Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016, Mark McClain


Practitioners of the DARKARTS get their own puzzle today. Because I had AETNA already in place when I came to 38D: What sorcerors practice ... or a hint to interpreting five clues in this puzzle, I confidently put ___mAgic in, even though it was clear that "black" would not fit in. I figured that something would turn up. I still somehow got the theme from this, which is odd.

In any case, the theme clues were an initial with four black boxes after in the iPad app, which made it clear that four common letters were represented. Five theme clues of the form "_arts", and the answers were placed without crossing each other, and with only six total answers crossing any two of them. This clever setup made the fill much better than it might have been with this much theme material.

Of the theme answers, I love PUBPASTIME: the two words and the fun juxtaposition of B and P make it more interesting than your standard answers. BLEMISHES (w-arts) is the oddball, in that the word doesn't rhyme with the others.

1A: Airway or pipe (DUCT) could have been clued in a more fun way. The actual clue is fairly dry, so I give it a C+. The first word I entered was 14A: Part of A.D. (ANNO), which I was glad for, because the rest of that NW corner was rough. I'm not sure why I couldn't recall DAVE from 2001: A Space Oddysey, but I think it was because "Hal" came to mind first and I couldn't shake it.

The best part of the puzzle is the middle section. TROMPE is a more enjoyable partial than most, and DOILIES is such a fun word. And who doesn't like a little American history with Benedict ARNOLD?

LICE is unpleasant, and IRES is just silly. Otherwise I have no real complaints.

- Colum


  1. 8:55

    I have got to find a way to work GLADRAGS into my speech more often. And I'm guessing there are those who pronounce W---- in the same way as T---- and M----, but neither am I one of them. I did, however, also mis-guess at the revealer, wanting blAcKARTS, but just putting in ----ARTS, which was enough to give me the theme. Heh.

  2. 14:14
    Yeah, GLADRAGS is good. I enjoyed the theme, and thought it well done. I thought MOVIEROLES a bit specific for P#### (that's how it showed up in Across Lite), but I agree with Colum that the oddball is W####. Nice mention of LEVAR Burton, and even I knew STAN Musial! Of course, EMIL Gilels is well known to me; I have an album of him performing a couple of Bach French Suites, most notably #5.

  3. The theme was a good one, in the sense that the theme answers were pretty much unclued until you figured out the theme, but not hard once you did.

    SEMIARID might win the prize for "not likely to get without some crosses", but I think my favorite might be SIKH. Just because it is a common(ish) word that makes perfect sense once you see the answer, buy where the clue hardly gives it away.