Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Wednesday, April 17 2024, Joseph Gangi

In a nod to dromedary camels everywhere - happy "Hump Day" everybody!  Let me get one thing out of the way, right up front:  I did *not* like 1A in today's puzzle:  FLORAS ("Groups of plants").  I really don't think FLORA is a word you can pluralize.  Having gotten that nit out of the way - what an admirable piece of construction!  The theme centres around THECYCLOPS, the one-eyed figures of Greek and Roman mythology, and in homage, the entire grid contains one single 'I', centred near the top where it should be.  Furthermore, the puzzle's clues are entirely devoid of 'I's.  This is revealed in the very last Across clue (ONEEYE) - which I missed at first, having gotten the SE corner entirely from the Down clues, and so I discovered this paucity of 'I's all by myself, which was more rewarding in a way.

All of this elaborate construction was in service of a pleasant, Wednesday-appropriate solve.  I did not know that POLYPHEMUS was a Cyclops, so I needed a lot of help from the crossers in the NW corner.  Over to the right, I got "farbed up", as my mother would say, trying to jam POTATOSALAD in as a "Potluck staple" (PASTASALAD, of course).  Also causing trouble was "How Jenga blocks are placed, hopefully", which I thought was EVENLY but was STABLY instead. 

Excellent cluing can be found the SW corner with "D.C.'s B and A" (STS).  I love the reverse alphabetical order in that one.  I also liked "Mental MATH".  I do it all the time.  Is it staving off any sort of decline?  Time will tell...  "Egg ___" was a weird way to clue SAC.  Oh and "Wrap for a monarch?" (COCOON) was a quality QMC.

Kudos to Mr. Gangi for the the fabulous, effortful construction today!


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