Friday, September 4, 2015

Friday, September 4, 2105, David C. Duncan Dekker


Well, this was a whole bunch of fun. I solved it with Cece and her friend Grace (age 13 and 12 respectively). Cece got WHYYES, and Grace got GLIMPSES, so definite input from the young 'uns.

We broke into the grid at 28A: Man's do with upswept hair in the front (QUIFF), and discovered the string of 3 Qs. I wanted QUAKES at 24A: Trembles (QUAILS), but got it at 28D: Country rockers? instead. That's a cute little clue. Having filled in that little section of Qs, WETSUITS got us into the NW. As some of our readers know, I don't love grids which have such slight entries from one section to another. It means that the corners become separate puzzles.

That being said, I thought the NW corner was really top drawer, to quote a favorite film. I'll dispense with the theme of the month right here: 1A: Shop class cutter (BANDSAW) gets an A- from me. Partly that's because I misinterpreted the clue to mean exactly what 8A: Class cutter, say (SLACKER) meant. I love that we get both meanings across the top like that.

Meanwhile, you also get AVERAGE and LEGOSET, both with good clues. And 23A: Social group (ANTS) is a lovely little clue for a common word. Nice corner!

FROZEN got us into the eastern half of the puzzle. Cece suggested "moos" for 30D: Stock exchange? (LOWS), which put us off for a little while there. Other than PLANA which merited a collective "Huh?", the NE has some lovely entries as well. The trio of KAMIKAZE, EXAMINES, and RELAXANT are so rich in high-value Scrabble tiles. And ABYSMAL is great as well.

The rest of the puzzle moved pretty well along. FAXES crossing ZAXES looks great. Overall, the puzzle has three Qs, three Xs, three Js, three Ks, and three Zs. That's equal access letterage!

Meanwhile, 55D: Important Peruvian crop (OCA) gets our last entry of the puzzle. I'd never heard of it before and just trusted my acrosses. For the education, it gets a B-.

Happy lead-in to a long weekend.

- Colum


  1. 37:49
    TOM again, but with a different clue than yesterday. I, too, enjoyed all of the odd letters in the grid, and wanted QUAKES where QUAILS went. I never heard of a QUIFF, but trusted in my crosses. SPREES (25D Occasions that might lead to buyer's remorse) was especially well clued, as were a great deal of this puzzle's entries (HIRT, BASEPAY, AVENGE, MERGED, SCHMOS). FAXES was fine since "phoning" is a shortened form, and I, of course, loved ZAXES, which I filled in with no crosses. I have yet to see FROZEN or ANTS, but I do love a good MAEWEST film. I, like Cece, wanted mOoS instead of LOWS, and it slowed me down there, too. Two beefs: I don't consider KIX an alternative to Corn Pops, and haven't we had enough of ZIMA?

  2. 15:19

    Ripped through this one like a BANDSAW! And it's amusing to me, Colum, that your entree was QUIFF, as that is a word that was completely unfamiliar to me. I liked PLANA, on the other hand, which I take to be the "Main course" (of action) in that the alternative, "Plan B" is not necessary.

    There aren't just three of the high-point Scrabble letters today, there's three of every letter! It's a triple pangram, which makes the quality of this grid somewhat unbelievable. If you've never looked at the analysis that Xwordinfo provides for every NYT puzzle, now might be a good day to check it out -

    One of the things I learned from that site is that this is only the second NYT puzzle from Mr. Dekker. I'm looking forward to many more, because this was a very enjoyable Friday!

    1. Holy wow! I had no idea, and that makes the puzzle so much better.