HAPPY2014 to all of Horace and Frances' readers! Colum here, guest-blogging, even as H and F spend the New Year in Albany with me.
This Wednesday puzzle played harder for me than I expected, or was it just that I was completing it at one in the morning, after the champagne and rye? It started with 1A: Frank's partner in the funnies (ERNEST). What is this? I've looked it up and found it on gocomics.com, and I still have never seen it before. And 1D is no simpler. I may have heard of EGBERT, but even Wikipedia does not convince me that the ninth century king of Mercia is the nominal first king of England.
Other answers I was unhappy with: HOARSEN, which I wanted to be cOARSEN, and CAVER, which should just not be in a crossword puzzle ever. On the plus side, I liked PAULINA, wife of Ric Ocasek, and thus a nice Boston connection, DONHO, MADMEN, CHIMERA, and AUSTERE. That last answer took some time for me to see.
The central answer should have been much more obvious to me, and I think it's well managed for the most part, except for 24D: Achieved through difficulty (HARD1), which doesn't seem precisely correct. So I guess I don't love this puzzle, but I enjoyed blogging it! You may see my name here again in the future.