Sunday, September 2, 2018

Sunday, September 2, 2018, Tom McCoy


A fun theme of classic foes going head to head. It's more like back to back, in my opinion, but then that wouldn't be much of a pun, so I guess I'll agree with Mr. McCoy. And really, the heads of each word are touching, so... it's fine. What am I complaining about!


And a pretty nice trick it is to have made eight of these work. SUESEHTMINOTAUR (22A: Showdown in Greek mythology) was the one that finally broke it for me, and by then I had quite a few crosses in place for the others, which let them all fell pretty fast. Well, all except OIRAMBOWSER (28A: Showdown in classic video games) because I did not know the name Bowser. In fact, I didn't know ELISE (15D: Stefanik who is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress) (30, NY) either, and guessed a "z" in that spot at first, leading to a FWOE. AHME.

I enjoyed quite a bit the bonus material found in the Downs today, especially NOSTRILS (4D: They're found under a bridge) (Tricky!), COOKIECUTTER (60D: Undistinguished, as many a subdivision house), AMENTOTHAT (3D: "I couldn't agree more"), and NOCALLLIST (75D: Numbers to avoid) (All those Ls!). What I thought was a bit UNIDEAL were things like NOWISE (37A: Not in any way), SCHS (47A: Univs., e.g.), and WORST (38D: Defeat). Can that even be used in that way? "It was the WORST WORST in the team's history." "That WORST really stung!" "The thrill of victory, the agony of WORST." What am I not understanding here?

Still, there's only a little bit of junk, and overall I really liked this puzzle. The cluing was lively (18A: Strong suit? (ARMOR), 11A: Word that looks like its meaning when written in lowercase (BED), 66A: Brightly colored blazer (SUN), 34A: Tours can be seen on it (LOIRE)), and the theme was well done.

Thumbs up!

- Horace


  1. Totally agreed on WORST. Apparently there is a rare meaning of defeat, but few of the commentators I browsed on other blogs were familiar with it.

    I liked the theme here (despite the obvious warts, like first name LUKE paired with full name DARTHVADER). It also unfolded nicely during my solve: as crosses started rolling in, it was clear something fishy was going on, but it wasn't until the latter half of themers started looking like words that I went from "something odd" to trying to figure out what. I think MINOTAUR was the first fragment, but I was trying out things like "the" and "Zeus" so I don't remember which backward entry was first for me.

    The "under a bridge" was nice. I suspected something (partly because what's under a regular bridge other than a troll?) but wasn't really thinking of other kinds of bridges until I had a bunch of crosses.

    Oh and the infamous Mauna ___. I really should leave that one blank rather than just fill in keA and say to myself "of course it could be the other one".

    Favorite entry? Well, I did like NOWWHEREWASI but I'll pick a favorite which wasn't as big and showy: PUTTS.

  2. Well, WORST is being used as a verb here. To worst someone is to defeat them. I liked the head to head aspect of this puzzle very much.

    1. I suppose it has to be a verb, which is amusing, anyway, because it means that both "best" and "worst" can mean defeat, but I further challenge the word because the use of either as a first person present verb is extremely rare. "I worst you every time we play!" Or even, "They best us every time we meet." ? Not in this century, bub.