Thursday, November 2, 2017

Thursday, November 2, 2017, Peter Sagal and Mike Selinker


Well, I have to give a CHEER (and not of the Bronx variety) for the theme today, especially the way it's constructed.

My brother is considering running in the NEWYORKMARATHON, although I'm not clear if he's actually considering doing it this year. He's been volunteering for the NYC Runners' Club for some time, and has built up enough equity to run without qualifying by time. In any case, should he run in the race, it starts in the SW corner of the greater NYC region, in Staten Island.

You don't take the FERRY to get to Brooklyn (where the DODGERS once played), just to the NE, across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. You see where this is going, don't you? Each BOROUGH is placed in the puzzle exactly where it lives in New York City! That would be tough enough, but the theme answers actually all obey standard symmetry rules as well. That's some fine work.

The other two theme answers are [Queen's] ENGLISH and (The) [Manhattan] PROJECT. I'm not as fond of the last or the Brooklyn answer because of the need for an understood and thus omitted definite article. Still, very nice work here.

The puzzle is very segmented, likely to avoid really difficult crossings and poor fill. IDONTMIND this trade-off today. Note that there are no answers that cross three theme answers.

Fill I liked included WIKIPEDIA, with its SLY clue about teachers and footnotes. I also liked the trivia clue at 14A: Freddie Mercury or Martin Sheen (STAGENAME). Those two individuals were born Farrokh Bulsara and Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez. I can't imagine what societal pressures forced them to consider alternative names.

I'm not convinced by 17A: Little Dipper's place (URSAMINOR). It's not like the Little Dipper is a part of Ursa Minor. They are one and the same. 27A: Trump is often involved in these (BIDS) leads me to sigh as I realized we're going to have a lot of Bridge related jokey puns involving the President's name over the next three years.

1A: Any of the Galápagos, e.g. (ISLA) - C-. Although I have gotten to use option-E three times in this review now.
Fave: MOO (36A: "Why, yes, I am, in fact, a cow"). For the all time win.

- Colum

P.S. I'm not sure how I missed that Peter Sagal is that Peter Sagal, the host of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! One of my all time favorite shows, also explaining the reference at 52D.


  1. 18:18
    I'm sure you meant 7 years up there, Colum, no? Anyway, I, too, loved this theme. Sue's run this race twice, once while I CHEERed her on from various places along the route. And the distinction, of course, between the Little Dipper and URSAMINOR is that the latter is the constellation, while the former is considered to be an asterism, even though it's made up of the same number of stars. For this reason, I concede that an argument can be made that it's not, in fact, an asterism, but I contend that it is, and that the clue is therefore valid IMHO. I didn't love the plural OPIUMS, and was briefly confused by HYMNAL because it mentioned "back of a pew" in the clue and it took me a short while to realize that it's not where one's back goes, but where one faces from the pew in the rear, so it's literally on the back of the pew. Anyway, I'm probably the only one that was momentarily confused by that, but IDONTMIND. I agree with MOO, which is excellent. I'll have to show the puzzle to Sue now, even though she'll probably get a bit angry.

  2. MOO was one of those answers where early on I said, "hmm, is that just simply MOO?" and for reasons which aren't so clear in hindsight, doubted myself for much of the solve (I mean, sure, of course I should be on the lookout for trickery, I'm just not sure what other direction that answer could have gone in).

    Loved the theme (hard to pick a favorite, they are all strong, but maybe FERRY just in honor of a man who I once met who introduced himself with: "you may have heard of the Staten Island Fairy, well here I am").

    Also liked EMOJI (once I figured out the clue wasn't the title of a rock song), SLING, and well even the forced plural OPIUMS.

  3. I had the same problem with pew as you for a few, Huygens. I also loved MOO. I liked the simplicity of IMGAY for a coimg out phrase. I'm sorry to say I didn't really notice the theme. I blame it on my slight aversion to puzzles with circles. Don't TASE me.

  4. 18:12
    This was a particularly elaborate theme. Very well done.