Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017, Clive Probert

0:09:04 (F.W.T.E.)

Man, I really flailed at the end of this, ending up with TEaTsME instead of TEETIME (24A: Meeting info for golfers) which makes so much more sense. I was only looking at the Downs, and sMS seemed good for "25D: Modern communications of a sort, in brief" (IMS), and MNEMa seemed possible. I keep telling myself I've got to study the Greeks more, but without that knowledge stuck in my mind ready to be drawn upon, MNEME (3D: Muse of memory) was inaccessible. I could guess the first four letters, but then what? I was thinking of "mnemonic," of course, but tried to make it feminine with an A, but that's Roman, not Greek. Think of Sappho, or Erato! Anyway, that's far too much on this topic. Let me just end by saying I hope you did better with this.


So what have we got here? Lots of Ms. I first noticed the diagonal strings of them running here and there, and slowly realized that every single answer has at least one M. And every clue begins with M! So many Ms!

You'd think that a stunt like this would cause some trouble, and indeed, the West, particularly, is bad. For the two long Downs - ALMAMATER (32D: Michigan State, for a Spartans alumnus) (odd clue) and METRONOME (33D: Musician's tempo keeper) (excellent), we suffer. Sure, SAMOS (31A: Member of the ancient Ionian League) is a real, albeit obscure, place, but ELEM (36A: Molybdenum, for one: Abbr.), AMT (39A: Milliliter, e.g.: Abbr.), and MAR (42A: Mo. with St. Patrick's Day) are a lot to bear.

It certainly wasn't all bad, though. MEDIANS (37D: Mean relatives?), ANGSTROM (4D: Minute length), and MOMENTUM (38D: Motion creates it) are all great, and give the puzzle a science-y feel. SIMIAN (44D: Monkey, for one), MANES (37A: Mares' hair), and MOHAIR (45A: Material from Angora goats) add in the animal kingdom. And DIADEM (22A: Monarch's headband), MOSES (41A: Mount Sinai climber), and SIMBA (59A: Matthew Broderick voice role) give it a kingly air.

At first I thought the revealer might be 26-Across, "Made music on a comb" (HUMMED), but it is probably 28D: "Melts in your mouth" candy (MANDM). Because everywhere you look there's an M and then another M. It's certainly not UNUM, because there's way more than just one. Guffaw.

1A: EMMA (Miss Wodehouse, in literature) - B. (For Frannie)
Best: I guess I've got to go with MEDIANS
Worst: 27A: Hotel units (RMS)

Certainly there were some rough patches (TAMA, RCMP, EDOM...), but overall, I have to say this was not that bad. I have come around in my support for stunt puzzles, thanks, in part, perhaps, to talking with one of the stunt puzzle kings, Bruce Haight. In the end, it's a diversion, right? Why not push the boundaries a bit and have some fun with it?

- Horace


  1. 10:36
    MEDIANS, even though it's a plural, was my favorite, too, but probably for a different reason than Horace's. I had no idea of the theme, but now that I look at the clues and puzzle closely, it's fairly impressive. I'll just add that I thought I was in for big problems in the SE when I had NM_X at 53A Mountainous state: Abbr., but that was before I read the clue; it just looked so odd. Oh, and I entered atoM off of the ___M for the molybdenum clue until I got to 54A Molecular unit (ATOM). Realizing this isn't the Webster Times, I knew that the same answer would probably not occur in the puzzle twice.

  2. 4:39
    HMMMMMM. Once I figured out the Ms, it became easier. Almost any unknown square, consider M. Anyway, MANDM? Yummmmmm!

  3. 6:14 (FWOE)
    I am not familiar with SEAM as a mining term, nor with SAMOS (or something apparently called the Ionian league).

    Other that that, the M's gimmick only slowed me a bit.