Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016, Tom McCoy


I like the title of this puzzle: it explains the trick of the theme succinctly. So, we take a standard phrase, and in one of the words, move an E so that a new word is made, and then clue the resulting phrase wackily. As always, my rules of whether a theme like this works stand. Is the original phrase immediately recognizable? Is the transformation unexpected? And is the clue sufficiently silly?

My favorite of the answers is GREATSALTLEAK. The original phrase, Great Salt Lake is strong, the switch is nice, and the clue, "Result of a Morton's factory explosion?" is just right. Nicely done. TRICKSOFTHETREAD comes in second.

Unfortunately, the others don't match up. I like MINUETHAND for the musical aspect, and ATEALOFTWOCITIES was definitely unexpected. Others are simply boring (MALESONWHEELS), really boring (BALANCEDEDIT), or not enough of a shift, as in MATEMARKET, where the original phrase refers to much the same thing.

Anyway, the fill is pretty good, starting with 1A: Full of sound and fury (ALLTALK), which is interesting, unusual, and well clued. I give it an A-. I also like ADROIT, INCODE (very unusual clue, which translates to "Like this clue" using a simple number substitution cipher). Also, KELVIN is a nice science reference - did you know that John Cage's 4' 33", a piece for solo piano in which the soloist plays nothing for that length of time, is a reference to absolute zero, which is 273 degrees celsius below zero, or zero K?

52D: Kind of challenge (ICEBUCKET) refers to ALS, so that's up my alley, to some degree. And I also liked the clue for 37D: You might wish upon it (SANTASLAP, which should not be parsed as "Santa slap", where you would not get your wish at all, at all).

As I recall, my first confident answer came at 8D: URL start (HTTP). I filled backwards from there. Anyway, I liked the puzzle a fair amount, just not so much because of the theme.

- Colum

1 comment:

  1. 37:58 (FWOE)
    My error came at the cross of CUESTA/ERIS, where I guessed a very reasonable "n." I agree with the A- for ALLTALK, and also with the analysis of the theme answers by Colum. I figured out the theme pretty quickly, as can be guessed, probably, from my time, which, for the third week in a row, is well below my 45 minute threshold for a satisfying Sunday solve. The fill wasn't particularly stand-out. The KRIS/SANTASLAP pairing and the GEHRIG/ICEBUCKET pairing are nice touches. My least favorite clue/answer is probably 59A Fall times: Abbr. (OCTS), where I guessed esTS, then edTS before getting the ICEBUCKET cross and realizing what belongs there.