Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Wednesday, July 21, 2021, Alex Vratsanos

An homage to the letter Z today. We've got four grid-spanners with two Zs in each, and there are two un-checked Zs in the corners of a large "grid art" Z in the middle. And outside of those ten, no more anywhere else. Not that there are normally a lot of Zs in a puzzle, but I do appreciate the tightness of the theme. It's also nice that the double-Zs in the 15s are in opposite ends of the entries, and that taken as a group, all of the Zs in the puzzle form another very large Z. It's really quite a nice feat of construction.


As with any stunt puzzle, there will be concessions made in service to the stunt. Today there was a certain UGH factor to ORANGELOS, TERAOHM, RETEE, and MNEMONIZE. And even ONVIDEO seems, today, as old as OZZIEANDHARRIET

But if Bruce Haight has taught me anything, it's that there are times when stunts are worth pulling, and costs are worth paying. The theme today is lovely to see, and the ticket price is MNEMONIZE and TERAOHM. Pay up.

If it were just that, it would just be a stunt puzzle, but today there is a lot more enjoyment to be found in the non-theme material. Many clues showed a playful mind, like "Overhead cost of manufacturing?" (SMOG), "Give a pointer?" (POKE), "It costs about twice as much if it's round" (TRIP), and "Nest protest" (PEEP). 

SEABREEZE and SWATHE are both lovely answers, and ORCA (Animal whose name consists of the postal codes of two states it passes in its migration) loudly screams "this is what the mind of a crossword constructor looks like!" And speaking of different minds, the quote "The only difference between me and the Surrealists is that I am a Surrealist" (DALI) makes me happy that Dalí existed. And that he dared to be himself and do his own thing. Likewise, I'm glad Mr. Vratsanos dared to attempt this grid. Now you do it too. Dare to go out and be yourself and do what it is you are here to do. Life is short. Pull your stunts while you can before it's time for the eternal rest of Zs.

- Horace


  1. I feel a great deal of resistance toward TERAOHM. and ORANGELOS. and MNEMONIZE for that matter. They added a whiff of forced-ness to an otherwise clever + fun grid. Flub o' the day: SHAQ instead of KOBE in the very first clue! #headSlap However, 4:38 - a fairly speedy Wednesday, for me anyhow.

    Thanks for an elegant and thoughtful review, Horace!!

  2. I enjoyed the puzzle after I read your review, Horace. Like Philbo, I stupidly had SHAQ where KOBE belonged, but that got fixed quickly enough. My problem is -- if it is a problem -- I didn't get the theme until I came here. Oddly, I thought it had something to do with ORCA, don't ask me why. Like a ninny, I kept checking the two unchecked Zs to see if they had anything to do with Oregon and California. And I completely missed the Z in the grid. (Actually, I'm still not quite seeing it, but I believe it's there.) But on the plus side, I really enjoyed all the clues, and I didn't mind TERA-OHM, ORANGELOS, or MNEMONIZE at all!