Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017, Michael Hawkins


Just yesterday in xwordinfo.com Jeff Chen mentioned that he was once cautioned against using "stair steps" of black squares around three letter words, as the puzzle can be made to feel a little tight. Today, however, it's almost nothing but stair steps (!), leading up to (or down to) the theme answers of STAIRCASEWIT (17A: Cleverness thought of too late to use) (I like this phrase, and I feel like I've heard it before, but it's not something I ever think of), ESCALATORCLAUSE (30A: Flexible contract provision) (not familiar to me), and ONTHEUPANDUP (42A: Straight-shooting) (my favorite).

1A: Braided Jewish bread (CHALLAH) - B+. Who doesn't enjoy a challah?
Favorite: 26A: Place to find a pen and teller (BANK) - Nice elevation of an average word.
Least: REUNESASYLA was also in the running.

Mr. Hawkins makes good use of the long downs today, getting in such fine words as HESITANT (7D: Wondering "Should I? Should I not?"), the full ETCETERA with its fun clue "Latin phrase used listlessly?," FROWNED UPON (10D: Discouraged), and the disturbing ROCKOPERA. And in the small stuff, SCRY (27D: Foretell the future by using a crystal ball) isn't something you hear very often. For some reason, I like that better than REUNES and ASYLA, but as I write this I can no longer tell if that is justified. It really is just a shortening of descry, isn't it? Hmmm...

Overall, I like this one, I guess. I'm not sure just how to describe it, so I'll use one of Amy Reynaldo's phrases - "Tuesdays gonna tues." That about sums it up.

- Horace


  1. 4:33
    Not a huge fan, but it works well enough. I also have never heard of the first two theme phrases, but both Google perfectly fine. I liked ICECUBETRAY and ETCETERA the best. REUNES and ASYLA are poor but acceptable for the return. On the other hand, what is an ANTEHALL? Shouldn't that be "anteroom"? I mean, I know what it is, but who ever says it? SCRY is fine. It has a different meaning from "descry" which is just to catch sight of something, whereas "scry" means just what the clue says. CHALLAH is wonderful, and everybody loves it. I'd give it an A-, but that might just be in comparison to recent 1A fluff.

    1. I guess I was hard on ol' CHALLAH because it lacked humor, but yeah, in comparison to the recent stuff, I might be convinced to move it up.

  2. 9:19
    I'm back (and I'll be going back to Friday's puzzle blog). It was a very busy pond weekend and now being back to work after a week off is frantic, also, but I'm catching up. No mention of SATIATE or TRICORN? I never heard of the first two theme phrases either. SORDID is good, and PORK could have been clued more entertainingly. Does SARALEE make a CHALLAH?