Saturday, October 17, 2020

Saturday, October 17, 2020, Victor Barocas and Brad Wilber


"Don't go changing, to try to please me," sang good ol' Billy Joel. And in the end, is that not good advice for all of us? Learning to be comfortable with who you are and what you bring to the table is the first step in being happy with yourself. Here endeth the lesson.

For the second day in a row, our themeless has a kind of theme. Upon opening the grid, you can't help but notice the five large collections of black squares in the middle. Turns out one of these can be called a QUINCUNX. Another example is the arrangement of five pips on one side of a six-sided die, or on a playing card.

Or you could just call it a PLUSSIGN.

It's a nice added layer to the puzzle, which otherwise plays like a standard themeless, with large chunky corners, but a surprising number of 3-letter answers - twelve, to be exact. If I were to separate these last into different categories, I'd do as follows:

Crosswordese: EDT, ENE, NIH.

Challenging due to needed trivia or foreign language knowledge: CRI, AES, ANA, ADAFES (alternate spelling).

Standard level stuff: RAT, SAW

Saved by their clever clues: 47A: Overseer of millions at work, perhaps (CFO - that's millions of dollars), and 56D: Something to shoot for (PAR).

ANNA Chlumsky

My favorite C/AP is also one of the tentpole answers, at 12D: Whence a memorable emperor's fall (RETURNOFTHEJEDI). I was thinking Nero, or Caligula. I might have been thrown off by ETTU nearby. But instead we're actually referencing when the emperor got thrown over the edge of the balcony into one of those inexplicable 200-story pits the Death Star routinely has built into it.

Lastly, I'll reference a series of French bandes dessinées (what we'd call graphic novels nowadays) about an evil Grand Vizier to the Great Caliph, who interminably plots to kill him in order to become the Caliph in his place, but always gets hoisted by his own petard. His name was Iznogoud, and amusingly the currency they used in this legendary land was a CLAFOUTI.

Well, that's it for me this week. Tomorrow starts another Horace week.

- Colum


  1. 27:34 (FWOE)
    Well I flubbed at QUINCUNX/CRI, where I entered a "t." I also was thinking of the emperors mentioned by Colum above, and was pleasantly surprised with RETURNOFTHEJEDI. I didn't know of the CLEMSON/TIGERS, but I've heard of CLEMSON, and TIGERS was apparent after a couple of crosses. IDONTLIKETOBRAG, but I was able to get all of the tricky answers except for the spot where I erred, but that's a Natick, no? SPITTAKE was funny, and rarely seen nowadays. I entered HATFIELD off of the clue, but I wonder how many of the younger set know of that famous feud. And I must admit that I briefly thought of Bones, but rejected that idea quickly. Nice puzzle, and under 30 minutes works for me.

  2. 17:58

    CRI is known to French speakers, and I feel lucky to be one, because QUINCUNX is new to me! But boy, it took me a long while to finally think of that feud and enter HATFIELD! What a fun clue.

    The top went along quite quickly for me, and I thought for a while that I'd be posting a Colum-like time, but things slowed down considerably in the South, as they tend to do. NAHUATL wasn't exactly on the tip of my tongue, and although I know how to yell in French, I am not sure I've ever seen CLAFOUTI on the menu while dining over there. I guess I'll have to be on the lookout for it next time!