Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015, Kevin G. Der

Around 25 minutes

Completed with my mother in NYC, prior to going to see the New York City Ballet with Phoebe, her 16th birthday present.

It took us a while to figure out entry into this puzzle. Mom immediately put GAIUS in, although we had it beginning with a c at first. That got us nowhere initially, so we switched to the NE, where ALHAMBRA was entered, along with mELD, unfortunately incorrect for the time being. I got STAREAT, and Mom got FAA, which allowed ____FIRS. Funnily enough, I said "noble" firs as a joke, never having heard of it. Later on it proved to be correct.

Even so, we had to switch to the SW, where things started moving. KENTISH was a gimme off of the clue, which led to the Aha moment of KIDSTHESEDAYS. A great entry, and reminiscent of Bye, Bye, Birdie, which Cece is performing in next weekend. The entire SW was filled in, with the excellent clue at 40D: Gay partner? (ENOLA). Having just finished Unbroken, the topic was very present in my mind.

So then we were able to break open the middle, and the rest went pretty quickly thereafter. The final square entered was the M of HOMEMATCH, a great clue demonstrating the way you can avoid the unnecessary question mark. Other such clues in this puzzle include 30D: They may put you to sleep (SEDATIVES), and 29D: Took down the garden path (LEDASTRAY). I recognize that these aren't being misleading in the cluing, but still I like the lack of question marks.

I've never drunk UNICUM, but I like the green bottles. I like the fact that 31D: Graceful architectural curve (SWANSNECK) is not "ogee." And best of all, I love 50D: Brace (TWO). What a lovely pairing of clue and answer.

Thumbs up from me!

- Colum


  1. 74:11
    Well, you finished much faster than did I. KENTISH was not a gimme for me, so KIDSTHESEDAYS went in slowly. NESTLE (37A Crunch producer) was a nice hidden capital that had me flummoxed for a long time, as did DETECTIVEWORK , USUAL, and too many others to list here. Suffice it to say, I was, BYGOSH, happy to eventually finish this thing. As a final note, I have not ever tried, nor even heard of, UNICUM, and I guessed "HOMEgAmes" first before HOMEMATCH slowly took over. Tough puzzle, but eventually satisfying.

  2. 52:30

    I put GAIUS in immediately, too, then took it out when I couldn't make it work right away. I should have trusted my instincts, but I am not familiar with UNICUM, and I rashly wanted "leather" for STUDDED (19A: Like many motorcycle jackets). Oh well. It took a long time to get something going in this one, but slowly and surely it got done. And I, for one, anyway, don't mind a question mark clue. 14A: Slanted coverage? (LEANTO) was great, 1D: Red state? (BLUSH) (wanted "owing" for a bit) was ok, but 23A: Reached quickly, quickly? (IMED) I could do without. VELURE seemed a bit over-the-top. My first reference lists it as "obsolete." Hmpf. But even with (or because of?) that, and a couple other complete unknowns, I still enjoyed the challenge.