Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tuesday, September 18, 2018, Greg Johnson

5:08 (FWOE)

The scientist in me is quite pleased with today's theme. There are three common molecules, all typically encountered as gases, represented in their standard chemical notation in the grid. METHANE comes up as a C surrounded in each direction by an H, while the double bonds found in CARBONDIOXIDE shows up as OCO in AMOCO. It's quite clever, and the placement of the molecules makes them seem like they're actually floating in the grid.

It's a nice find that WITHCHEESE and JOHNHUGHES are the same length, both with those H_H patterns. I'm not as used to seeing AHCHOO as "achoo" in the grid, but DONHO is an old friend.

There are definitely some tradeoffs in the fill, however. The middle W section is rough, with ECONO prefix, MOLAR crossing MALAR and abbreviation MAJ. The middle E section is better, even with OMG crossing NGO. I made a silly error by misreading 26D: Easily changing emotions (MOODY) as describing the emotions rather than the person experiencing the emotions, and put in MOODs. Always check the crosses!

Also finding IMAC and IPOD in the same puzzle?

On the other hand, who doesn't like 4D: Group in a pit (ORCHESTRA)? And 24A: Wearers of kilts (SCOTSMEN) is also very good.

On the other other hand, I could do without the image conjured up by HOTWAX. Guess I'm just swimming in my male privilege.

- Colum


  1. I do like the theme, which I first noticed as soon as I had WITHCHEESE and AHCHOO ("ooh, a methane molecule!" although I hadn't read the rest of the puzzle so I was wondering if there would be more methane or what).

    I want MALAR to be about apples, but that's just because Malus is the scientific name for apples and crabapples.

    Fill in general.... well let's just talk about ORCHESTRA and leave it at that.

  2. 6:07 (FWOE)
    I made the exact same mistake as you, Colum!
    JORDACHE and JOHNHUGHES made for a nice '80s throwback section.
    As for the Latin: Malus = bad, malum = apple, mala = jaw.

    1. I think that's why they tell us to say "scientific name" (a la Linnaeus, botanical nomenclature, etc) rather than "Latin name". Although scientific names follow certain rules of New Latin spelling and gender, the actual word can come from Greek or someone's name or (who knows what else). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malus