Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016, Matthew Sewell

6:36 (FWOE)

FANTASYSPORTS... a sink into which you could pour all of your life if you let it. Or, in today's puzzle, a revealer for a set of games in four fictional universes. Only one of theme fits within the Fantasy genre, so I'll take the term to mean "the faculty or activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable".

In that sense, I like that we get one near-contemporary comic strip, one science fiction setting, one young adult fantasy series, and one classic children's book. The clear loser here is PODRACING, as it comes from the least (by far) of the seven Star Wars movies. All we need say is Jar Jar Binks, and the rest is oblivion.

Otherwise, CALVINBALL is such a wonderful reference. It was really strange to come across it today, as my daughter and I were discussing it just last night. QUIDDITCH was an obvious choice. However, the all time winner has to be POOHSTICKS. Yes, it's that game where two people stand on a bridge and drop a stick over on the upstream side. They then race to the opposite side to see whose stick emerges first from underneath. And that's it. The best sport ever.

As for the rest of the puzzle, I love SOUNDTRACKS and CONTRETEMPS. Those are fine long down answers right there. And who doesn't like a good BAKLAVA? And it crosses FLAN (although I've never much liked that dessert).

I'm going to cry foul though on 1D: VCR insert (TVTAPE). Huh? What does that even mean? Surely it's a VCR tape, or a videotape, or video cassette. 1A: To-do list item (TASK) gets a C for averageness. As I started the puzzle, I was not at all sure about 1A, and then entered bLOG at 14A, which allowed me to enter the first answer I was sure about, KGS.

My error came at the cross of UNCAS and ROSEN. I had an L there, for no good reason at all.

- Colum


  1. 12:28
    Yeah, TVTAPE is no good at all. I agree fully about POOHSTICKS. It's a shame that there aren't more bridges over rivers in this country; I'd love to hear the candidates' position on that issue. The theme was fine, but haven't we seen enough of ANACIN lately? And I wasn't crazy about ENTERON (30A Start, as an adventure). Loved THATSO (50D "Honest?"). For blue suggestions, I'd have re-clued PAW.

  2. Agreed that TVTAPE and ENTERON are dubious at best. I will accept a tau cross as a thing, even though I didn't get the answer, because it does have a wikipedia page and a decent amount of usage.

    I did think CONTRETEMPS was pretty impressive and the theme was fun. Although the answers all started in fiction, at least QUIDDITCH and POOHSTICKS have made their way to the real world (at least in my family, POOHSTICKS have - if it hasn't in yours, I recommend it).

  3. 10:00

    Turns out I have played POOHSTICKS, but I have never heard that name before. Was that a demonstration sport this year in Rio? I think it was... It should have been.