Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017, Michael Hawkins


Just this morning, I was saying to myself, what I really need is a bunch of plumber puns. Where can I find some?

In the NYT Xword, it turns out! What a coincidence.

Actually, I really enjoyed these. Four idioms, tied back to the plumbing trade, all four standard and widely used. So the theme worked. My favorite was RUNSHOTANDCOLD.

But the puzzle really shone with the long fill. I liked every answer that was longer than 5 letters with the exception (mildly) of STOKERS, just because it was a plural.

The NE and SW corners have two pairs of excellent 9-letter answers. TOLLROADS had the peculiar clue of "Booths are set up in them". What a strange way to get at that answer! I liked its pair much better (12D: Have some trouble focusing - SEEDOUBLE, or as we say in Neurology, "have diplopia"). I got the added bonus of LOBE later on.

IMNOTSURE and GAGWRITER were excellent. 33D: One doing sketch work? is a very nice clue.

1A: Rio dance (SAMBA) - C. I never like these South American dances because it could be this, or "rumba" or "salsa". It helped to have the Game of Thrones answer with STARK at 1D.
Fave: IMHO (53D: Initialism whose third initial often isn't true) - love the clue to death.
Least fave: NODTO (59A: Give the O.K.) - I just don't get this. When I nod to someone, I'm greeting them, acknowledging them. I'm not permitting them to do something.

Shout out to 5D: It's used to pave the way (ASPHALT) - nice non-question mark cluing.

- Colum


  1. 11:52
    NODTO is fine; colloquially, when one gives a "nod to" something, it's giving the OK for it. I'll have to start using "diplopia" in daily conversation. I, too, enjoyed the theme. My least favorite crossing, oddly, is EXED/XMAS, even though it's on an X. And speaking of NODTO, nice that it's directly over good ol' Buddy EBSEN, who was given an unnecessarily long clue, IMHO. Excellent clue for EIGHT (31A Black ball).

    1. This seems odd to argue this much over, but I disagree about "nod to". To give the okay is to "give the nod to". Not just "nod to". That's saying hi.

  2. 7:47
    I don't like clues from Game of Thrones and The Sopranos. They discriminate against us huddled masses who cannot afford HBO. I guess STARK needs to go on to my list with EDIE FALCO of names I'll just have to learn to do these puzzles. I'm sure the average NYT subscriber can afford all of the pay channels and then some.

    WETLY was a stretch (65A: How sloppy kissers kiss).

    1. Well, I knew STARK from the books well before the TV series came out.

    2. Also, there's always Netflix and Amazon for streaming, which is probably more cost-effective than premium channels. That's what we have here at the YBH. But we're still hopelessly behind the times. I'm currently finishing up with Deep Space Nine, so Game of Thrones should be up sometime in the mid-2020s.

  3. 9:24
    STARK was a problem for me, too, especially where it crossed TREES, which tricked me for a long time.

    I, too, enjoyed the plumbers puns. And I agree that "give the nod to" is more commonly heard.