Here’s last week’s second Fireball puzzle — subscribe and read on while we thank the Academy.
“And the Nominees Are…”
Constructor: Roger DePont
Size: 21 x 15
Theme: Nominees for the 2015 Best Picture Oscar.
- 23A/36A/48A/60A/80A: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, THE MARTIAN, THE BIG SHORT, BRIDGE OF SPIES, ROOM, SPOTLIGHT, BROOKLYN, AND THE REVENANT – With 36-, 48-, 60-, and 80-Across, 2015’s Best Picture nominees
Ben: This is an annual tradition for Fireball, and it goes all the way back to Peter Gordon’s days at the New York Sun. The most noteworthy thing about the puzzle, obviously, is the timeliness of it — the grid is constructed, filled, clued and edited in less than a day.
Ben: I’m always impressed by how DePont and Gordon manage to make the theme answers symmetrical. In a perfect world, that AND wouldn’t be there, but it’s a reasonable compromise, I think.
Ben: I’ve seen 5 of the 8 movies listed here, with ROOM, SPOTLIGHT and BROOKLYN being the exceptions. That’s high for me with a list of Best Picture nominees. I actually just got back from seeing THE BIG SHORT earlier today, and it’s very good, but I think my favourite is probably THE MARTIAN.
Michael: I’ve seen literally none of these movies, but I’m gonna see “The Martian” soon if only because one of the producers attended the same small college I did, and he Follows me on Twitter. Only seems right. I actually really want to see “Room” and “The Revenant.”
Ben: There really isn’t much to say about this beyond admiring the speed with which it was constructed. The theme is, of course, dead simple, while the fill… well, let’s just say the price of the fast construction is fill that is obviously far from polished. Some of the long stuff like HEAVE-HO (14D: Dismissal) and CHINA SET (34A: Matching dishes) is nice.
Michael: Peter does this every year. It’s a fun bonus puzzle. It’s Peter, so (especially considering how fast this puzzle comes out after the nominations) the grid is impressively clean. EPITOMIZES, GALVANIC … very bright longer stuff, and inoffensive shorter stuff.
Ben: MOHELS (12A: They often cut members) and OMB (13D: Federal fiscal agcy.) are a tough crossing, though it would probably be easier if I were Jewish. Lyle MOZATO also gave me some trouble in the opposite corner, but otherwise this is an easy puzzle because of all the freebies (assuming you’ve seen the nominee list, of course).
Michael: You mean Lyle ALZADO? That was a gimme, as his fame peaked along with my childhood interest in the NFL—ask me about the complete set of NFL helmet magnets I got from IHOP in the late 70s)
Ben: Oops — I was still thinking MOHELS.
Michael: The MOHELS clue is great. MOHELS is one of the few answers where I feel you are very safe making the clue a dick joke.
Ben: This is a pretty straightforward puzzle, so either you’re impressed by the gimmick or you’re not. I liked it, and I think once a year is about right for this sort of thing.