Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sunday, January 10, 2021, Alex Bajcz


Greetings, Dear Reader. Horace here, taking the baton from Colum after two weeks of lovely reviews from him and Frannie. 

As for me, well, I've been better.

AMELIA Earhart

Let's start with some things I liked about this puzzle. The clue "Makes Don nod?" (REVERSES) was interesting, because it was an example of the rare "false capital." There's no real reason to make "don" into a name, except to trick us. 

I enjoyed the trivia in "It's been performed more than 1,000 times at the Met" (AIDA), and in another music-related answer, SANPEDRO (Los Angeles port district) made me smile as it reminded me of the song "Hot Rod Lincoln."

Now let's get to things I didn't like. RIOT and ARMEDGUARD, BADOMEN, ALARMS, RELOAD, RETRIBUTION. These things EVOKE HARD to swallow recent events. Not the constructor's fault, I know.

And I'm sure it's just my mood making me overly critical, but "Least spicy" doesn't necessarily mean BLANDEST. There are lots of flavors and sensations that are far from bland and far from spicy at the same time. But I know, I know, if it can work, it's fair game... 

As for the theme - blocks of four letters that repeat in such common expressions as ALUMINUMINGOT and BAHAMAMAMAMIX, well ... my jaw won't be THUDDING onto the table over that one.

Add to my foul mood a fistful of NEB, OREG, ARI, SSR, ALGA, LINEA, AERI, RUR, and the seemingly arbitrary AMONRA (didn't we just have "Amen Ra" a few days ago?), and I'm sorry to say, I didn't think it was TERRIF.

Here's hoping you enjoyed it more than I did, and that I snap out of this funk by tomorrow. 

- Horace


  1. I enjoyed it just fine, although with this type of puzzle, once one gets the first bunch of circled letters, one can more easily fill in the other sets. This can make the solve a bit faster than it would otherwise be. I never heard of this Joel MCHALE fellow, nor do I know ARTURO Schomburg, but the other names were more familiar to me, even KINGKAMEHAMEHA, although for the proper spelling of that one I relied on the circled letters. Nice to see ELISE in there, but don't we know that she was his physician's daughter? I thought I'd read that somewhere, perhaps on my copy of the sheet music. But maybe recent scholarship REVERSES that conclusion. I wonder why a BIDET means "small horse," though. Seems strange. 24:13

  2. I think I read that the name for BIDET came from the impression that you were sitting astride a pony when you were on one of the traditional European models.

  3. FWOE

    Liked it fine, but I think I'm signing off on trying to "speed solve" themed NYT puzzles. Why? Because in my haste, I completely missed the theme until after I filled in all the spaces! Plus my error was -- of all things -- misspelling ERMA way up there in the NW because I didn't bother to read the clue! After finishing it, I stared at it for awhile, read the title, and got some delayed appreciation. No, I don't think speed solving is for me unless I learn how to do it properly.


    Oh, here's what I found in the dictionary under BIDET:

    mid 17th cent. (in the sense ‘horse’): from French, literally ‘pony,’ from bider ‘to trot,’ of unknown origin.