Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016, Morton J. Mendelson


A rare Wednesday gimmick puzzle. Every time the same number is used for an Across and a Down clue, the clue is the same for both. With that kind of a theme, even though there are many theme answers, the result is that the puzzle has kind of a themeless feel, if you see what I mean. Anyway, I like it. The single clues need to be interpreted in two different ways each time, which is a nice touch. It's a little funny that clue 1. Zip and its answers all start with Z, but only, I think, because Z is so uncommon. I didn't think twice about "10. Bill" being answered with BEAK and BANKNOTE. So thumbs up on the theme.
Interesting trivia in 20. Mozart was the first major composer to write specifically for it (CLARINET), 3. Instrument with 18+ strings (SITAR), and 51. One of the six official languages of the United Nations (ARABIC). The five original languages are Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Arabic was added later, by popular demand.

For glue today, we have a lot of four-letter names - LOTT, KETT, KOOP, IRMA, and RHYS, running the gamut from "becoming obscure" to "very obscure." I'll give ROMO a pass (heh) since he's still on an active roster. As usual, we GRIN and bear it, and the crosses were all fair.

Overall, I enjoyed it. Wednesday has been called the red-headed stepchild of the crossword week, but today's puzzle feels fresh.

- Horace


  1. 9:32
    I wish the NYT crossword app could have put the clues in the way they were meant to, in a single list, no across or down noted. That would have been more interesting. As it is, I think 9 pairs of answers is darned impressive, and I liked the challenge. My first confident answer was CLARINET! I struggled a bit to find my footing at the beginning, but that clue really helped out. In fact, when I'm listening to an unknown piece of music and am trying to guess at the composer, the two things I pay most attention to are whether there is a harpsichord or a clarinet playing. The former dates the piece to before 1770 or so, and the latter after 1780 or so.

    1. Ha! I wondered if you would know that one without crosses. Impressive. And I totally forgot about my first answer and the rating. I guess the first one that I was absolutely sure of was, sadly, LOTT. And 1 is part of the theme, but I'm still giving it an A-.

      And yeah, the app didn't work with the clues, but I'm not sure it would have made much difference, because of the way you can just tap on a space and the highlighting shows you whether it's Across or Down, and the clue is highlighted too. On the web version it was just one big list, but this is one day that solving on paper definitely would have given this theme the most impact.

    2. p.s. I was pretty sure about IBIS and APSE though.

  2. 13:45
    I, too, knew CLARINET off of the clue with ZILCH crosses (that doesn't quite work, does it?). Excellent theme and execution. SITAR went in confidently, too, as did LOTT. I liked the clue for STERN only because it is nautical (and a theme clue). I also loved the literal 52D What to expect when you're expecting (BIRTH). Good Wednesday.