Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Wednesday, May 8, 2019, Stu Ockman


I've always loved PING / PONG, also known as TABLETENNIS, and today we get a puzzle whose theme is grid art about the game. We're looking at the table from the side, with the NET right in the middle, while one competitor hits a BACKSPINSERVE from the left (I assume). Me, I usually go for topspin on my serves, but it's good to change things up once in a while.

I am impressed by how well Mr. Ockman works those triple-checked letters into the grid. Certainly MARMS and EEE are not the greatest, but IMPINGE is excellent. It's also not a very theme dense puzzle (c.f. Monday and Tuesday blogs for the ongoing debate), which leaves the south half of the grid pretty wide open.

Three very nice NQM clues today are 24A: They're nuts for dessert (PECANS), 21D: It might be a blot on your record (INK), and 50A: Unidentified date (PLUSONE). All are actually precise definitions, just twisted by the syntax of the clue. Meanwhile, the only QM clue I really liked today was at 1A: Arm twister? (ULNA). To me, that could have been a NQM candidate as well.

Some might find 34A: Rosalinde's maid in Strauss's "Die Fledermaus" (ADELE) to be esoterica. NOTI! I have a deep fondness for that operetta, and the overture is just a confection of great music.

And finally, a tip of the hat to ELSTON Howard, who broke the race barrier on the New York Yankees. True, it came 8 years after Jackie Robinson first played for the Dodgers. At the same time, the Red Sox didn't break that barrier for another 4 years.

- Colum


  1. 9:13
    I'd also generally go for a top spin. I was just listening to "Die Fledermaus" the other afternoon on the way home from work (at least 50 minutes of it, or so), but needed the crosses for ADELE since I'm not particularly familiar with it. I was glad, however, to have a clue for that crosswordese that didn't have to do with the singer, for a change. Lots of names in here: ROXIE, MAMET, ICET, ATARI, ADELE, FIENNES, ANATOLE, ULAN, ELSTON, STYNE, MEMOREX, TIEGS. Some good stuff, though, like ALIENATED, LEAVEBE, BORON and NEWSCAST, but I don't know about BUSMAN, and no one likes to be SOBERER.

  2. 9:05 (paper)

    I love a backspin serve, and I kind of wanted to see the effect in the circled letters - but it would have been hard to show it slowing down and appearing to go backwards...

    I wonder if Mr. Shortz green-lighted this one immediately because he is such a big ping-pong fan. I think he is currently attempting to, or has already, broken the record for consecutive days playing the game. I should look that up somewhere, but I don't have the time right now.

    Was really hoping for a TIEGS photo...