Saturday, August 1, 2020

Saturday, August 1, 2020, Adam Aaronson and Paolo Pasco


Back when this blog began (over seven years ago!, as Colum recently noted), I was not a big fan of a stunt puzzle. Then, about halfway into the run, I had my mind changed by constructor Bruce Haight, who told me, basically, to lighten up. And I did, I think. I tried to understand the challenge that the constructor took on, and to appreciate the result. And it mostly worked. But this week I again found myself focussing on the diminished solving experience.


On Thursday, the tediousness of the cross-referenced answer was repeated Ad NAUSEAM, and today, the very first clue is a spelling test (KRZYZEWSKI ("Coach K" of N.C.A.A. men's basketball fame)). Now, I get that names should be spelled correctly. If you know me, you know that my last name (my real last name, not this false one that I have inexplicably adopted for blogging) is almost always spelled wrong, and it always annoys me. So anyway, I've heard of this Coach K character, I can even picture him, and if I were going to write him a letter I'd be sure to double check the spelling of his last name. But it's not something that I have committed to memory and it's not something that I consider a particularly interesting crossword answer.

So that put me in a SNIP (and, really, it could have been that I was already in one after the very loud "sawing through a metal lamp post with a rusty buzz saw" noise that emanated from the nearby Town Yard at just before 6am this morning, or, possibly, the neighbor who burst out his front door spewing profanities just after that ...) and it was almost as though I went through the rest of the puzzle looking for things to complain about. "Why is it 'apt' that there should have been a RAINDELAY in the Cubs' world series game?" I grumbled. Who cares?! "Oh, sure, 'Stole something?' is cute for FUR, but still, FUR is murder!" "Why do they think that a TOGA is any more difficult to sculpt than hair, facial features, or the underlying musculature of the human form?" "Oh, and now they're going back to Watergate?!..." I was a regular Rex Parker!

By the time I got to the end, and saw they had made a mini-theme of words starting with K that are spelled similarly in an unusual-for-Americans way, it was too late for me to appreciate the stunt.

Sure, NECROMANCY (Dead reckoning?) was good, and "Spit take, perhaps?" is a great clue for DNASAMPLE ... I liked SALT (Put (away)) ... and I didn't realize Joan BAEZ was pregnant at Woodstock ... and I found it interesting that Igiveup has the same number of letters as IRESIGN (Words from a quitter) ... but is resigning really the same as quitting? Oh, probably it is. I should just stop this review right now.

- Horace


  1. 8:34
    Okay, Mr. Crankypants. I loved this puzzle so much. Sure, KRZYZEWSKI is an insane thing to spell, but the crosses were all completely fair, and you get such ZANY words as REDUX, KNIFE, and WACKOS. How about the non-QMC "Facial joint" for SPA? Hah!

    Great reference to Mahler's NINTH. SCUSEME is fun. I loved NECROMANCY, and then to find KYRGYZSTAN (which I do know how to spell off the top of my head, thanks to Sporcle geography quizzes) was such a delight.

    I love PLAYWITHINAPLAY, and 31D: Spit take? (DNASAMPLE) and RAINDELAY are excellent answers.

    I found very little to dislike in this one. Which just goes to show. A good night's sleep goes a long way to a good review.

  2. 15:43
    Yeah, lighten up, Horace. I actually thought that sussing out the spelling of KRZYZEWSKI was a surprisingly appropriate twist for a Saturday. Heck, it's a name that most culturally aware people would know and probably few could spell right off. But like Colum says, all the crosses were accessible. So, you put in the K and the I at the end and hold a bunch of Zs and Ys in your head as you're looking at the downs.

    Matter of fact, I agree with Colum on many things here: NINTH was a gimme (although, Colum, did you also overthink and note that teNTH would fit if you called "Der Lied Von Erde" a symphonic work - didn't want to write a "Ninth" because of the Beethoven superstition thing?? - thus making his Ninth really his Tenth and the unfinished the Eleventh?). And SCUSEME was indeed a visual oddity in the grid. And yeah, Horace, no love for Shakespeare?

    The RAINDELAY would be "apt" because it'd been such a long wait anyway...

    And, yeah, Colum: Sporcle. Me too.

  3. Gee, I hate to pile it on, Horace, but, yeah...what Colum and Icarusfob said. :-) This puzzle was a pleasure to solve! And the clue for RAIN DELAY is spectacular -- it was "apt" because o' the Cubs' century+ long "drought," LOLOL!

    Really, really, love this blog!

    1. Aww, that's nice of you to say - and even on a day when the reviewer is just being an old crank! Thanks. :)

  4. 26:43
    I thought this was a pretty fun puzzle, too. Monopoly reference, Shakespeare reference, sushi reference, Mahler (I thought of that, Icarus, but NINTH went right in regardless), HAYDN, METEOR; lots of great stuff in here.