Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016, Bruce Haight


Wow! Correct me if I'm wrong, but I count 100 squares of theme material in this puzzle. When you get to 68-Across in the online version, the whole grid turns yellow! Amazing. (Mr. Haight himself calls it "111 letters of interlocking theme material" in his hilarious commentary over on xwordinfo, but I only get to 100.) And I suppose maybe the Americanized version of ESTEE is "ess-tee," (instead of the French "ess-tay) so I'll not complain about that too loudly.

Instead, let's look at all that theme! SITTIGHT (*"Don't go anywhere!"), SORE THUMBS (34A: *Things that stick out conspicuously), SWEETTOOTH (44A: *Craving for desserts), and STARTREK (41D: *Film words before "Nemesis" "Into Darkness" and "Beyond") are my favorites. SNEAKTHIEF (4D: *Shoplifter, e.g.) and SEATRIP (27A: *Carnival cruise, e.g.) sound a little arbitrary, but hey, throw those out and you still have ten theme answers!

With all that, there's barely room for anything else, but he still manages to get in a few good non-theme entries. GUSTO (53D: Zeal) and VIXEN (61A: Prancer's partner on Santa's team) are snazzy, and I enjoy the oddness of OHHI (10D: "Fancy meeting you here!"). Sure, there's a bit of MEH fill like AGS (31A: Dept. of Justice heads), REWED (13D: Take some new vows), ADA, and EXTS (36D: Tel. no. add-ons), but it's not an XTRA amount. 1A: Ones whose business is picking up? (CABS) gets a B+ from me.

Overall, a fun Tuesday.

- Horace

p.s. Hi Bruce!


  1. 4:28
    Well, I'll say MEH. I don't buy that ESTEE is pronounced the same as S-T. Most people know the name from Estee Lauder, and it's definitely S-TAY there. And SNEAKTHIEF is simply not a thing. Otherwise I guess they're reasonable theme entries, but the theme is mostly just seeing how many of these phrases you can cram in. I'd rather have high quality theme answers.

  2. This is what happens when you crank up the theme density without cranking up theme cleverness or much of anything else. The theme answers are lackluster. The revealer doesn't work very well for me because I wouldn't pronounce ESTEE as S-T. The fill needs things like AGS, ENOW (although this fill isn't quite as bad as many theme dense puzzles, as it is more dull than desperate). SNEAKTHIEF? Do those words even fit together in that order? Much less display wit or surprise. On the plus side? Well, I liked the misdirect on 29D (kept thinking of movie plots). And I liked SEATRIP (although I suppose some will react the way I did to SNEAKTHIEF). But on the whole? MEH at best.

  3. Hi guys, yours was the only review site that had anything nice to say about this puzzle so I think you were bending over backwards to be kind. Thanks for that! My stunt puzzles have generally been poorly received, but Will seems to like them. Nice meeting you at the ACPT! Bruce Haight