Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016, Ned White

3:46 (FWOE)

You'd think I'd know by now that it's ALEX Trebek, not ALEc or ALEk or something like that. And yet, I always trip up on his name. It must be the human need to rhyme. Steven Sondheim (favorite Broadway composer by far) writes about rhyming and how it makes it easier for the brain to grasp what's being said. So you see? It's only natural. I can't help it.

I feel like today's puzzle, a perfectly serviceable example of a Monday grid, is made by those two 11-letter down answers. PERIPHERALS is a neat term (and the plural is okay here in my book, because you never really talk about a singular computer peripheral). TORCHBEARER is also quite good, especially when referencing the late (and great) Muhammad Ali.

The theme is consistent: I don't know exactly how to describe it, but it involves a body part in each answer. I'm not convinced that NECKSNAPPER and CHESTBEATER are things that anyone really says in day-to-day conversation, but the other three are common parlance. It's fine, as my daughter would say. But one nice touch is that each body part is placed in the puzzle relative to its location on the body (hair at the top, ankle at the bottom).

The remainder of the FILL (we all like metafill, don't we?) has some less fortunate stuff in it. I don't really like PETERI (or any other name-number way of getting around a terminal -I, such as ACTIII from the other day), and UPTILTS feels ADHOC.  I was surprised to see a reference to a movie that has not yet opened, Miss SLOANE, but I've been bludgeoned with NPR style advertisements for it on my way to work, so it wasn't a tough answer for me.

1A: Sounds like a dog (BARKS) was my first confident answer, and gets a C-, really on the basis of the clue. Really? This is how you clue "barks"? Sounds like a dog? It just seems off.

- Colum


  1. 5:05 - Yeah, "Sounds like a dog" is not good. And NECKSNAPPER is nothing I've ever heard or want to hear. The spacing, though, is a good touch. Maybe it would help you with ALEX if you think of his last name as Trebex. Or would that just confuse you further? Alec Trebex? Alexi Tribeca? Alessio Tabasco? Is this helping?

    I don't know, I didn't love it. Speaking of bad clues, how about "Suffix with narc-" (OTIC)? Weak. But yes, we do like metaFILL.

    1. In some alternate universe, Jeopardy is hosted by the Italian model Alessia Tabasco.

  2. 6:55
    After a busy weekend, I'm finally back on track. I'll throw my vote in there against NECKSNAPPER and OTIC. I love ANKLEBITER (although I seem to remember Douglas Adams using "kneebiter," perhaps in "So Long And Thanks For All The Fish," although I'm not sure about that. I never heard of DANGELO and needed all of the crosses for both STENS (37A 1940s British guns) and SABRAS (47A Native Israelis). The rest, as Colum's daughter says, is fine.

    1. I'm stunned that you have not run into STENS (or its singular) multiple times by now. If not in the NYTX, then surely in the lesser crosswords? Well, in any case, now you have, and it won't be the last time, I guarantee it.