Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015, Paolo Pasco


I really really enjoyed this Friday pinwheel of a grid. There's a lot of great clues, some very nice long answers, and an overall sense of fun that had me laughing out loud and reporting clue-answer pairings to Hope. I did the puzzle at the outset of a long day's driving from Albany to north of Augusta, Maine. On the way, we stopped in Ogunquit, and walked the Marginal Way. Beautiful! I can't believe it's been 16 years since we last visited Vacation Land.

Anyway, I had some difficulty breaking into the puzzle. The NW was a mystery, even, you might say, an ENIGMA, an answer I should have gotten off the bat, but I was thinking about Turing's invention (called a bombe, by the way). In any case I moved to the NE, where I put in ESTOPS, TSO,  and surprising myself with ANITRA, which I recalled from Grieg.

I didn't get any more traction there, so I tried the SW without avail. It was the SE that finally caved for me. I put in ALOMAR off the clue, and REDPEN off of that. I'll admit that I had yet to uncover anything particularly interesting to this point, but the puzzle started to take off. 37D: It's a wrap (SERAPE) without a question mark was a good start. Hope gave me MAGELLAN.

I moved to the middle, where 29A: 1990s sitcom set in New York could have been just about any sitcom of that decade, but MADABOUTYOU fit. A few crosses allowed me to get WALTERMITTY and SOMERSAULTS. I particularly liked 22D: Like some chairs (ENDOWED) which took me a moment to get. Boy, that could have been clued for some ultra-Huygens material.

The NW went pretty quickly after that. BIGIDEAS is a decent entry. But the long downs in the middle are quite fine. MINORTHREAT, KICKSTARTER, and BECAUSEICAN. That accounts for six strong 11-letter entries.

Some good clues: 7A: Fix ... or damage (SCRAPE) is lovely. I did not see that definition of "fix" coming, due to the juxtaposition with "damage". 8D: Get cracking? (CHAP) is clever. 33D: Buff runner? (STREAKER) was perhaps too obvious, but I liked it anyway. And 48D: It might be worn by a hiking group (PATH) is great stuff. Not to mention 16A: Person having one too many? (BIGAMIST).

Very smooth solve.

- Colum

P.S. I had not heard of the author of this puzzle, so I read Wordplay, to find out that yes, this is his first published puzzle, and he's only 15! Holy cow. Fine work, and I hope we'll see a lot more of Mr. Pasco in the future.


  1. Man, it's like we're brothers: I too started with ALOMAR and ASNER (but isn't that the SW?) after failing to gain any traction anywhere else I looked. It all fell nicely from that corner outward. What a terrific puzzle! A bright beacon in a largely dark and dreary week. Your review nicely spotlights most of the fine elements. I had the same reaction to the definition of "fix" used in 7-Across. Very cool and clever. I think my favorite entry of all is MINORTHREAT. It's charmingly unusual and there is an understated elegance to it. It's almost an oxymoron, isn't it? Fortunately you left a few gems for me to call out. PEDANT is a very nice six-letter entry, but how psyched is Huygens going to be about "Like e, but not i"? (The Dutchman, as you may or may not know, loves the maths almost as much as he loves ribaldry) Also enjoyed "Result of a messy breakup?" even though my smug first try "debRis" resulted in my only writeover. KAHUNAS brought a smile; it's just that kind of word. When they are this stellar, I could n't care less about the 3-letter fill. I will just say, though, that I don't know NAS or his work at all, but I'm already sick of him. And to be a nitpicker, I don't think "nonsense" rings exactly true in the "Nonsense song syllable" clue for SHA. Love, love, love this Friday, though. Young Paolo has set a high bar for his future submissions.
    P.S. I was wondering what the cut-off age is such that those below it don't immediately think of Clemente when they see "Roberto in the Baseball Hall of Fame."

    1. Of course, I did mean the SW, not the SE. And I guess I'm of the age that I thought of Clemente first, but went to Robbie ALOMAR when it didn't fit.

  2. 0:36:46

    So young Mr. Steinberg has some new competition! I agree that this was an excellent debut. And it's impressive that he puts in "grown up" references like WALTERMITTY and MINORTHREAT (grown-up because of the cluing, which, come to think of it, could have been Shortz's doing...) without resorting to completely obscure references. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes it feels more like somebody has just looked up a lot of trivia, but these things are in the public consciousness. Like STREAKER, for example. Nobody's talked about them since the Seventies, but everybody knows what they are. And unlike TAMAR, which is clearly just forced because it actually appears in print somewhere. Same with BEL and SHA, I guess, which are both terrible, in my opinion. But still, sometimes you have to allow for such things in order to get this kind of a grid.

  3. 27:41
    My goodness...15. I did, indeed, love 45A Like e, but not i (REAL), ET59, and read it aloud to Sue, who was less-impressed. And yes, Colum, ENDOWED could have been clued a little more risque-ly. But I agree that this is an excellent puzzle on its own, and amazingly so when it is considered that it's a 15-year-old's debut. Nice placement of TICKS below TIMECOP (a movie with which I'm unfamiliar, and will probably remain so), and any time I see Kahuna in a puzzle in any form I think of the excellent performance of Adam West as the Big Kahuna in "American Vampire." Back to REAL, though, I was also pleased that it appears below CERES, which I filled in with zero crosses. How can one not think of The Three Stooges when one hears of an APESUIT?