Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015, Gareth Bain and Brad Wilber


I thought this one was going to go even faster! I had finished the bottom half in under 5 minutes, but clearly the upper half had my number.

I broke in at 22A: Fiver (ABE), which gave me CASABA, because what other fruit has a B in that position? I didn't get any purchase in the NW from that, but the D implied at the end of 3D gave me the ever-present ADAR at 25A. I wasn't holding out much hope at this point for the puzzle with two so hoary answers already in the grid.

I started to enjoy myself a little more when I saw MOHS (thinking of Horace's father), and then with 33A: One whose work hours may involve minutes (STENO), and SPINETS. I liked the clue at 33D: Terse cop order, more than the answer (SPREADEM), but I liked both at 36D: Rush-hour subway rider, figuratively (SARDINE). And the SW also had NEURO in it, so much happiness ensued.

50A: Chicken or mashed potato (DANCECRAZE) is one of my favorite clues today. I'm not sure  that "mashed potato" shouldn't be capitalized in this sense. In any case, I had the whole first word in place from the crosses before I looked at the clue, so the answer was fairly obvious.

I confused myself for a while by entering SorREnO, a town I made up out of whole-cloth. I was thinking of Sorrento, which is not on the Riviera at all, but on the Amalfi Coast. Did you know that I visited there? Wow. That was a year and a half ago. Still a wonderful memory! Anyway, it was compounded by putting in roDE at 40A (Took home). Not quite right. Anyway, I figured it out, and got the nice HOTMIC as a present.

54A: They're never required (ELECTIVES) is fine. It's clever having OBSOLESCE intersect with PASSE. Otherwise I wouldn't much want to see that word in the puzzle, as I feel it's not in common parlance at all.

After that, I stared at the puzzle for a while. Even with ACTII being a gimme for me (love La Boheme soooo much... sounding like a fan-girl here... a fan-girl for Puccini!), it took me a while to get purchase here. I love IONOSPHERE - a great word. 27A: Ballet supporters (TOES) is brilliant. I finished the puzzle at the cross of GOAPE and ROSH. That's a tricky crossing, for sure, but perfect for the time of year.

1A: Like Blofeld in Ian Fleming's "You Only Live Twice" (SCARFACED) is a little twisty. I think the adjective is appropriate, but I don't think it's what you'd say in conversation. "His face is scarred," perhaps. The term "Scarface" has such a strong association with the Pacino film, it's weird to see it this way referring to another person. I'll give it a B. But the puzzle was definitely enjoyable.

- Colum


  1. We enjoyed this one, too, as we solved it together. USANDTHEM was my first entry, and off that came RONS, FTD, and ACT, but I waited on those last two letters just in case there was a IV. What do I know from Puccini?

    I, too, thought of Dad when I put MOHS in without crosses, and thought of you at "56A: Brain study, informally," but waited for some confirmation before entering NEURO. It just seemed so much more like a prefix than an "informally." But I suppose it's just like "bio" or "chem," so I don't know why I was so hesitant.

    Enjoyed MAKENICE (Try to placate someone), OPERATOR (Wheeler-dealer), and REDEYES (They leave at night) up in the NE. And speaking of "not in common parlance," MARTINETS isn't so frequently used, either, is it? But a great word! And how 'bout "Do a school visit, maybe? (SCUBA). Funny. And overall, a fun puzzle.

  2. 41:26
    I finished most of this one very quickly, too, but was held up for a bit in the SE. I needed all of the crosses for SANREMO, and MARTINETS and OBSOLESCE (a great word) came slowly. SCHMO and GEEZERS aren't used too often anymore (PASSE?), and no one likes KIRSTIE one. RECTO, GRIM and COHORTS are just the sort of entries that we should see on Fridays. Thumbs up.