Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wednesday, January 31, 2018, Josh Radnor and Jeff Chen


What a weird-looking grid today! The middle section seems isolated from the north and south swaths of white, but the flow was not really all that bad for me. And that start of the puzzle was outstanding, with the triple stack of 8-letter answers.

So Mr. Radnor, who I recognize barely when I Google his name and see his picture, has crafted a winner of a celebrity puzzle, with Mr. Chen's expert help. I really love the revealer, which definitely wins for best revealer of the week so far (perhaps the previous two days set the bar a bit low, I admit). 50A: Calculated ... or a punny hint to 18-, 24-, 32- and 44-Across (PREMEDITATED) is a lovely way to reveal why OM- was added to each of the theme answers. I didn't need "punny" in the clue, however.

Meanwhile, the theme answers are pretty good. My favorite is 44A: Makes an unabridged humor book? (OMITSNOJOKE). It takes a definitely recognizable standard phrase ("it's no joke"), completely reworks it by adding the OM-, and then has a truly wacky clue. The idea of an immense book of jokes that leaves not a single one out is chuckle-worthy.

The others aren't quite as good, although I'm impressed by finding so many ways of using the OM- starter, particularly OMALLEYRATS, with the unexpressed apostrophe.

Meanwhile there is so much lovely stuff in the fill. I had a good feeling with 1A: Not seen by the theater audience (OFFSTAGE), perhaps a nod to Mr. Radnor's day job. But then to include the Ferris Bueller reference with DRONESON, and the fine clue at 16A: Women rush to get into it (SORORITY) was fine stuff.

I'm not convinced by OCTOPOD, but we ended with a nice reminder of things we hope to see on Sunday with TDPASSES. Oh, and 38D: It has no point (INTEGER) is going on the list of best clues of 2018.

- Colum


  1. 12:42
    You're right to put INTEGER on the list. That's a fine clue/answer right there.

    My least favorite was OMENVOGUE, because what's "en vogue?" Sure, Vogue is a magazine, and "en vogue" is a phrase, and a musical group, but ... well, as Frannie and I often say when we feel we are over-explaining something, "you know what I know."

    I spent a lot of time - so much that I thought I might DNF - trying to figure out OMALLEYCATS. I'm not familiar with Martin O'Malley, or O'Malley Martin, and RAN, SNOOPLION, and LOM were not exactly gimmes.

    I think everyone probably had OCTOPus first, right? OCTOPOD. Hmph. Which reminds me - did everyone see the story about how killer whales are starting to mimic human speech? They say "Hello" and "Goodbye," and one even said "Amy." ... Terrifying.

  2. 18:29
    I didn't love the INTEGER clue, personally. I was slowed down a bit with OMALLEYCATS because I wanted the Stray Cats in there, but then ERE didn't work, so I tried OMstrEYCATS, thinking maybe I remembered the Stray Cats spelling incorrectly, but the other crosses just didn't work. I mean, everyone remembers when Snoop changed his name to SNOOPLION a few years ago. Anyway, I agree with Colum on the OCTOPOD thing.