Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017, Howard Barkin


Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope everybody is feeling stuffed and happy, unlike our turkey brethren, who were stuffed and unhappy about it.

I had a really hard time with today's puzzle, and I can't exactly say why. The theme is relatively straightforward, although I could barely grasp it while solving. Essentially, each answer is derived from a well-known title, each of which has a number in it. That number is mathematically manipulated, and the resulting phrase is then clued using that manipulation. Got it?

Yeah, so I didn't see it at all for a long time. 20A: Halftime show? (THIRTYMINUTES) I was able to fill in from a lot of crosses and some logic, but I didn't see why. A show that lasts an hour? Okay, a lot of shows last that long. But no, the original title is, of course, "Sixty Minutes," a very well known TV show where the number has been cut in half. Very nice.

Especially well done is the fact that you have a TV show, a movie, a play, a plantation estate, and a band. The clues are brilliant as well. 30A: Double feature? (SIXAMIGOS) is very strong (from "Three Amigos"). 38A: Triple play? (RICHARDIX) is very good, especially that the number tripled has remained in Roman numeral form. 50A: Fourth estate? (THREEOAKS) is very good, even if "Twelve Oaks" from Gone With The Wind is not in common parlance any more. And finally, 59A: Fifth act? (THEJACKSONONE) is where I finally understood what the heck was going on ("The Jackson Five").

The place I spent the vast majority of my time was around the crossing of JODECI (who? when? I have no idea who these people are) and ACIDY (not a great answer, honestly). 11D: Declaration at the end of a chess game (IRESIGN) was hard to find. I was stuck thinking of "and mate." I had a very difficult time figuring out JIVE and VAC as well. So that whole corner took a long time.

Otherwise I don't have a lot to comment on. I broke in at MOVIE and MERYL, a nice crossing, especially with EBERT right below. I also liked BRITCOM.

1A: Completion of filming (WRAP) -B. Straightforward.

I hope to have better performances tomorrow and Saturday. Here's to the rest of the turn!

- Colum


  1. 11:42
    Although this puzzle was penned by a friend, I had the same struggles with the theme as Mr. Amory. But nothing unreasonable for a Thursday.

    However, I was fortunate not to get hung up on any of the fill, and did finally work the theme out in time to fix up the remaining items.

    The item that gave me the most trouble was INCA (64A: Smallpox victims of the 1500s), as I can't seem to wrap my head around Inca being plural.

  2. 28:26
    I found this a bit tough for a Thursday, too, but really enjoyed the mathematical-ish theme. I first wrote in BRITish for BRITCOM, but the crosses fixed that up pretty quickly. I didn't really get the theme until SIXAMIGOS became clear, then the other theme answers were not a problem. ACIDY is bad, and I, too, never heard of these JODECI JIVE turkeys. Nice that the MOON (with its great clue 68A A new one is nearly invisible) and Mars (even though it was of the BRUNO variety) were adjacent. Of course, I'd quibble that a new MOON is, indeed, invisible (no qualifier) except in the case of an eclipse of the partial, annular or total varieties.

  3. 27:21
    I always like seeing Mr. Barkin's name. He won the ACPT in 2016, and he's a real nice guy.

    Fun theme, once I cottoned to it, and once you explained the "Sixty Minutes" thing. Boy, I just couldn't figure that one out!

    I feel I've been having a bit of a slowdown in puzzle times lately (which will culminate, hopefully, with this coming Saturday!), but I guess it's better to have this kind of a spell now, in the late fall, than right around the ACPT. Hopefully, I'll have snapped out of it by then.

    Hi Howard!