Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, Kate Hawkins

I love a good down theme answer puzzle, when the revealer shows you why the constructor chose to put the puzzle in that orientation. It does occur to me though, that there are likely many many potential themes that would rely on the across orientation, which likely don't make it to print because it's the standard way crossword puzzles are built.

In any case, today, our revealer comes at 26D: "Get it together! ... or a hint to the highlighted letters (SHAPEUP). And indeed, in the circles you'll find various geometric shapes hidden if you read up, within the longer theme answers. Three of the four follow the expected rule of having the hidden words cross over the theme answer words, such as in MICHAELCRICHTON, where "circle" uses the last two letters of the first name and the first four letters of the last name. The fourth, FLAVOROFTHEWEEK, which hides "oval" in just the first word, is therefore nominally not as strong. And yet it's such a great phrase that I can easily overlook it.

Interesting that two of the shapes are two-dimensional, and two are three-dimensional. I suppose in my mind I think of shapes as being different from solids, the latter referring to 3D objects. But I think I'm RUMInating too much on the subject.


In other areas, I love the phrase HOTSECOND. Does it go along with aforementioned flavor of the week? 

My favorite clue came at 67A: Is the pope Catholic? (YES). Not in fact a QMC, here. Just a straight up question. I'm not sure I've ever come across such a thing before. But it made me laugh out loud.

I also liked 57A: Where Boxing Day comes before Christmas, in brief? (OED). Way to spice up an acronym. Sadly, the same can't be said for RFID.

Anyway, the reorientation mixes up the HUMDRUM run of standard crossword puzzles (far from humdrum, in fact, but you get the idea), and is welcome. Nice puzzle!

- Colum


  1. Fun and yet another inventive theme! I liked 57A too, except I put DIC in instead of OED and that caused a nasty and time-consuming ripple effect. RUMI and HOTSECOND were new ones to me.

    Would have been cool if the setter had managed to squeeze TESSERACT in there (suitable containing phrase not jumping out at me, ha ha) - to cover a fourth dimension as well! 5:53 for me, which seemed about right.

  2. I'm with Colum regarding the word "shape" not strictly describing solids, but I, too, can overlook it since the puzzle is math-based, which is always welcome. And since we've hit three dimensions, a fourth would have been welcome, as Philbo suggests, as well as one and zero. I had to really search back into the rarely-used knowledge for RUMI; as they say, USEIT or lose it. Shout out to SEAGLASS collectors! 10:09 for me.

  3. An old work colleague turned me on to RUMI many years ago, and I still pull his collected works off the shelf from time to time. He's popular for a reason. :)

    I thought the duplication in SHUTUP and SHAPEUP was a tad unfortunate, but what are you going to do?

    Oh, and thanks for mentioning the "Is the Pope Catholic?" clue. I filled that in with Downs and never really noticed it. It's hilarious!