Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014, Joel Fagliano


Wow, I don't remember liking a puzzle this much for quite a while. The theme of CASEY (16A: Man trying to clarify the spelling of his name in…) to QRCIU (66A: What the listener might think 16-Across's name is?) is hilarious, and even though, once you got it, the "ASIN" part of the clues could be filled in without thinking, I still laughed every time. And really, we didn't have much left to fill in by the time we figured it out.

And even with all the exacting, symmetrical theme, the fill was actually very good. In fact, there was so much fun clueing (52A: College softball? (EASYA) & 27D: Support staff (CANE)), interesting factoids (4D: Elasticity symbol, in economics (EPSILON) & 5A: Like more than a third of U.S. immigrants nowadays (ASIAN)), and modern stuff (KIMYE (32D: Celebrity couple portmanteau) & YOLO (58D: Modern acronym suggesting "seize the day")), that a slightly larger-than-normal 16x15 grid was needed to fit it all!

As I look through this, it is taking some effort to both not call out every other clue as one I like, and to find any clue or answer that I don't like. It's just that good. Take the clue pair 43A: Fair (EXPO) and 48A: Not fair (RAINY) - neither is what I first expected! 6D: General reception? (SALUTE), brilliant. 5D: Tree in a giraffe's diet (ACACIA), interesting. 35D: Part of a black cloud (GNAT), nice clue. 38D: It's always underfoot (SOLE) (tried "soil" first), tricky! A little French, a little Italian, a little Spanish, a little Latin… it's got everything. I loved it, and so did the MISSUS.

A thoroughly enjoyable Thursday.

- Horace


  1. 35:55
    I thought I'd done something wrong when I saw that QRCIU was entered there, but yes, excellent. I knew EPSILON, but didn't know RAMON (20A Martin Sheen's real first name), and probably won't remember it. The ANYDAY / INABIT pair was nice (49 & 50D Soon) as was the sometimes seen TONS / LOTS (3D & 70A A whole bunch). CORONAE isn't my favorite, since the word "corona," when speaking of the Sun, usually refers to a specific thing that can't be pluralized. However, I see in the American Heritage Dictionary that the word refers to rings that can be seen around any luminous body through haze or such, so I guess it's OK. I liked clues for a couple of other short answers, too: 34D Air (AURA) and 59D Life lines? (OBIT). Finally, any mention of Hemingway (10D "The Old Man and the Sea" fish (MARLIN)) is fine with me. REALLY finally, how about the pat-on-the-back shout out of NYT (paired with NYU)?

  2. Funny, Frannie had that same reaction when she put the U beside the I. And yes, I meant to mention the rarely seen, self-referencial NYT. Very nice.

  3. 14:00. What a lovely puzzle. I had _ASEY, as ACACIA didn't immediately jump out at me, so it took me until I worked my through the SE to believe QRCIU. YASINYOU made it all obvious, and then all five of the theme answers went in without thinking. That made the rest of the puzzle easier, but still not easy, thanks to some awesome cluing. The SW was what was left for me, and it took seeing ARENA to break it open. Even then, ORIENTS and ANYDAY weren't easy. ALLEYS (nice clue), ARIES (nice clue), and RAINY (nice clue again). Beautiful!

    AGAVE was easier after the "Mescal" answer of a few days back. How about ALIBIS for "outs"? Not easy at all. Great puzzle all around.

  4. Strange that Rex Parker thinks this is a Monday level puzzle. The cluing is not straightforward at all.

  5. 21:04 FWOE
    I didn't know ACACIA either and put in LAuT instead of LAIT. But yes, a nice puzzle with some clever clues. I've heard EnglishTeacher59, a writer of puzzles he, admit that sometimes you're going to have to use crosswordese stuff that rich in vowels, so I always enjoy a unique clue, like (31A: Place often named after a corporation) for ARENA. Not terribly tough, but something a little different, as they say. I also liked the Fair and Not fair combo and originally put in Even for EXPO from the E cross from the also nicely clued CANE. I guess the rest has all be said. Although I also entered ASIN in three places without anything else once I figured out the theme, and because we pretty much went top to bottom, there was no confusion left for QRCIU.