Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tuesday, November 12, 2019, Gabrielle Friedman and Jakob Weisblat


With regards to our widespread readership (might I even hazard "global?"), I was amused by Horace's comment yesterday that he mostly thinks of myself and our other stalwart commenter, Huygens. I, too, think predominantly of Horace and Frances when I write. I also think of the crossword constructors, fondly for their efforts to keep me entertained, and with awe when a puzzle is particularly well crafted.

Today's puzzle is a double debut for Ms. Friedman and Mr. Weisblat, and so I send a happy AHOY to them. It's always nice to have new names and faces at the top of my iPad. Their offering takes the well known 'N'Sync hit BYEBYEBYE (honestly, I barely know it at all, but I'm sure I'd recognize it if it came on my radio, just before I switch to another station...), and uses it as a revealer for three other phrases which start with the sound "bye" but spelled differently.

All three theme answers are solid, particularly BICURIOUS. In addition, our intrepid constructors work in some nice long answers, particularly PHILOMENA, an outstanding and very moving movie starring the ubiquitous Dame Judi Dench. I also liked 10D: Things to keep on hand to prevent burns? (OVENMITTS).

Does RABBI count as bonus theme material?

I am less enthused by NOTAR and the very odd NOTPASS. Seems a stretch, as does LOOTBAG. Is this a meaningful phrase? Moneybags, certainly. Meanwhile, there's a bit too much DII ELIS SSNS and the atypical singular TONG for my taste. But overall, it's a solid effort, and I'd hate to discourage anyone from continuing to work at this form of entertainment that I do every day.

- Colum


  1. TREND was nice (wanted some synonym of "medical condition" at first), as was DOGTAGS (bonus belated Veteran's Day material?)

  2. 7:17
    We start and end with fauna (ASPS and DEER); too bad that the former couldn't have been the latter since it would have been adjacent to NILE, but I'll take it. I thought it a fine Tuesday and debut, but I'll agree with Colum's call-outs. I'll also agree that all of the theme answers are strong, and that the revealer itself is unknown to discerning individuals, and would be switched off almost immediately. I'll add to Mr. Kingdon's belated Veterans Day material with ENLISTEE, perhaps.

  3. We know we are in trouble if I'm the hip and au courant one, for thinking that "bye, bye, bye" is a commonly known song and how could anyone not be familiar with it?

    If the question is merely whether to attempt to avoid said song, not whether the song is familiar, well I suppose I'll also take the hip and trendy position rather than the curmudgeonly one. I'll even go out on a limb and call it "catchy".

  4. 5:45

    Yeah... I know the song. I don't own it, but it's a harmless pop song. Would I go so far as to turn it off?... well... hard to say, as the only time that I can imagine it coming into earshot is when someone else is in control of the sound system. So I'd probably just make the best of it.

    I always enjoy this type of puzzle that plays with spelling and sound. Nice debut.