, even though I quite enjoy the sandwich. Other than that, great review, and enjoyable puzzle. I'd have included "VIN number" somewhere in the puzzle, which is always irritating to hear because: 1) it's redundant; and 2) there are often letters involved (although I suppose they can be hexadecimal...I've never checked that possibility). Two place names adjacent to each other that are both four letters and both bookended with Os is excellent (OHIO and OSLO). SOAVE...fantastic, but more so for "Che soave zeffiretto" than for the wine, though I'd take either, or both, right now (or at any time come to think of it).