Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018, Sam Trabucco

12:53 (on paper)

Oh, boy, this was tougher than I expected. When I started solving on paper, I figured that my times on the easier days would definitely suffer, but that I'd make it up on the harder puzzles, where rushing through clues would not be the order of the day.

Well, not today. Or maybe Thursdays are not the best test of that theory, due to the trickery involved. And today's has a wonderful trick.

"Line from someone who's been interrupted" is the clue for each of the "15-letter" answers that span the grid at 16A, 36A, and 55A. In fact, each answer is 17-letters long, but they're interrupted after letter 14 to make an extra 3-letter answer that sits at the beginning of the line below. To fill out the grid spanners, a "-" is put into its place, just as you would when reading a book. That dash is then incorporated into the down answers appropriately. I think it's brilliant.

I like the first and the third of the theme answers better than the second, if only because DOILOOKLIKEIMD-[ONE] puts the line break in a place that would never occur in print because it's not between two syllables. The other two theme answers do obey that rule, and thus work much better.

Also nice that the 3-letter leftovers work as answers in their own right. To that end, ISH and ONE are clearly better than ING, which is clued as a partial key signature. It is certainly true that Beethoven's Minuet in G is very well known, and is typically called that, so that improves the quality, but still.

Finally, the three down answers that use the dashes are reasonably well accepted. I like HI-C and NO-NO better than A-Z. When I first had A_Z in place at 35 down, I thought about sticking a rebus "to" in that square, recognizing the Thursday-ness of the puzzle, but couldn't see how that would work with the across answer.

My errors which slowed me down included:

22A: CALtech (I should have known better)
5D: "avast" (reasonable)
21A: "intro" (very reasonable - and I'd say a better answer than BASIC)
26A: iRAqi (very quickly recognized that this couldn't be correct)

The rest was just struggle recognizing the theme.

Also - I'll shout out JELLYROLLS, TALKSTRASH, and probably my favorite of the year so far, 9D: Co-written best seller (THEBIBLE). I also found 40A: Is appealing (PLEADS) such a great unexpected twist of a normal appearing clue. Finally, how about the little Marcel Marceau mini-theme with MIME, NON, et OUI? Très Français!

All so good, I'm overlooking that ABRA at 1A.

- Colum


  1. 19:13 (half on paper)
    I started this at home with Across Lite, printed it out with 6:17 on the timer, then finished it later on in the morning at work (during a break, of course). All of my "-" entries are in pen, indicating correctly that I didn't figure the trick out until I was solving on paper. I thought it was all excellent, even the DOILOOKLIKEIMD-/ONE, just because it's as if the person were interrupted again saying that. I also originally wanted avast at 5D, but I'd already entered CLASH at 20A, so the "A" in the fourth place didn't work. I like BELAY better, because it reminds me of Star Trek. (Is anyone else watching the fantastic "Discovery" on CBS All Access?) I'm with Colum on the "intro" thing where BASIC goes, and with the terrible ABRA. Anyway, overall excellent Thursday.

  2. 13:20
    I could tell pretty early on that this was going to be one of those annoying themes, so I tried to ignore it as long as possible and just fill in what I could. Overall that seemed to work in my favor.

    I agree that the second themer was weaker than the others; but I'm sure this was pretty tough to pull off so I'll let it slide.

    I also had AVAST initially for 5D.

    I think "Ewe can do it!" is a stretch for BAA (33A).

  3. 12:36
    "Annoying" themes? Whatever do you mean, Mr. Berman?

    I had CALtech and intro, but like Huygens, I had something in already that prevented me from entering avast. The toughest entry for me was MRISCAN (Body shot?) (nice clue!). I didn't know the Vermont senator (if only they had referenced the runner-up from the only American Idol season I ever knew anything about!), and NO-NO had not yet become clear to me. So MRISC__ looked very bad. Hah!

    I found the theme quite fresh and enjoyable, but I do agree with Mr. Berman on BAA.

    And now I'm going to go see if I can somehow make a page where we can rack up favorite clues for the year...

    1. Yes, the theme was definitely fresh. I only meant annoying in the sense of "it's going to take me a fair investment of time to try to suss it out, which will have me annoyed that I didn't wait to try to figure it out until I had more of the fill to work with". A more thoughtful choice of words may have been "challenging themes".

  4. OK, folks, it looks like it's going to be a blog post that we continually update. We'll have a link to it over on the sidebar.