Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday, August 23, 2019, Evan Mahnken


Let's get the most important issue out of the way right up front. WILHELMSCREAM? Apparently, it's a stock sound effect used in hundreds of films and TV shows, especially for when a character is injured or falls a long distance. So I like to think it's on purpose that it's right below VICTORIAFALLS...

There are a ton of fun entries in the puzzle today, starting with 4D: Crime-fighting vehicle (BATMOBILE). I love how straight-faced the clue is. Even better is 11D: Carol king (WENCESLAS). Hah! VIRTUOSOS is excellent as well.

I have been in many "academic settings" and have yet to see a non-metaphoric IVORYTOWER. Was there ever actually one? Apparently not, only non-literal ones. I'm learning so much today!

I found myself in a bit of trouble when filling in 17A: "Glad I didn't have to deal with that!" I first used the pronoun "him," which seemed the most classic form of the phrase. Then I suddenly found myself thinking, why a male pronoun? Perhaps Mr. Mahnken would choose to buck the trend and insert a female one instead. In addition, ABmSE seemed incorrect. But of course ABrSE seemed just as unlikely. The correct answer suggested itself, and all genders were equally represented in BETTERYOUTHANME.

Outside of the wonderful long answers, there is more than a small amount of compromise in the fill. I don't hate the corner wtih TIANA, ELCID, and SETTE, despite the proper names and foreign languages called upon. And it's improved by the excellent clue for 55A: Rod and reel (UNIT).

On the other hand, BARB? This is an odd choice for 1A. I suppose the little twist of wire must in fact be called a barb, but nobody calls it that. And RETIP is just a no go for me. There are a few other examples, but I enjoyed the long answers enough to make up for them.

- Colum


  1. The WILHELMSCREAM, or often just "The Wilhelm," is a great answer. And aside from it apparently being a rare blind spot in your world knowledge, it's a pretty ubiquitous bit of movie trivia. I remember asking one of my kids about it, probably when he was around 12, and if he knew what it was. The response, I distinctly remember was, "of course." Anyway, it's more than just a stock sound effect used it hundreds of movies and tv episodes. It's a rather ridiculous sound effect that really belongs in no movie. But it's so over the top that, for decades, it's been a sound engineering industry challenge/game to see just what otherwise serious movies/scenes a sound pro can get away with using it in. It's so ridiculous a noise/scream that it often has to be masked, at least in part, by other sound effects. But then that's part of the challenge/game, too.

  2. 23:40
    WILHELMSCREAM was unknown to me until this puzzle, but BARB I dropped in from the clue, as I did a great deal of this puzzle. The SE, however, had me for a while because once I had the ___ANA of TIANA, I put in moANA and didn't look back until the two top crosses just would not work. I am unfamiliar with most newer Disney films. I was thinking MImES aren't that creepy-crawly, so that can't be right, and THENoLE is no place I'd heard of. Finally it came to me and all was well.

  3. 19:29

    I would argue that WILHELMSCREAM is far from ubiquitous. I am not a stranger to film history, and even took a college level film class, and I had never before heard of it until today. It's a Saturday entry if ever there were one.

    The SE corner took me at least five minutes. I'm with Huygens on TIANA. I had moANA in there for a while. And I do not like "Some creepy-crawlies" for MITES. SETTE, however, I can get behind. T minus three days until Italy! :)