Scaly anteater / WED 8-12-15 / Roman equivalent of Rhea / 19th century Midwest railway hub / Word after which parent might interrupt child / Monster encountered by Aeneas
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Constructor: Tom McCoy
Relative difficulty: Challenging ... for a Wednesday
THEME: SELF-REFLECTION (11D: Activity on Lent or Yom Kippur ... or a quality of every letter in the answer to each starred clue) —theme answers have mirror symmetry within themselves, i.e. bilateral symmetry, i.e. every letter's right half is a mirror image of its left half (or, better, every answer will look exactly the same if you hold the puzzle up to a mirror—try it!)
- TOMAYTO, TOMAHTO (3D: *"Same difference")
- "MAMMA MIA" (4D: *Musical that includes the song "Take a Chance on Me")
- "OUT WITH IT!" (31D: *"Stop hemming and hawing!")
- "WHAT A HOOT!" (8D: *"That sure was funny!")
- THATAWAY (38D: *Where "they went," in old westerns)
nounnoun: pangolin; plural noun: pangolins
- an African and Asian mammal that has a body covered with horny overlapping scales, a small head with elongated snout, a long sticky tongue for catching ants and termites, and a thick, tapering tail. (google)
• • •
MAHI MAHI) technically have mirror symmetry on the individual letter level, which is all the revealer clue requires, but I think the point is that if you hold the puzzle up to a mirror, you can still read the whole entry just fine (or, if you fold the answer lengthwise back upon itself, the two halves of each letter will match up perfectly). What do I think of this theme? I don't know. It's OK, I guess. You get some interesting theme answers, that's for sure. Mostly I think this is a just-OK super-sized (16-wide) puzzle with an overabundance of very short fill (3s and 4s) that makes it occasionally a mild nuisance to fill. But, as I say, there's some interesting stuff in here, and it was challenging (for a Wednesday, for me), and compared to yesterday's puzzle, this is Caravaggio-level artistry, so I'm reasonably content. I'll take back-to-back TOPEKAs over back-to-back NABOBs *any day*!
This played quite hard for me. Wicked hard clue on the 3-letter 1-Across, and many things thereafter were far from straightforward. TOMAYTO TOMAHTO, for instance. Yikes. Creative, but took me many crosses to pick up. GLORIOUS is an [Adjective for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un] only if you are forced to call him that. Nothing in the clue about the literal inaptness of the adjective, so I needed many crosses there too. GOLF was cross-referenced, so more work there. I've never ever Ever heard of a PANGOLIN (looks like the name of some "Lord of the Rings" creature), so that was bananas. Thank god I didn't see 63A: Roman equivalent of Rhea (OPS), 'cause I have no idea what that means. When I google "OPS" my first hit is the should-be-most-common OPS definition: the baseball statistic "on-base plus slugging." Everything else is "Call of Duty"-related. Nothing about this alleged Roman being. So she's the wife of Saturn. Fertility goddess. Alrighty then. ANYWAY, the upshot is, this puzzle was both bigger and harder than your average Wednesday.
Loved several of the themers, most notably "OUT WITH IT!" and "WHAT A HOOT!" I am also pleased with the high-currency colloquialism that is 'STACHE. Someone (I forget who) was just telling me a story that involved his family recalling his uncle's having had a "porn 'STACHE" in the '80s. This discussion resulted in the uncle's getting very embarrassed and defensive, as he was hearing "stash," not 'STACHE. Easy mistake to make. "Uncle Bob, remember that porn stash you had in the '80s!?" "What the ... I did not .. how did you ...?" Etc.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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