Author: Patrick Blindauer
Theme: Numbers that add up to 23, clued for their sum (23). Or, "I think, therefore I add numbers together".
When you see Patrick Blindauer's name, brace yourself for something different. Patrick is certainly one of the most innovative puzzle constructors these days, and there is very often some kind of unique twist. Today's puzzle includes three clues to which the answer is "twenty-three", but in each case there are two consecutive fills that add up to twenty-three. If there is any significance to which addends were chosen (other than that they had the appropriate number of letters in them), I haven't deduced it. Let's see what we've got:
- 24a: Number before "skiddoo" (SIX + SEVENTEEN). Thank God we had the other two theme answers, because I had no idea what this was. Turns out it's slang from the 1920s meaning, basically, "skedaddle". There are many interesting hypotheses regarding the origin of the phrase, which you can read about here.
- 36a: Ninth prime number (ELEVEN + TWELVE). 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, ...
- 51a: Number of human chromosome pairs (TWENTY-TWO + ONE). Also, Michael Jordan's retired (and LeBron James' current) jersey number, the famous psalm ("The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want..."),...
I'll give this one points for originality, but I can't honestly say that I find the finished product to be all that compelling, themewise. Unless I'm missing some extra dimension I haven't discovered (which is very possible).
Update: Reader "evad" points out what should have been obvious to me -- that there were plus signs built into the black squares of the grid. I gotta pay more attention to the big picture. :) Thanks, evad; and sorry, Patrick, for missing it the first time around.
Trivia: How many people do you have to have in a room before the odds of any two having the same birthday are better than 50%? Answer at end.
- 21a: Nice way to say "Yes"? (OUI). Call me a sap, but I never get tired of this mechanism of using the city of Nice to indicate that the answer is French. It makes for such great surface reading.
- 35a: Finch's creator. (LEE). Referring, of course, to Atticus Finch from Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird". Very nice.
- 1d: Courier contemporary (AGASSI). TIMES NEW ROMAN wouldn't fit. :)
- 3d: Neil Simon's "___ Blues" (BILOXI). Great to have a fill that ends in "XI" and isn't a Roman numeral.
- 11d: Al Bundy portrayer on "Married... With Children" (ED O'NEILL). This show was FOX TV's first sitcom, and really pushed the envelope compared to standard netword fare, setting the stage for years of edgy television.
- 28d: Thing that helps you choose sides? (MENU). Good misdirection, plus it's about food. I shouldn't blog hungry.
- 31d: Beer bust dispenser (KEG). I always give a shout-out to the beer clues.
- 36d: Self-gratifying acts (EGO TRIPS).
- 38d: Some Olympians (EPÉEISTS). Nice twist to the ubiquitous EPÉE fill.
- 43d: Betty of Talkartoons (BOOP).
- 60d: Leaves in a bag (TEA). I've definitely seen this clue before, but I still enjoy the surface imagery.
- 7a: ___ Championship Series (BOWL). This one didn't jump right out at me; seemed like there many vague possibilities, and college football is not in the forefront of my sports consciousness.
- 15a: Cosmetic emollient (ALOE). Man, this shows up a lot.
- 17a: In the arms of Morpheus, so to speak (ASLEEP). Morpheus, besides being a main character in the Matrix movies, is the Greek god of dreams.
- 20a: Flavor of the Spanish liqueur patxaran (SLOE). I've heard of sloe gin, so it wasn't a great leap.
- 26a: Still contending (IN IT). I like that the puzzle eschewed the abbreviation (Init.) and went for the more colorful phrase.
- 32a: Command to a boxer. (SIT)
- 41a: Orbit, e.g. (GUM)
- 45a: Schrödinger subject (ATOM). Erwin Schrödinger was a Nobel prize-winning physicist specializing in quantum mechanics. I'm not getting any deeper than that here.
- 47a: "___ Call the Wind Maria" ("Paint Your Wagon" song) (THEY). Seems like a long way to go just for "they".
- 56a: DDT banner (EPA). Banner in the sense of those who ban something.
- 58a: "Collateral" actress ___ Pinkett Smith (JADA). I saw "Collateral" and didn't remember she was in it. But she's another tie-in to the Matrix trilogy, where she played Niobe.
- 64a: Tinted (DYED). I had HUED to start.
- 68a: Obstinate (ORNERY). I think ornery is a great word. Right up there with aloof; maybe it will show up again tomorrow... :)
- 2d: Cotton fabric (MUSLIN)
- 4d: Beekeeper played by Peter Fonda (ULEE). If "Ulee's Gold" did nothing else, it immortalized Peter Fonda in Crosswordland.
- 5d: Véronique, e.g.: Abbr. (STE). I didn't notice the "Abbr" part at first and wanted to put NOM (French for "name") there.
- 7d: "Muppet ___" (animated '80s TV show set in a nursery) (BABIES).
- 9d: "A Man in Full" author Tom (WOLFE)
- 10d: Get smart? (LEARN). I don't know if the question mark is warranted here, but I like the reference to the old Don Adams TV show.
- 13d: Kind of ballot (ABSENTEE). This was a really easy clue, especially during an election year. 'Kind of father?' would be tougher.
- 19d: Champed thing (BIT). Cute, but easy.
- 25d: Beta's rival in a format war (VHS). Gee, I wonder who won?
- 34d: "Find out how good we really are" sloganeer (TWA). Not so good that they didn't go bankrupt and get bought out by American.
- 42d: Pinning surface (MAT). Pinning, not pinning down. Happy, puzzlegirl? :)
- 48d: Grinder (HOAGIE). Mmmmm... food.
- 53d: Undergarment for women (TEDDY). I know some of you were expecting a slinky lingerie shot here, but we're erring on the side of decency. For a real cheesecake shot (you have been warned), try this one!
Happy now? :)
- 62d: Ballad ending? (-EER). These suffix clues are gimmes after a while. Is anyone out there still getting fooled by these?
Suns of Bitches:
- 12d: "Fathers and Sons" novelist Ivan (TURGENEV). Didn't know this one. Won't know it next time either. Got it completely from crossings.
- 27d: Yom ___ (holiday, in Hebrew) (TOV). Made sense once I saw it, but it wasn't something I knew.
- 54d: Belgian violinist Eugène (YSAŸE). I know a fair number of classical musicians, but not this one. Of course, he died over 30 years before I was born. I have no doubt he was very talented.
- 58d: Rolling Stone honcho Wenner (JANN). That's the magazine, not the rock group. Luckily I knew JADA at 58a, or else this would have been a total guess-the-letter.
All in all, not a bad puzzle, but not in the same league as some of the gems that Patrick has produced in the past year. Is that a fair standard for a puzzle? Probably not. Still, as gimmicks go, this one fell a little short for me.
Thanks for listening.
- Pete M.
Trivia answer: 23