Sunday, April 30, 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017, Ed Sessa


Ha! and double ha! (also known as ha ha).

I was quite surprised by the twist of today's puzzle's theme. It's not what you expect on a Monday, so how nice to be thrown for a loop on the first puzzle of the month.

So, it's Colum back again for a month of reviews. I have quite the act(s) to follow from the last two months. I like it though. It's pushing us to reach higher and higher.

Our French themed puzzle today features the headless former queen, [M]ARIEANTOINETTE. I sussed the theme of the puzzle when I entered LETTHEMEATCAKE, and given the cross reference to 41A, I immediately dropped down to enter her name in, thinking smugly just how quickly this puzzle was going to go when two long answers were so quick to go in.

But it didn't fit.

So I loved the self-referential "revealer" at 47A: Something committed by 41-Across ... or by this puzzle's creator? (CAPITALOFFENSE). So funny! The initial capital of the beheaded monarch's name has been removed...

Anyway, there's a fair amount of French scattered in the grid, including LIS, ESPRIT, COUP, and of course, PEPE Le Pew, the famous French skunk. I thought for a while ISOLDE might be French as well (I've also seen her name as Iseult), but it turns out she's Irish.

There's not a lot of sparkle in the fill. I count 12 names of people (and animals), of which 8 are male, and 4 female. OHAIR wins for the most obscure. She lived from 1919 to 1995, and founded American Atheists, so my hat's off to her.

1A: Bouts, as of crying (JAGS): C-. Bit of a downer to start the puzzle.
Fave: 26D: Prefix relating to sleep (HYPNO) - I'm not usually a fan of prefix clues, but I love the terms hypnogogic (relating to the state immediately after falling asleep) and hypnopompic (relating to the state immediately prior to waking up).
Least fave: PETERI. Never a fan of these roman numerals extending a name to make it work in the puzzle. My guess is that Tsar Peter never used a roman numeral, not least because he was the first tsar of his name.

- Colum


  1. 5:32

    A fun surprise indeed on a Monday morning. Mention of the french queen always reminds me of our former governor Weld. In response to failing stocks of cod, haddock, and other fish favorites, he tried to boost the sale of traditionally unpopular fish by saying "Let them eat hake!" Good old Weld. If he hadn't teamed up with such a nincompoop, he might have done a little better in the recent presidential election. But the less said about that, the better.

  2. Oh, and I forgot to say - thanks for those two terms. I think I'll be using them a lot at work - mostly when describing my cognitive state during meetings.

  3. I agree completely with the comment about PETERI. In fact, I have always been disappointed that legendary constructor Manny Nosowsky stated that his record-breaking puzzle with only 19 black squares ( was primarily enabled by his discovery that he could use INNOCENTI for 30D (Sainted pope of A.D. 401-17), which allowed him to erase the 20th black square. For this Monday puzzle the stakes are a bit lower, so I'll let it go.

  4. 7:11
    Interesting trivia about the black square record. I agree that this is a nice start to the month, and will only add that the more CARL Sagan, the better.

  5. 12:18 (slow for a Monday)

    Toughest cross for me was BROMO/BRACERS. I did (mostly) know OHAIR (had to mess around with crosses to get the spelling.