Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017, Benjamin Kramer


I learned the name of a new cheese today: SIRENE. From the Wikipedia I find that it is especially well-known in the Balkans, and in the Bulgarian language, SIRENE is used as a general term for any type of cheese. Perhaps uncoincidentally, in Israel and Lebanon SIRENE is called "Bulgarian cheese." Wikipedia also backs up that it is essentially identical to Feta, but Feta is a "Protected Designation of Origin" name that can only be used if the cheese comes from Greece.


So that was interesting. The cross with FERRITE (16A: Iron compound found in steel) was an educated guess, and one that most people will probably be able to make, but still, that's a tough cross. And in a somewhat amazing coincidence, the symmetrical crossing square is also difficult: TOEPOKE (60A: Unconventional soccer kick) and MINOSO (47D: Minnie who played in Major League Baseball in five different decades). The Cuban Comet's last game was 37 years ago, and I've never heard TOEPOKE before, despite having both played and followed soccer at various points in my life. I guess not seriously enough, though.

1A: Certain chemical weapon (GASBOMB) - D-. Probably should be F.
Best: the word "trenchant" which I keep wishing were the beginning of 18A.
Worst: AMA (37A: Reddit Q&A session, briefly) - What is this?

There was some good material in here - LENIENT, EFFUSED, AVIATOR, and VAGRANTS (32D: Drifters) are all fancy, but I didn't particularly love the overall vibe. That GASBOMB beginning was off-putting, and then there's MOTH-eaten and DIE and GOKAPUT and REFI, LIA, URAL, and OTIC. Hey, Frannie noticed that "ambush" has exactly the same number of letters as WAYLAY (63A: Attack from a hiding place), and as she entered it she thought "What a perfect clue for that word." Indeed, "ambush" is used as a definition for WAYLAY in my dictionary.

Looking it over, I see lots of good, but for some reason, it just didn't enchant, rivet, and delight me. Perhaps it was that entrance that didn't entrance me...

- Horace

p.s. I see that this is a debut, which makes me a little sorry I didn't like it more. I will say that I much preferred Mr. Kramer's original revealer, "Hidden entrance," that he mentioned on xwordinfo. As I said, I see a lot of good, and I look forward to seeing his next effort!


  1. 6:14
    Yes, I like the original revealer much more. MAKEANENTRANCE just doesn't sound right when pronounced the way it's intended.

    What about ADAMANCY? What do we think of this oddity? On the other hand, I really enjoy NFLLOGO for some reason.

  2. AMA = Ask Me Anything. When someone hosts a reddit AMA, redditors submit all their questions, and the subject answers the most upvoted or most interesting ones.

  3. 13:02 (FWTE)
    I put GelBONB in, thinking that the crosses were fine, as I'd never heard of SIRENE before. GASBOMB is terrible, but I should have been able to see it from the G__BOMB. All of the remaining were fine. Decent for a debut. I enjoyed some TOFU as my main course Wednesday, my favorite of the three salad days of each week. MAGI is timely, but GOAT should have been clued as "One of your favorite cheeses" to partner with SIRENE.

  4. 8:50
    I didn't much care for the theme, as the hidden words didn't seem to connote making an entrance. But anyhow it was enjoyable enough for a Wednesday.

    The word DRIVETHROUGH looks odd to me. Where I come from, it's DRIVETHRU. I see DRIVETHROUGH as more of an elite term, so I guess the NYT readership probably had no issue. To me, DRIVETHROUGH is maybe something you do in between rounds of golf as attendants are tossing caviar and tiny little sandwiches into your golf cart.

    1. No, Mike, it's "make an enTRANCE", as in "fill with delight". Get it?

    2. Love that image, Mike. Makes me want to head out to the links again soon!

    3. Ah, thanks Colin. I should have read the end of Horace's summary more carefully. I guess I need my standard 4 theme entries, as three is apparently not enough for me to get it!