Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017, Talitha Randall


Kind of a strange Wednesday theme, but what's new, right? Three giant plus signs made from black squares make simple equations with the words to the immediate left and right, and the answer to each (all) is given in the last Across clue, 60A: NINE. Add in six (!) short, tied-in, Down answers, and you've got a pretty dense theme. I confess I like the look of the grid a lot, with its counter-clockwise swirl and those giant crosses, and although it's strange, I can't fault the theme, because a theme is a theme, and variety is always welcome.


It's interesting to me that MOTIFS and "motives" are both valid words, coming from the same root, that evolved to have different meanings.

At the bottom we get the trio of EDENIC, LIAISE, and SONANT, but these don't bother me. Sure, they're a little unusual, but they're all perfectly cromulent words. More genant to me are TERSER (1D: More concise) ("conciser?"), and INDIGENE (8D: Person native to an area), because they feel like more of a stretch. Also, INDIGENE comes from in + gignere (to be born) and "indigent" comes from in + egere (to need). Not that anyone asked me, but I'm finding lots of cool word-y stuff to look into today!

Funny that "Twister" fits in where TORNADO (35D: What transported Dorothy to Oz) touched down, and I liked the pair of paired women clues for REDHEADS (55A: Annie and the Little Mermaid, notably) and SWEDE (43D: Greta Garbo or Ingrid Bergman). And speaking of women, it's a lovely clue for SMILE (20A: "We shall never know all the good that a simple ____ can do": Mother Teresa).

Get me, I'm givin' out wings. The more I look at this, the more I like it. Lots of good words FORSAKEN, HEIFER, SCRAPE, CHIDES - a lovely grid and an unusual theme. Thumbs up for this debut puzzle. I look forward to more from Ms. Randall!

- Horace

p.s. 1A: Russian ruler (TSAR) - D- Kept out of F range because even overused, it's still a cool word.


  1. 10:45
    Wow...anti-TSAR over there! Surprising grade given the praise for the remainder of the puzzle; I expected at least a C. I, too, enjoyed the theme, even though it's based on very simple math. My final entry was the THOM/MARC cross, which I left because I didn't know either of the referenced individuals, but of course, M is the only real option. I mean, THOr is fine, but rARC probably isn't. I thought INDIGENE a bit odd, but the crosses were fine. I kept trying to crowbar iDylIC in (yeah, that's right, only one "l") where I eventually entered EDENIC, and that slowed me down in the SW. CHIDES, FORSAKEN and NONA weren't coming too fast down there. Other than that, I plowed through this puzzle in just a few minutes.

    1. Yeah, ok, maybe I was a little harsh on old TSAR. It was a knee-jerk reaction to starting off with something that - while not exactly crosswordese - is seen quite a lot in grids. Of course, I'd never give my old friend "eel" a D-... but then, what are reviews if not overly subjective?...

      Also, the "cz" spelling would have been much higher.

    2. Apparently the cool kids are into TSAR and not czAR. Something about how it is spelled or pronounced in Russian, which I don't know, but I have encountered TS as a common thing in other languages. English has it in chests for example, but in some languages it shows up a lot more.

  2. 4:51
    I never noticed the plus sign in the black squares until reading about it here (thanks Horace!), but was able to suss out what to do intuitively and so still finished just a few seconds off of my record Wednesday time.

    I agree that INDIGENE was a stretch and I had INDIGENT in there until I couldn't fight the battle any longer with FIVT going across.

    I almost didn't fill in TORNADO (35D) because I remembered the word being used already. But oops it was TORPEDOS (14A). A nice dyad to have in the same puzzle!

    Two more thumbs up from me to Ms. Randall.

  3. 5:04
    Hey, nice time, Mike! I really liked this puzzle. The three plus signs were a nice touch. Although part of me thinks it would be even better if there had been a way to fit in the six + three combo as well.

  4. Ah, those plus signs do make the answers which span them make more sense. I also thought the white squares in the NE corner were shaped like a 9.

    I got 60 across as like my second answer (after TSAR and then SEPT for 2 down), so that helped.

    Enjoyed it, final time 10:33 which is a whole lot faster than yesterday.