Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017, Matthew Sewell and Jeff Chen


Well, I'm up, so I figured I'd get a headstart on February, it being such a long month and all. So many days! So many reviews! What's a blogger to do?

I guess, start by doing the crossword puzzle. Which remains one of the best stress relievers, even if just for a few minutes.

And this is an outstanding puzzle to start the month. It is entirely befitting the strange class of puzzles that fall on Wednesdays for the NYT. Just like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. Although, TBH, most boxes of chocolates tell you exactly what you're going to get.

The NW corner was not altogether promising, though. 1A: Exoskeleton, e.g. (ARMOR) gets a B- for the interest of the cluing. ROTH (my first confident answer) and SOAMI are less exciting. But then I hit RIPOSTE, and we were off like a well-timed zinger!

HAROLDANDKUMAR got me to thinking about diversity in the NYT xword. See, Harold is Asian (played by John Cho, later of Sulu fame) and Kumar is subcontinental Asian (played by Kal Penn). Was this puzzle meant to be a balm for fevered liberal minds? Let's see... LAMA, also Asian (one-L)... PAPA, blue-skinned... USNAVY, latino character from Lin-Manuel Miranda's first hit musical, In The Heights... Yes! Let's go with it!

But actually, what we're dealing with is the extremely clever interpretation of Mark Anthony's speech from Julius Caesar: "Friends, Romans, countrymen... LENDMEYOUREARS." See, each long answer is an example of those three groups. The Romans are represented by the PRAETORIANGUARD, while countrymen (at least for us US citizens) are represented by the FOUNDINGFATHERS.

And we still have room for WENTYARD and STPETER. I also enjoyed 28D: Page in a Hollywood film (ELLEN) for the hidden capital.

- Colum


  1. 7:28 (I do it without the hours in the comments, for some reason.)

    I gave an audible chuckle when I figured out this theme. HAH! There, I did it again.

    I actually started the NW with SOdoI, then ROTH, then I put in "fRame" instead of ARMOR, ... so that took a while to sort out. But yes, RIPOSTE was excellent. OPENBARS are always welcome. And OMELET reminds me of the hilarious musical "Something Rotten," that we just saw last weekend. A soothsayer, hired to foresee Shakespeare's greatest play, gets it slightly wrong. He goes on to say "I see... 'Danish,'... and something about 'Ham...". It's really quite funny.

  2. 16:34
    I was a little worried about WENTYARD, since I've never in my life heard of such a thing. I solved on paper, and that was my only questionable entry since Jacques TATI, who died, evidently, in 1982, is completely unknown to me. Since I solved on paper, I was able to star some things, such as RIPOSTE (mentioned by Colum) and OPENBARS (8D Places where spirits flow freely), with no question mark! SUNUP was also good, and the BIBLE/JOEL pairing was fine, too. Of course, 43D Mug shot subjects (FELONS) are only felons once they've been convicted; until then, they're just accused. FLUIDS is kind of gross.

    1. I guess WENTYARD could be put in the same basket with "Elite Eight," and Jacques TATI is a staple that you will now be happy to know as you continue to solve crosswords. He is in the same basket as ELIZA and ABE (Japanese P.M. Shinzo ____).

  3. Can't believe it took me so long to get STPETER - I was fixed on Charon and then well, I don't know, maybe a movie character? Turns out my first impulse was right, just from the wrong mythos.

    I hadn't heard of "go yard" either. I mean, it is in the baseball glossary I checked, so I suppose I'll grudgingly accept it (and in my book once you accept "go yard" you get to mangle it into all manner of ways which shows you my position on the whole forced plural thing). But I guess I can't get excited about the "rule" whereby baseball gets to be all over the crosswords but other sports are much rarer.

    Oh, and the theme. Cute, definitely cute. But I'm not sure I ever would have figured it out on my own. I was looking for wordplay based on the word "ears". A clue a bit more like "Shakespearean phrase following 19 across etc" might have made it easier. Too much easier? Or confusing in its own way? Dunno.