Monday, July 29, 2019

Monday, July 29, 2019, Bruce Haight


I'd say today's puzzle is pretty much how you want a Monday puzzle to be. It's a fun theme with a surprise revealer, and smooth fill for the most part. I only regret that Dr. Haight's great sense of humor has less leeway on a Monday because the clues have to be relatively straightforward. We do see some of it in clues like 57A: "____ your piehole!" (SHUT).

So the revealer is ONTHEBENCH. I feel doubly bad for our constructor that Mr. Charlson's excellent Friday puzzle of this past week played the same game with the clue "Their players are often benched," leading to the answer "pianos." Today, we instead get 48A: Herbie Hancock or Chick Corea (JAZZPIANIST). That's certainly the jazziest of the theme answers, on several levels!

But there are also several snazzy answers in the fill, including 7D: Boat you might shoot rapids in (KAYAK), and 40D: Leave at the altar (JILT), which always reminds me of Anthony Trollope, and his frequent admonishment of "There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip." Of course, the right people almost always do end up together in his novels. But not always...

WEREINLUCK makes good use of a long down answer with a fun colloquial answer. We really need a better name for these sorts of uttered phrases which are so much more common nowadays in the NYT puzzle. Any takers?

There were a few answers I was NUTSO KEEN on, including OSSA and ICARE ("Words of empathy"? I feel like if I said that to somebody they'd look for the easiest way to exit the room). But on the whole, we'll give this puzzle a nice thumbs up.

- Colum


  1. 6:43
    Blistering time, Colum. Yes, this was a good one. All of the theme answers are positive except for the BALLPLAYER, who'd rather be playing. Although, depending on which side you're on, the TRIALCOURTJUDGE could be negative in certain circumstances, too, none of which, I'm happy to report, involved me as yet. EELS reminds me of the disturbing song on the show "The Mighty Boosh." Perhaps you'd all like to watch that. Funny that REIN appears above TERRE, as in "REIN of TERRE." That's correct, no?

    1. I forgot to mention GETBUSY as potential blue fill.

  2. Hmm, agree on OSSA. When I read the clue I ran away from that one with both feet and I apparently got every letter from crosses because I got the little completion box without thinking about it again.

  3. 5-paper

    I've seen a few clips of that EELS video in a documentary about the Boosh that we watched on Amazon Prime, when we had it, but I've never seen the whole thing.

    I'm surprised PARKVISITOR didn't get tagged with an "ad hoc" label in the review... and I don't know what to call the colloquial fill. I think I've used "spoken word answer" in the past, or something like that, but that's not really any better. Probably worse, actually. I'll keep thinking.