Thursday, January 3, 2019

Thursday, January 3, 2019, Timothy Polin

8:53 (FWOE)

Today's grid is split into two half-puzzles by a wall down the middle, which creates the theme answers at 19A/20A, 35A/37A, and 50A/52A. I figured out the theme in the middle, with WOLFOF / [WALL] / STREET. Initially I thought about WOLFOF / wallsT, which is not at all the name of the movie, but then got it right shortly thereafter.

19A: With 20-Across, pattern in back of a window (DESKTOP / [WALL] / PAPER) was challenging. It took me a while to realize that we were talking about computers. STONE / [WALL] / JACKSON was well-known to me from my years of obsessing over the Civil War. I recommend Shelby Foote's three volume history if you want to take a deep dive.

So is it enough? It's a small amount of theme material, unless you count the 15 squares of black down the center as theme. On the other hand, the two halves of puzzle are wide open, with a lot of excellent fill, including SOFTSPOKEN and SPELUNKING. 15A: Author known for the intelligence of his writing? (LECARRE) is an amazing twisty clue, just like the novels referred to.
I had difficulty in the NE due to the tricky plural of 8A: Followers of the Baal Shem Tov (HASIDIM). I had tried HASsids, but that was clearly problematic because I couldn't come up with 14D: "Scrumptious!" (MMM) when starting with an S. Also tricky is 25D: May and others (PMS), referring to the British Prime Minister Theresa May.

My error came at 38D: Lightweight boxer? (PUP). I convinced myself that PUg would work here - that somehow, a pug was just a very small boxer. Ignoring of course that gEN could never work as the answer for 45A: Boardom? (PEN). Ah well.

I think overall I liked it, even if it had fewer Aha! moments than a typical Thursday.

- Colum


  1. 12:46 (FWTE)
    I got the PMS part, but I wanted yuM at 14D for a long time, but it didn't work at all with HASIDIM, for which I tried all manner of incorrect endings. I take it -IM is a plural in Hebrew? Anyway, I eventually got MMM, but had something-something-A for IRA. It totally makes sense now, but I just couldn't place the Good Friday Agreement properly...

    Anyway, I liked the theme, and also broke into it with the middle one. I don't know, I think it's probably enough. Kind of fun, really.

  2. DNF
    LECARRE and ERNO were unknown to me, and I didn't know the crosses GLIDED (I tried GuIDED or ICENINE (I tried ICENIcE), then I tried a couple of other things, and that's too much trying and too many errors, so DNF. The rest went in very quickly (under 20 minutes). I, like Colum, tried WOLFOF/wallsT before soon changing it and getting the theme as I filled in some crosses. A nice Thursday, except for that NW corner. I do not enjoy foreign language clues.