Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sunday, November 25, 2018, Joon Pahk


I am thankful, at the end of this Thanksgiving weekend, for having been reminded all week by Colum that there are plenty of things to be thankful for. Even while SEALEVEL rises and rhetoric sinks, we can find things to keep our spirits on an even keel. One of which, cited on Wednesday, the very raison d'ĂȘtre of this blog, is the NYT crossword, which today made me smile yet again.

Today's puzzle is just what a big Sunday grid ought to be. It's got a word-game like title that perfectly describes its theme, and that theme is executed beautifully with examples found in both Across and Down answers. By the addition of a final, silent E, common phrases are made to answer contrived clues, and I'm pretty sure that every single one of them made me smile. Well, all except maybe BYEALLRIGHTS (38A: What you're effectively saying when you sign a waiver?), because while this is a nice warning to those who do not read what they are signing, not all contracts need be agreed to as is. Negotiate, people! And walk away when the terms are not just. Mini-TIRADE over.

The rest of them, beginning right away with ASTARISBORNE (23A: Photo caption for the winning team's M.V.P. being carried off the field?) and ending with CASTELOTS (81D: Places for specific social classes to park?) were absurdly amusing. My favorite might actually be the straightforward and short SEMIPROSE (67A: Piece of writing that's half in verse?). It's funny because it's true!

In addition to the amusing and satisfying theme, the fill had lots to like as well. ATHEEL (65D: Following close behind), SCRAPE (42D: Minor altercation), APOLOGIA (22A: Formal defense), and UMPTEEN (70D: Scads of) were all unusual and fun. And the clues for MISSPELL (25A: Get an F in physics?) and EAST (83D: Heading in the right direction?) were excellent, despite the "north on top" bias displayed in that last one.

This is what I consider a BESTCASE Sunday crossword. It provides a LETHEAN ESCAPE from the daily BANE of CBSNEWS. The Romans were right: We need such bread and circuses, and for them, I am thankful.

- Horace


  1. OK, I call foul. I finished with one error, except not really. Yes, I was pretty sure that Brian Eno worked with David Bowie. But more sure, was I, that Tirana is the capital of Albania (one of two world capitals, incidentally, that includes the name of *another* country within its English spelling. The other, if you're curious, is Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago. Gaborone, the capital of Botswana comes very close to Gabon, but not quite.) that I left it as such. Google it, what do you get? Tirana, capital of Albania. Google "Tirane," what do you get? You get "Did you mean: Tirana" with the first entry still as the wikipedia post for Tirana, capital of Albania. OK, eventually you can learn that the Albanian spelling for Tirana is Tirane with an umlaut over the e. But nowhere do I find Tirane recognized as an English alternative to Tirana. OK, it's fair game to have foreign spellings in a puzzle, but then, wouldn't there, shouldn't there be a clue in the clue that matches the syntax? Whoa, it could be hidden, of course, like for "Capital of Cuba" the answer could be HABANA, because Spanish for "capital" is "capital." But that doesn't work for Albanian. Google translate says it would be Kapital. So "Kapital of Albania" would be Tirane. Any dissenters?

    1. Eh. I too expected Tirana, but had no doubt in my mind that it had to be ENO, so accepted there must be another spelling of the capital.