Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017, David Kahn

6:28 (FWOE)

If it's Wednesday, it must be a word ladder. Or is the opposite? If it's a word ladder, it must be a Wednesday? Anyway, in either case, I'll take a good word ladder from time to time (de temps en temps, as Frannie would say). And this one is certainly ambitious. Each entry is 5 letters long, and there are nine total steps. In an additional lovely little twist, the central answer, BLADE, which has gone from BLUNT to SHARP, is tied to two extra 5-letter answers along the E and W sides, KNIFE and RAZOR.

Still... you really want every step in the word ladder to be widely accepted English words. Maybe one proper noun if necessary. Here, we have both BLART, the name of the main character in a movie which has 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, and SLADE, a glam rock band from the United Kingdom (yes, they had 6 certified #1 hits in England, but never reached higher than 60 here in the biased US of A). So that tarnishes the ladder somewhat.

Anyway, all of that theme (-ish) material means that there are really no standout filler entries. The longest six are 7 letters long, and really, STAPLES, UKULELE, TEALEAF, STEWARD, STUDIOS, and OLEMISS are not exactly world beaters.

On the other hand, the puzzle on the whole is pretty smooth. I made a stoopid error by putting in OsAMA instead of OBAMA. I mean, really? Too soon? Check your crosses, people.

I was amused by the brazenness of 6D: Rep. or Dem., e.g. (ABBR). That's putting it right there in your face. Guess that's why there's no "abbr." in the clue! Also, 22A: No longer in bed? (AWEIGH) is a tough misdirection of a clue! Very clever. And lastly, in the clever clue business, there's 55A: Cabbage or kale (DOREMI), which is referring here to money, moolah, dough.

Don't like ICERS, partial ANERA, or ever thinking about STYES.

Otherwise, I guess on the whole I'll give it a thumbs up.

- Colum


  1. 8:28
    I liked the BLUNT/KNIFE/SHARP aspect of the ladder enough to overlook the two you mention. Besides, I have a soft spot for Kevin James, so even though I've never seen the film, BLART amuses me.

    Also, I've been learning on Duolingo recently, so I was very happy to see ELA in the grid. Woohoo!

  2. p.s. Frannie and I just had a brief discussion about marsupials, and I quickly came up with three - KOALA, kangaroo, and opossum, but then I looked it up. I didn't realize that wombats and Tasmanian devils were also marsupials, and get a load of these so-called animal names: numbat, bandicoot, bettong, bilby, quoll, quokka, and potoroo. All marsupials. What the what is going on down under?!

    1. I like numbat the best. After all, where does that creature do its laundry? That's right, at the laundronumbat.

  3. 11:43
    I'm tepid on marsupials; dumb system for the most part. I do, however, enjoy a word ladder, partly because it helps me with the fill quite a bit. I, too, enjoy Kevin James but have never seen the "Paul BLART, Mall Cop" movies, and probably never will. I needed the crosses for ZEB, never being a fan of The Waltons. CUTTLE was a welcome and surprising answer at 54A Sea creature with eight arms. I loved DOREMI, the clue for RADIO (42A What comes in waves?) and, of course, ASSES (6A Pinheads). I didn't know of DEREK Carr, but overall it was a smooth puzzle.

  4. 12:10
    I had a dreadful time with this Wednesday puzzle. Felt like I never heard of many words, including those you noted above plus EWELL, ANNEAL, ZEB, and the list goes on. I also filled in DAVID for NFL QB Carr (which is correct, by the way) and it took me forever to get that fixed.

    It probably also didn't help my time that Roger Federer was in a 5th set of his first round match at the US Open as I was working on this.