Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tuesday, August 21, 2018, John Lieb and Andrea Yañes


Maybe I'm just a BIGAPE, but I thought today's theme lacked afflatus. Circled  letters - not a favorite of mine - appear in sets of one to five within larger words across the grid. The circled letters "evolve" from the D within TENACIOUSD to the full word DARWIN (Evolution theorist ... or what the circled letters are evolving toward). The evolution is not completely linear; read left to right and top to bottom, it starts with D then goes to DA then DAN, then DARN to DARIN to DARWIN - just like in real human evolution.

I wondered if 14A: Skills (CRANIA), the above referenced BIGAPE (Galoot), and ATECROW, count as evolutionary-related material.

I liked GAPYEAR (Hiatus between high school and college). I kinda wish I had taken one myself, when I was a youth, but I don't think it was so much a thing way back when the earth was still warm. :)

I'm a big fan of The Three Musketeers. I just finished reading Le Vicomte de Bragelonne - all 2400 pages. ATHOS is pretty suave, but I think Porthos is my favorite. 

"Self-important minor official" TINGOD is also nice.

I'll make no bones about a couple of the answers that I thought were a bit off the mark.
17A: "M*A*S*H" transport, informally (COPTER) - shouldn't the answer have been Chopper?
31A: Hoppy brew (ALE)  - shouldn't the answer have been IPA?
33A. Vest openings (ARMHOLES) - what about neck and trunk holes (so to speak)?

Additionally, the grid seemed strewn with unpleasant remains and fossils like CNN, APPT, OME, TAUR, BCC, NCAA, WMD, NMI (?!?), SYL, and ONA.



  1. 4:36
    Yeah, the theme is actually pretty tight, in that each rung of the ladder is its own word in its phrase (TENACIOUS/D, DA/ALIGSHOW, etc.). But boy is there a ton of unpleasant glue here. NMI (no middle initial) is simply a non-starter. Resorting to ETD and ETA in the same puzzle is another one.


  2. 7:09

    Interesting about the theme being independent in each answer. I didn't even parse DA/ALI/G/SHOW properly until now. So thank you.

    But I agree with you, Colum, that NMI is nsfp (not safe for puzzles). Why not just make up any acronym you want?

    And Frannie, maybe the constructors were thinking only of zippered or buttoned vests, which, when open, would only have arm holes? But waidt? (Why am I defending them?)

  3. Good points about the fill. TAUR would be high on my list of pushing it. I'll give OME a pass for the literary clue. I too wanted "chopper". Sorta the way the whole puzzle went. You see the answer and you say, "oh, OK, I guess that's fair".

    On the plus side was PERUSAL. Just a fun word.