Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016, Damon Gulczynski


Lots to like in this puzzle. WELLSHUTMYMOUTH (3D: "Huh, how about that!"), THATSABIGIF (36A: Skeptical rejoinder), and SOSUEME (43D: "I messed up ... what of it?!") are all SASSY entries! BASH (42A: Criticize in no uncertain terms) is brash, NOSEJOB (1D: Hook remover, perhaps) was unexpected, and PARKED (35A: Staying put) is well-clued. Everywhere you look, you can find something to like. Even that '80s crossing of MCRIB (26D: Fast-food debut of 1981 (which I dropped in without crosses) and NEWCOKE (29A: Noted bomb in a longtime war) (which took much longer) was entertaining.

For all this fun, long fill ripping through the grid we find some crossword dust has fallen into the crevices. ARA (5D: Only three-letter constellation other than Leo), which most of us probably came to know through crosswords, SPFOSH, OTHOSRS, and BTUS, but I think today it's a price well paid.

For me, things really slowed down in the middle South. I had erroneously entered JUSTDEssert, not realizing, I guess, that JUSTDESERTS (25D: Comeuppance) uses an old definition of "desert" meaning "that which is deserved, or merited, especially punishment." I really wanted TRICK (63A: Bridge unit), though, once I had thought of it, and so I removed "dessert" and put that in to see what I could see from there, and then, finally!, BOOMMICS (38D: Extended interview components) became clear. Wow, that's a tough one! SCLERA (46D: White of the eye) is not common, and REGIS (59A: Denver's ____ University) is not something I knew. Bill Murray apparently attended the school, but did not graduate. Anyway, AEGIS (52D: Backing), too, was tricky, but eventually it all came together.

1A: Amphibian once associated with bad spirits (NEWT) gets a B+. I tried both "frog" and "toad" before getting it right, but in my defense, I think many amphibians have been tarred with the ol' "bad spirits" brush at one time or another, haven't they? As for my first confident answer, hmmm.... I'm pretty sure I put in HOAX (16A: Crop circles, e.g.) off the clue, but I was more sure of the next one, SILO (17A: Part of many a rural skyline).

Overall, I rate this an excellent Friday puzzle. As Colum so nicely put it on Wednesday, each crossword is an oasis, a break from other cares, and when they're this good, it's extra nice because you get to savor them for a bit longer. Keep 'em coming, Shortz!

- Horace


  1. I was duped by "just deserts" as well. I'd never heard nor seen the expression used this way. Overall an enjoyable and a somewhat easy puzzle for a Friday.

  2. 10:37 (FWOE)
    I tried yRS at 48D: Yearbook div., and justified OZy in my mind as being some kind of pharmaceutical prefix, even though the clue clearly asks for measures. All the long answers in this grid are really strong. I love BOOMMICS with its clue. That's a great looking answer. I had lASH for a while, and couldn't see MCRIB until I realized the Mc opening was the necessary bit. Excellent puzzle.

  3. 43:00
    I put NEWT in off of the clue, and it was my first confident answer. But NOSEJOB took a long time, as did the rest of the NW. Had I known French (TROIS), it would have dropped more quickly; I knew NEWT was correct because I knew it would be the French "three" going down from the clue, which didn't fool me for a second. ROACH Motel is great, and I tried Aetna where AFLAC goes at first, but really, the puzzle went pretty quickly save for the aforementioned NW and the south middle, where I, too, fell for the JUSTDESERTS trouble. Colum probably knew SCLERA right away, but I needed most of the crosses for that one. The one that took a surprisingly long time for me was CHEESEPIZZA, even though it was so obvious that I wrote in _____PIZZA off of the clue. You'll recall that I erroneously entered Aetna at first, giving an "a" instead of the necessary "C" for the first letter. I should have finished this one in the 20s.