Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sunday, May 7, 2017, Natan Last, Finn Vigeland, and the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class


What do you call words that look like they should rhyme, but don't? An eye rhyme. "The tough coughs as he ploughs the dough," as Dr. Seuss said. And this puzzle is replete with examples, from the title, to the theme answers' clues, to the theme answers themselves. I love the execution here. That's 19 total eye rhymes used, but better, 9 of them are used to clue another 9, and that's quite clever.

Unfortunately, while the clues are fun in their couplet form, the actual answers fall kind of flat in my opinion. The only one that made me chuckle at all (and it was a fairly weak sort of chuckle) was BASELINEVASELINE. That's an amusing image. Otherwise they were fairly mundane.

But that's okay. I enjoyed the process of coming across each new one. Once I'd figured out the pattern, it made filling in the puzzle much easier: with a few crosses, I had more than half the theme answer filled because of the eye rhyme.

Given the density of theme material, there is a ton of interesting long fill. 16D: One working on the board? (PROSURFER) is cute. I also liked ACTUALSIZE. 40D: [!!!] (IMSHOCKED) is nicely done.

I was mildly confused by the cross reference between GUACAMOLE and TACOS, reading the clue for the latter as being what you'd serve to go with the "Party bowlful" of 76D, instead of just stuff that is often served with the dip. I was all ready to get up in arms about it, but talked myself off of the ledge. Whew!

I love the symmetric pairing of 45A: Cry to a cop (ARRESTHIM) and 88A: "Just be cool" (ACTCASUAL). Seems like the setup for a movie scene.

78D: "://" preceder (HTTP). I really really wanted this to be an emoticon. I had to get several crosses to convince me otherwise.

1A: Like the 30 Rock building (DECO) - C-. It's Art Deco.
Fave: SCHNOZ (90A: Hooter or honker). Great answer, great clue.
Least fave: MOOC (Acronym for a class taught over the internet). Stands for "massively open online course".

- Colum


  1. 25:01

    Fortunately, I have taken a few MOOCs, so did not get stuck on that one.

    My favorite was SWOLE. Heard this word a few weeks ago when going through the lyrics of "God" by Kendrick Lamar. Never though in a million years that I'd see this in a crossword. And yet here we are.

    I got stuck by POEHLER (44D: Funny Amy) as I had SCHUMER filled in. I also got stuck by filling in Amherst for Emerson. On this latter note, I am quite accustomed to getting stiffed by New England / New York clues in this daily puzzle, which probably costs me 20 seconds a pop against the field that has this safely in their wheelhouse. In retrospect, I should have known Funny Amy was not Schumer, as that would more likely be clued as "Our favorite local Senator Chuck".

    I have enjoyed Natan Last ever since my son bought one of his kid-themed crossword books ("Word: 144 Crossword Puzzles That Prove It's Hip to be Square"). Nice to see him in the times once again.

  2. 24:13 (FWOE)
    Hmmm, I'd never heard of SWOLE, and it was the source of my error as I picked an "a" as a guess for the across (OTRO), another unknown. I enjoyed the theme, but this puzzle was too easy for a Sunday. Even the ACLS didn't slow me down. I guess the one place that I had to rework was the Uncle Sam clue, where beardED also fit in the allotted space (GOATEED).

  3. I've always called them "sight rhymes," but either way, I loved it. The clues were definitely more entertaining than the answers, and with each one I marveled anew at the pronunciation variation in English.

    One cool thing I saw in the Wikipedia is that the rhymes in many old poems, that now just seem like sight rhymes (like "enemies" and "flies") were once true rhymes, but because of the Great Vowel Shift (and other phenomena), they have since changed.

    Language is fun.