Thursday, April 18, 2019

Thursday, April 18, 2019, Alex Eaton-Salners


It's been a long time since we've had a good "letters spell out a picture" type of puzzle. I am always incredibly impressed by the care and thought that go into the construction of a grid like today's. Coming up with an image that can be represented by connecting the dots in a 15 by 15 puzzle, and then those letters are fixed in place.

Today we get a spring-like image of a CATERPILLAR turning into a BUTTERFLY in a CHRYSALIS. It's all very lovely. On the other hand, it doesn't make for a great solve. Knowing that the letters are going to draw an image doesn't really enhance the process of filling in the puzzle. So the theme loses impact during the solving process, making only for a nice sort of nod at the end.

That being said, there are some nice clues, including the sort of thing I always fall for at 52D: Pay for play (RHYME). Arg! Once again, I had no idea until four of the five letters were filled in. Nearby is a similar sort of thing at 58D: Married couple? (ARS). Is that how we spell the letter? I guess so.

The pair of French bakery offerings (GATEAU and ECLAIR) were sweet. As it turns out, I awoke this morning from the middle of a dream where I was picking out really nice cookies from a bakery, so I was definitely in the mood for some fancy confections.

Some of the readers here will laugh at me for incorrectly putting in COStas at 28A: Sportscaster in the documentary "Telling It Like It Is" (COSELL). But in my defense, Bob Costas is a sportscaster, and was in several documentaries. In any case, it corrected pretty quickly.

In the area of entries to OVOIDAL at all costs? Very little. It's a smooth puzzle.

- Colum


  1. 13:13 (FWTE) (paper)

    I enjoyed this one all right, but the NW corner did me in. I had entered AVANTe pretty quickly, having forgotten too much Italian, and then when I hit 27A Lust, but not love, I hastily added an x to the "Se" that I already had. I should have noticed BONTOx, but, well, I didn't. Also, the clue works much better for SIN than it does for Sex. I'm sorry to have missed it.

    The rest was all pretty good. My favorite clue was probably "Same-sex union?" for FRAT. Mostly because I imagine that many good ol' FRAT boys would take exception to it. :)

  2. 17:14
    I love this type of puzzle - mostly because of the extreme awe of how does a construction like that even happen! Lots and lots of work! And, I now solve on the ipad app - it has a cute feature that drew out the butterfly for me - letter by letter!
    Ah, to be older - haha. Any way, Cosell was my first and only idea for a renowned sportscaster. Oh how we loved to hate him back in the day.
    Thanks for the Red Eagle picture.

  3. How can anybody hate Mr. Cosell?

    1. um - loud, rude and wouldn't shut up - but still admired!

  4. 11:26
    Well, Colum, if it's any consolation, I, too, first entered COstas and I'm older than you by enough to have lived through a much bigger chunk of COSELL's broadcasting career firsthand. I will say that COstas lasted mere seconds in my grid before my mid-coffee morning brain kicked in, but it was embarrassing nonetheless. Indeed, aside from the play-by-play duos for our local sports teams, Howard Cosell (well, and Jim McKay) was arguably the voice and sound of "sports" for my youth. So, the answer to the love-hate debate emerging above is "yes." Cosell was one of the first large prognosticating personas in sports, and he was so on purpose, pretty much forcing you to notice him. So yeah, I suspect he would have been fine with either love or hate.

  5. 38:53
    I entered COSELL off of the "C" since I, too, am a bit older. Surprising that Icarusfob didn't, but I'll accept his explanation. I went through most of the puzzle in around twenty minutes, but the NW slowed me down for the remainder. I'd never heard of the term BONTON, and having entered lettucE instead of CABBAGE didn't help matters much, nor did not having been much of a gamer back in the day making GAMEBOY slow to emerge. OVOIDAL, PANDEMIC, ETON and SIN helped, but not enough for a quick solve up there. I had a small slowdown at SALAAM, initially trying ShaloM, but that was quickly corrected by crosses, and GATEAU only filled in because of its crosses, as I'd never heard of one of those, either. PINKOES is funny fill. I found this puzzle to be a bit difficult for a Thursday, but I seen that none of the above people did.