Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014, Alex Vratsanos


Today marks the one-year anniversary of our first post here at Horace and Frances, and we'd like to thank every one of you who's stopped by to read, whether it was just once, looking for an answer, or nearly every day to join in the conversation. Frannie and I have had a lot of fun doing the puzzles, and are repeatedly amazed by the creativity and cleverness of the constructors. We have talked of trying to create a puzzle of our own, but so far, that hasn't happened. I can only assume that when it does, we'll have even more respect for those who do it so well.

Today's puzzle was very good. I thought I had sniffed out a rebus early when I saw 35A: Rembrandt van ____ (RYN). I wanted "RijN," but I couldn't really convince myself that the rebus could be "IJ," unless it was made to look like a smiley-face somehow… but even that didn't really work. Luckily, I was wrong, and there was no rebus at all. Only COLORBYNUMBER (13D: Kid's art activity … or something seen four times in this puzzle's solution?) (OK, why the question mark there? They're question mark happy at the Times!). We've seen side-by-side themes, or "under" or "over" themes, but I don't remember one done exactly this way.

The NW was the last to go for us today. I knew that 5D: Mashie niblick (SIXIRON) was a club, because I had once bought either a mashie or a niblick at an old church fair. I hadn't known that together they made their own club, but I guessed it was an iron. I was thinking along the lines of "one" or "two," so BOARS (1A: Swine), and BRUNEI (12A: Country that calls itself the "Abode of Peace") were hard to figure out. Also, I don't know why RATEDX (15A: Like only one Best Picture in Academy Award history (1969)) (!) took us so long. What else could it be, really, once "documentary" didn't fit? Anyway, I eventually reasoned that 1A might end in S, and then everything fell into place rather quickly. It probably shouldn't have taken as long as it did, but it was very late, and I was very tired.

Some nice internal pairings - KTS (23 Gold units: Abbr.) and DPS (46A: Diamond stats) That was tricky! (baseball: double-plays), but maybe not as tricky for non-sports fans as RHE (54A: Line score inits.), which is, I believe, "Runs, Hits, Errors." And speaking of baseball, what the heck is "SFO" in 22D: SFO opponent in the 2012 World Series (DET)? Is that just a typo?

TORPOR (60A: Lassitude), BLACKOPS (9D: 2010 installment of Call of Duty series), SERENADE (58A: Play to the balcony?) - those are all quite nice. And SEAGREEN (33D: Teal relative) was always my favorite Crayola color. All in all, it's a great anniversary puzzle!

- Horace


  1. 54:06
    Isn't SFO just the scoreboard abbreviation for San Francisco (Giants vs. Tigers)? That NW was BRU-TAL! I had no idea what the nonsense phrase "Mashie niblick" meant. I mistakenly assumed that Sweden might be 12A Country that calls itself the "Abode of Peace" which led me to all sorts of trouble. Eventually I figured that OUTACT is the only thing that could possibly go into 2D Best on stage, say (I'd already gotten REDTAPE for 4D), and once I plugged that in, the rest slowly fell. The rest of the puzzle went clockwise from the NE in 25 minutes prior to all of that mess. I, believe it or not, got ESPO (32A Boston legend Phil, to fans) right away since that was the era during which I would often accompany my father to Fenway and rarely missed a game on TV (while listening to the play-by-play on the radio). Nice to see the ICBM mentioned since SCUD was recently in a puzzle. Horace must have been happy to see 63A Not hypothetical (INESSE). Sue and I, many years ago, enjoyed FRESCAS (6D Some diet drinks) with vodka, so that brought back memories. Frannie must remember EIGHTBIT graphics. I sure do. I thought that 24D Elate (SEND) was tricky, and couldn't DONG (30D Vietnamese currency) have had a better clue? On a related note, 46D Hung (DRAPED) could have had a better answer. I won't mention 48D at all. Finally, EEL had one of its best clues today with 55D Reef dwellers.

  2. 21:43. I agree with much that has been said already, except to say congratulations, and amazing that you've kept this up so long to Horace and Frannie. I got into the grid with FERBER (great movie by the way, as well), so the NE was the first to be completed. Didn't get the theme until I'd filled in the NW as well, but it helped me put the GREEN next to THREE, and the ONE next to TAN. My only problem with the theme, which is well worked out, is that two (i.e. half) of the number answers relate to golf: once you've gone that far, maybe all four should be. Or else find a different answer for one of them. Otherwise I really enjoyed the cluing today. Funny that I immediately assumed that "Diamond stats" referred to baseball (and the "line score inits" as well). SERENADE and KEELOVER (which I initially misread as KEE-LOVER) were excellent in the SW.

  3. SFO is not a normal abbreviation for the Giants on any scoreboard or box score that I've ever seen. And Espo never played at Fenway, but I'm guessing you just reference Fenway as a way to say that you were more involved in all the Boston sports back then.

    Funny, too, about the Huygens material.

    And thanks, Colum. It has gone by quickly. You remain the only "guest blogger" to date. We might have to employ one for an entire week later this summer. Interested?

    1. Of course! Assuming I'm available as well, but it should work out. Let me know!

    2. Yes, of course. He was a Bruin. I was temporarily addled. My father and I regularly went to those games, too, although the heating system of a VW Bug left much to be desired on those winter rides. We had, as I recall, warm ankles.

  4. Sorry, we've gotten a bit behind on puzzles with the whole selling/moving thing. But SFO is the three letter code for San Francisco airport. DET is correct for the Wayne County airport serving Detroit. And yes, RHE is most definitely Runs Hits Errors.