Sunday, April 3, 2016

Monday, April 4, 2016, David Kwong


Before I get to the puzzle, let me just say - Congratulations to Howard Barkin! He pulled off the upset of the year, taking down Dan Feyer in an exciting final round at the 2016 A.C.P.T.

On Friday evening Howard had come over to Frannie and me in the bar, holding up one of the "Horace and Frances and Colum" cards I had been surreptitiously leaving around the hotel, and he asked "Is this you?" Now, it's not especially easy to find us, since we use veronyms at the tournament, but find us he did. We had a very nice chat about this and that, and then went our separate ways. He had told us that he was in division A, but I had no idea how high up in division A! Anyway, great job, Howard! Frannie, acting as your agent, will be readying the sedan chair for your grand entrance to the tournament next year as defending champion. :)

So all in all, another satisfying weekend at the A.C.P.T. We both had a great time, but now it's time to get back to the normal daily grind until next March!

Today's puzzle has five countries spelled backwards, hidden inside an actor's name and four two-word phrases. The country name always spans both parts of the theme answer, and the revealer, BACKCOUNTRY (61A: Rural area ... or what can be found in each set of circled letters?) was perfect. So thumbs up on the theme.

The fill includes a few partials (ONA, OWAR, ORBE), three TV channels (CSPAN, NPR, CNN), and some less-than-desirable elements (GASTRO, ISE, NSEC), but I'll stop short of saying GAH (24D: Exasperated cry). I don't want anyone to say that I RANTED, so I'll BEFAIR, and appreciate the good theme and decent fill like DAYLIT (5D: Naturally illuminated), TASSEL (28A: Mortarboard attachment), and well... maybe that's it.

I enjoyed it, and it was a relief to breeze through in under 5:00. Where was that sort of solving time this weekend?!?

- Horace

p.s. 1A: Republican grp. (GOP) - D, because, well, GOP. Sorry, I just can't even.


  1. Thanks you two! It was great to chat with you.
    I did find you, but we are puzzle people; solving things is what we do.
    Hope you had a good time there, seems like you did. I still say meeting people each year and talking about puzzles and life in general is what brings many of us back (myself included).

    P.S. We can all take turns on the sedan chair.

    1. Thanks for checking in again, Howard. It was great to meet you, too. I'm already looking forward to next year!

  2. 4:07
    A very nice puzzle for the most part. I solved quickly enough not to really notice the less than savory stuff. I love the idea of finding countries backwards in standard phrases. And I think all of these phrases are standard enough, with one full semi-celebrity name. I enjoyed it.

    1. Apparently this puzzle is in tonight's episode of Blindspot on NBC. There is supposed to be a hidden message in it somehow! Metapuzzle!!

    2. Not much of one. Just that the first three down answers say "Got one. Patterson."

    3. Interesting. Ish. We don't watch Blindspot, but we saw a little of it last night and heard the puzzle mentioned. We didn't hear that explanation, though, so thanks.

  3. 7:29
    I loved the theme, and didn't mind (too much) the less-than-desirable fill. Nice "Commotion" trio of FLAP, TODO and ADO. Too long of a clue, IMO, for ETNA. I mean, "volcano" and "Italy" screams ETNA. I had sunLIT instead of DAYLIT briefly, but there were no real sticking points today.