Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Wednesday, September 2, 2020, Margaret Seikel


A second debut in one week! Welcome, Ms. Seikel, to the venerable ranks of published NYT crossword constructors.

Sometimes in writing these reviews, I find myself wondering how I'm going to be able to explain in writing what the theme is getting at. And I would venture to guess that the vast majority of those times come on a Wednesday, the odd bird of the week's puzzles.

So let's get to it, shall we?

See, what Ms. Seikel has wrought is a set of theme answers whose last word is a synonym for throw, in each case nicely disguised with a different meaning. Then, the revealer refers to the opposite of throwing, namely catching. Which leads to the pretty tortured clue at 60A: Popular expression ... or what the opposite of the answer to each starred clue is? (CATCHPHRASE).

Fortunately, each of the theme answers is strong in its own right! I particularly like ELEVATORPITCH, especially as it is situated in the center down column, giving a sort of visual reference to the direction a person would be traveling as they make said spiel. I initially was down on 16A: *Something reminisced about in the movie "Grease" (SUMMERFLING). I wanted the title of the song in question, "Summer Lovin'," but now I can see that the actual answer is perfectly cromulent.

NEBULA award

Now, I don't want to be a WET blanket... um, I mean DISHRAG, but starting off the grid with three abbreviations in a row at 1D, 2D, and 3D did not inspire a lot of confidence. Also, SOPHS and ZAS are a tough go. 41A: Units of laughter? (HAS) scrapes by on the odd choice of clue.

But let's look at the brighter side, shall we? My favorite C/AP, and maybe one of the best in recent memory, in my opinion, comes at 27A: Space force, informally (ZEROG). That is brilliant. I love a good non-QMC. Also, the family here very much enjoyed OZARK, especially Laura Linney as Wendy Byrde. So much so that our family group chat is currently named after her.

So perhaps it didn't hit on all cycles for me, but it was a fun Wednesday in the end.

- Colum


  1. 7:11
    I liked seeing BRENNERPASS, because Frannie and I were within spittin' distance of it just this past February. Sigh. Remember February?

    Also, Frannie's library has quite a bit of ALICEPAUL's materials, and a lot of it went through the digitization department, which is where I work. So that hit home, as it were.

    And finally, are the Chamomile tea and yogurt supposed to be combined? Or is it just two possible separate REMEDIES?

  2. 17:14
    I thought that this ran a little harder than a usual Wednesday. I actually entered SUMMERlovin where SUMMERFLING belongs, but I quickly corrected it with the crosses. I didn't know what was going on until the revealer. I wanted WET/noodles instead of WET/DISHRAG, but crosses fixed that up, too. Michelle YEOH is great in "Discovery." I look forward to the next season in mid-October. And OZARK is on my list of shows to watch; I enjoyed Bateman in "Arrested Development."