Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thursday, February 2, 2017, Alex Eaton-Salners


It's Groundhog Day, and Punxsawtwney Phil saw his shadow today, so enjoy more winter, everybody.

To celebrate, let's recognize Mr. Eaton-Salners who today publishes his debut puzzle in the NYT. And it's a doozy! The theme answers give directions to start answering subsequent across answers either INREVERSE or the more standard LEFTTORIGHT. A total of 12 of the across answers are to be entered backwards, or about a third overall.

I entered the puzzle confidently with PINKEYE (although I had to take it out later on until I was actually convinced I'd been right in the first place). I saw the clue for 20A: How a book in Hebrew is read [watch out now!] (BACKTOFRONT), so I had an idea something was going to be up, and when I entered "rEnEe" at 32A: Zellweger of "Chicago" (EENER) and then saw TSAR, I figured out that answers would be backwards.

I love how some of these answers look in the grid: DEOMED, ERITNE, MEDNAT.


It's a great theme, tightly done, and I enjoyed figuring it out. The fill is reasonable. 1A: Echoing sound in a hallway, maybe (STEP) gets a B for the clue's interest. Nobody wants to see MUCOUS (ick!), but I liked RECORDDEAL and the oddly singular INGREDIENT.

Of course I'm very fond of 45D: James Parkinson or Alois Alzheimer (EPONYM) as representatives of individuals who give their names to illnesses. Who doesn't thrill to Osgood-Schlatter disease, or Osler-Weber-Rendu? We had to give up Hallervorden-Spatz disease seeing as how these doctors experimented on Jewish prisoners during the Holocaust.

But nobody wants to end on a note like that. So let's watch some SDAOT hopping.

- Colum


  1. 13:44

    Loved it. As I review it now, it's almost difficult to look at, what with all the GNIYAS, MEDNAT, and ETALFO... but somehow it all makes sense! It's just what a Thursday should be. Excellent debut.

  2. 15:09
    I, too, enjoyed this one greatly, and I really thought I crushed it, having figured out the theme (pretty much) with the BACKTOFRONT followed by OOL (since CAULK had to be 12D). Well, I guess it could have been putty or something, but it had to have either an "o" or an "l" in the fourth spot, so.... I also loved the way that the directions kept reversing themselves throughout the puzzle. It was very well done, and, although not a classic rebus, a great Thursday trick. I starred 9A Idle laughter source? (ERIC) - awesome, and its pairing 34D Its sound in old westerns was often simulated by a coconut (HOOF), although to be a "true" pairing, "The Holy Grail" should have been the reference, but I'll take it. Oddest look: NAEROK; almost a "Star Trek" language.