Monday, March 23, 2020

Monday, March 23, 2020, Ed Sessa


"AHOUSEDIVIDED against itself cannot stand." So said ABE Lincoln, quoting, most likely, the Bible, where it appears twice in the gospels. (I looked that up.) And if you'd prefer something more secular, Thomas Hobbes used a very similar phrase in Leviathan. (I actually read that one for a class somewhat recently.)

Jesus was proving that he wasn't working with the Devil, Hobbes was explaining government, and Lincoln was talking about slavery. Today, Mr. Sessa's use of it is all about wordplay. The word "house" is literally divided in each theme answer, split into "ho" and "use," and between those two sides, letters are crammed in to create HOPELESSCAUSE, HOLDTHEAPPLAUSE, and HOWCOULDIREFUSE. It's fun to imagine these three also being associated with Lincoln - the first was what he heard from critics when he suggested that the U.S. could be preserved, the second was what he might have said after the Gettysburg Address, and the last when he was re-elected. Too much? Probably.


So anyway, today my "interesting entries" include the fun words SKIFF (Flat-bottomed boat) and HORDE (Teeming throng), the excellent QMCs "Sleep-inducing pill?" for BORE, and "What may descend before the moon?" for TROU. Hah! It's odd to see RAYKROC (Founder of the McDonald's empire) right in the middle of the grid without him having anything to do with the theme, but I guess that's fine. It probably would have been tough to squeeze in one more split house in that spot. "Hot fuse?" (Electrician's problem), "Hoop use?" (Hula-ing, e.g.), "Hop user?" (Brewmaster)... yeah, probably best that slot was left out of the theme...

I tried CHERe instead of CHERI at 40D Dear: Fr., and I still think "chère" is better. Sure, CHERI does mean "Dear," as in "Mon cheri," but it's odd to see it A. without the "mon" and B. in the masculine. Still... I get it. It was crammed in there, crossing two theme answers and I'm sure the options were limited. At least TETE (Head: Fr.) was straightforward.

Overall, a fun theme.

- Horace


  1. 7:05
    We have a boat that we refer to as a SKIFF, but it's probably a jon boat. I wouldn't have known those problems that Horace mentions regarding CHERI, and I don't know this Bob GRIESE person, but I am a McDonald's veteran and so have known of RAYKROC since I was sixteen. The trivia about UHURU is always a nice reminder, as we've seen that before but for some reason I don't always remember what it means. I will try to commit it to memory. Odd that HEATH and HEALTH are both in the grid.

  2. 3:33 (FWOE)
    I too entered CHERe and had to change it to CHERI prior to the end of the puzzle. I also had MInI instead of MINI, which will count as my error. Fun theme.

  3. So nice to see Colum and Horace and whoever else was at couchwords. I'm curious to see what if anything people cook up to replace the recently cancelled Indy 500.

    As for today's puzzle, quite fun. Not at all a HOPELESSCAUSE as I finished it fairly quickly. And although I do like the idea of "hot fuse" or "hoop use", I would imagine that even if it could be done, the fill would likely suffer. And the fill is quite good in this puzzle.

  4. Those 2 clues for 14A (sleep-inducing pill) and 65A (What may descend from the moon) were hysterical. I'm stealing them for a future puzzle construction and will look forward to more from Ed Sessa in the future.

  5. My fastest Monday in five weeks. Agree completely about the cluing for BORE, great stuff. Unlike Huygens, I put in GRIESE immediately, of course. Same with LALAW. Damn, I'm old. Enjoyed seeing HEATH, one of my favorite bars, and in the same puzzle as HEALTH-- I think it's a sign; I better go buy one soon. How about a Great Lakes theme one of the Mondays? Give some love to somebody besides ERIE. Maybe I should start work on such a puzzle . . .