Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sunday, May 3, 2020, Brendan Emmett Quigley and Ben Zimmer


"It does what it says on the tin," as the old saying goes. Or, to be slightly more clear, the title of the puzzle demonstrates the change from A to OU that will happen in all theme entries, by taking the familiar phrase "Shifting Sands" and changing it to the explanatory "Shifting Sounds." Each new creation is then clued in a wacky way. Some, as usual, work better than others. I was amused by COUNCELEDCHECK (Advised a chess player to attack the king?), for instance, but TROUNCESTATE (Decisively defeat a cabinet department?) seemed a bit of a stretch.

If you've got time, you might enjoy reading this Ian Frazier piece.
I have a question, though, about 29A: "Game of Thrones" patriarch has difficulties?" (NEDFLOUNDERS). Is there really a character on that show named Ned Flanders? Because the only Ned Flanders I know is Homer Simpson's neighbor.

"Places to exchange dollars for quarters" was a cute clue for INNS, as was "Make an engaging offer?" for PROPOSE, and I laughed out loud when I finally got HIMBO (Attractive, but vacuous guy, in slang). And speaking of laughing, I can't hear the name "Mary, Queen of Scots" without thinking of "The Death of Mary, Queen of Scots" by Monty Python. I'm not sure it's historically accurate, but from listening to that ridiculous skit I did learn that she was executed.

I've never heard the term SOCKO for "Smashing," and ABOIL seems not only esoteric, but also more specific than just "Bubbling," but it's best to ENURE oneself to the occasional unpleasant entry, and focus instead on the humorous and interesting bits. Who knew MAGPIES could recognize themselves in mirrors, for example?

- Horace


  1. Fun concept, well worked out. There is no Ned Flanders on GoT, but there was a character Ned, who for the purposes of the wacky answer as transformed by the A to OU, has difficulties. Well, he had many difficulties in the show as well. With respect to Mary, Queen of Scots, her execution was infamously botched, taking several strikes to kill her with the axe. Thus the darkness of the humor of the Monty Python skit.

  2. And more directly, Horace, the transformation to which Colum alludes really has to begin with an homage to The Simpsons, doesn't it? That is, Ned Flanders is so widely known in popular cultural as to make such a transformation fair game in a puzzle. That I had no second thoughts or confusion about his reference during the solve, AND I have watched far less of The Simpsons than you, seems to bare that out.

  3. MOUSE MARKETING especially cracked me up. But here's my question: if MAGPIES are "one of the few non-mammal species able to recognize themselves in a mirror" (I looked it up) then why do non-magpie bird cages always have mirrors?

  4. 24:13
    Amusing theme, but as Horace mentions, some of the results are a bit of a stretch. Nice trivia INRE HEYJOE and MAGPIES, and were it not for HIMBO, I'd have had difficulty with the LLB cross, where I wanted a "d." FUZZYMOUTH was pretty funny, as it refers back to math, always welcome in my book. Mmmmm...WASABI.

  5. MOUSEMARKETING wasn't too bad once I figured out the first word was supposed to be modified "mass" as opposed to "maze" or "mase" (that's what a maser does, right?) or something else.

    FUnnYMOUTH didn't work at all with the crosses, but I did catch up on that eventually. Was stuck at the end on AL? crossing R?SD (or as I was tempted to transcribe it, AL[WTF] crossing R]WTF]SD), so I ran the alphabet on that one, waiting for the completion bell.