Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wednesday, January 10, 2018, Senator Joe Donnelly and Michael S. Maurer

7:19 (on paper)

I've lost track of how many celebrity puzzle creators we've had so far. But I'll go on record as saying that I like the concept. Today's blurb provided a big hint to the theme when it called Senator Donnelly a "basketball loving" gentleman. And in fact, he does seem to have a fondness for the game, as he has provided five basketball related terms, clued wackily. My favorite by far is 18A: Gutterball? (ALLEYOOPS). That's a winner in my book. I also enjoyed 60A: Something bleeped out of television? (FOULLINE). I'm less enamored of BANKSHOT (and its unpleasant cousin at 38D) or of FASTBREAK, which feels too close to the actual terminology for any dinner that ends a period of fasting.

I brayed at 7A: Smart farm animal? (WISEASS), and the pair of clues for The end of the British monarchy? (ZED and ARSE) also gave me no end of amusement.

I had only one place where I had to erase today, at 32D: One might say "Happy Birthday." Here I had CA__ in place already and went with CArd. In fact, and reasonably so, the answer was CAKE. It slowed my entry into the SE corner, which along with the NW corner were unfortunately segregated from the rest of the puzzle. It didn't help that LINSEEDS was an answer that entered the corner, even once I'd corrected my mistake. (Note that the equivalent answer exiting the NW is SEVAREID, another real tough one). It seems to me that if you're going to compartmentalize the grid, it's worth your while to make it a little more gettable to make the move in or out.

How many people spell 1A: Exchange of words (DIALOG) that way? My instinct is to add the -UE at the end.

It's not a puzzle I'm going to OBSESS over, but it's certainly better than MEH.

- Colum


  1. 6:10
    My first decent effort of the week, despite the celebrity author and small number of black squares for a Wednesday.

    I agree that the execution on ZED and ARSE was excellent. And DIALOG was horrible. If you're going to use that spelling, I'd like you to clue it as a computer pop-up window.

    I also had to "erase" CARD and replace it with CAKE.

    The one challenge I always found with paper is that the clues do not auto-highlight, so I waste about half the time hunting for the individual clues that correspond to the section I am working in the grid. I wonder if there is a way to train for this, like just taking out blank grids and seeing how fast I can jump my eyes from the numbers in the grid to the numbers in the clues. And what is the most effective use of my non-writing hand? Of course, at my mediocre speed none of this probably really matters.

  2. 12:12
    I thought that MY speed is mediocre. Anyway, I agree with DIALOG; should have a "ue" on the end, otherwise be clued as a variant. I'd say that the theme was relatively amusing and well done, and that there were more good than bad answers in the grid as a whole Sure, we've got AFEW DMZ, GMC, KGB and the plural PSAS in there, but other than the aforementioned SEVAREID, which is just barely Wednesday material (more properly Friday, I'd say) everything seemed just about right.

  3. I was less keen on the theme than Mr. Amory, perhaps because I don't take an interest in basketball. I agree that ALLEYOOPS was the best of the theme answers. Has anyone ever said, "I got my eyes LASED"? Maybe in Hollywood. I have a soft spot for the Chevy IMPALA, having driven a giant white one, nicknamed Moby, back and forth to college in my youth. I also liked ASSUAGES.

  4. 9:10
    Ahh, the great white Impala wagon whale... what a car!
    Anywho, it took me much longer than it should have to understand what was going on with the theme, and even when I did get a couple, I still had a hard time figuring out the rest. Still, enjoyable overall. I agree with Huygens that SEVAREID is Friday or Saturday fare. I've never heard that name.

  5. Oh, and I meant to mention, Mike, that sometimes when I do puzzles on paper and then have to write the review, I have the paper version beside my computer, and I have - several times - put my finger down onto a clue in the paper expecting the clue to show up. It's a strange feeling, realizing that your mind has been so confused.

    1. I would have loved to witness that!

    2. Pay attention if it's my week during the tournament and you see me writing the review in the hotel bar... :)