Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sunday, October 20, 2019, Natan Last


I was a sad child: we never owned OPERATION. But my friends did, and I remember the awful feeling you'd get from making the red nose light up and the buzzing noise erupt. Today we get an homage to the old game, with an amusing red circle in the middle of the "face" to symbolize that nose. The rest of the theme are answers that contain body parts hidden (but made clear by the circles), but are clued as if those body parts have been removed.

I love the way the theme has been realized, especially because the body parts are arranged to be close to where they would be on the game board. Which makes the entire grid equivalent to a body. To me it looks maybe a little more like an anthropomorphic robot, but perhaps I'm being a little picky. After all, it has to fit in a 21 x 21 square.

It took me a little while to figure out the trick. I recognized something was up when I saw 26A: Melt down, as fat (R[EAR]ENDER). There could be only one answer to that - after all, last night I made a beef stew from Julia Child (it wasn't boeuf bourguignon - no mushrooms and pearl onions). Okay, so I didn't actually render anything, but I did deglaze the saucepan with wine. The sauce was really delicious.

Um... where was I?

Oh, right. I was also confused by having put "rink" in for 31A: Ice skating spot (POND). But DEADPOOL soon set everything to rights (as he so often does), and the crossings made it clear what was going on. I liked all of the theme answers save one: 10D: Karaoke selection (S[HAND]ONG) - the final answer left me scratching my head. Turns out it's a province of China. Otherwise, my favorite is probably 68D: Outhouses (PRIVI[LEG]ES). Very nice.

The rest of the puzzle is solid. I was impressed by having YTTRIUM show up, and I remember reading TAMORA Pierce's fantasy novels for young adults some years back. Turns out she lives in upstate New York. I also liked the clue for 50A: One frequently saying "Sorry, I missed that" (SIRI). Hah! GOODONE.

- Colum


  1. 35:54
    Yes, nice puzzle, indeed. I had OPERATION as a child, and was pretty good at it. YTTRIUM was one of my favorite answers, and I wrote it in off of the "Y." I assumed that S[HAND]ONG was something to do with China. I take issue only with SKELETONKEY, which probably wouldn't open too many doors any longer, but at least it's under CAVEMAN, for whom it probably would have.

  2. nobody has a problem with "shag" for F. Fawcett's hairdo? It is NOT a shag cut.