Saturday, September 22, 2018

Saturday, September 22, 2018, Sam Trabucco


Why did I have such trouble with 1A: Eats before dinner? (APPETIZER)? I immediately thought "hors d'oeuvres" which was three letters too long. I then thought of the actual answer, but wanted it to be plural because of the first word of the clue. If we're taking that to be a noun, then shouldn't the answer be plural? Or does the term "appetizer" encompass multiple foods? I remain unconvinced.

Meanwhile, 12D: "Elektra" composer (STRAUSS) provided my first real foothold. If you don't know this opera, you're missing out. Unless you just really don't like opera, then ICONCEDE you might not enjoy this particular example either. From there I worked my way down and across.

The middle offset stack of five answers are pretty good. On the positive side is THETIMEWARP and the very amusing clue at 36A: Way to get around writer's block? (PRESSPASS). CHARLIEROSE on the other hand is a sorry reminder of the state of white (mostly straight) male poor behavior nowadays. It makes me unhappy to belong to that group. Maybe some AAMEETINGS for them folks might cause some change for the better.

On the down side, IOLA. I looked it up. I hope we have no readers here from that fair metropolis, because I'm going to go on record right here and say that 5,000 people does not a city make. And I really have a hard time believing that it's crossword worthy. Would we, with our northeast bias, expect solvers from the midwest to know that Barre, Massachusetts exists? It has about the same population. I looked that up too.

Anyway, other than that unfortunate BLAT, I enjoyed the puzzle. It was a good challenge. The two 15-letter answers are excellent. I also will say I am amused that the PEEDEE and the MEKONG are nearly symmetrically placed. The latter is ten times (!) longer than the former.

And there's your geography lesson for the day.

- Colum


  1. 9:33
    I think that it's not APPETIZER that is taken to be a plural, but "eats" that is taken to be singular.
    IOLA is the new Natick, but even Natick has a population of over 30,000!

    Agree about CHARLIEROSE. And about AAMEETINGS. What a tricky question! And speaking of that latter, what do you make of all the news about the dangers of alcohol coming out recently? The latest is that it is responsible for 5% of all deaths, worldwide. That's kind of a lot.
    Anyway, I liked this puzzle, too. And although I do not know "Elektra," we just saw "La Reine de Saba" by Gounod last night. I liked the music and the voices a lot, but I'm getting a little tired of people cursing other people in operas.

  2. Ok, alcohol is not responsible for any deaths, any more than guns, or cars, or weather, is responsible for deaths. If someone imbibes, it is volitional. A parked car has never hurt anyone, unless, a baby or pet was left inside to cook. A weapon does not do its dirty work without the aid of a person. People just are loath to take responsibility, they are lame and unworthy. Jeff Radin, Venice Ca

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mr. Radin.

      I used to take that stance - that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," but lately I've changed my tune. I still agree with you that people are - or ought to be - responsible for their own actions, but I also believe that guns make it far easier to act in anger and in haste. Without such ready, easy access to a gun, many people would not commit murder. I also believe that speed limits and friends and relatives can help to prevent road deaths and alcohol abuse. We are just animals, but we are trying, with the help of the social contract that is society and government, to tame ourselves. That's the goal, anyway, as I see it.