Saturday, November 19, 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016, Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen


Wow. This was great. A struggle the entire way, but so satisfying to finish! My final letter was the B of BOSN (52D: J. M. Barrie's Mr. Smee, e.g.) (which makes me think, Isn't it interesting that the NYT puts a space between the initials of a name, but not between the initials of the abbreviated "exempli gratia?"... but never mind that now).
Just like a good Saturday puzzle should, this grid gave up very little in the first ten minutes. I think I guessed at SRTA (20A: Miss, abroad: Abbr.) first, but I wasn't sure of it, because it almost seemed too easy. Then SLAW (30A: Dish made with mayo) went in, and then, finally, two confident answers: FRAT (34A: It seeks pledges annually) and MAHAL (42A: Hindi for "palace"). But nothing was really connected, and it would be a long time before things slowly, but surely, came together, sort of from the NE back west, and then down.

I like the framework of six (!) interlocking fifteens. I liked the meta-ness of THENEWYORKTIMES (11D: It sold for a penny at its 1851 launch), and gave an audible sigh when I finally understood NBAALLSTARGAMES (62A: Where East meets West?). Yikes!

Lots to love in this grid, and very little, if any, glue. I suppose my first answer (SRTA) could be considered glue, and IPO, PSST, and IBN (51A: Arabic patronymic part). Yes, definitely that last... but on the other hand, I like all the foreign content (NOBLESSE, DICTA, SANS, ESSEERGO, MAHAL, FRAU, etc.), so why should I complain about that one? 1A: RANARISK (1A: Skated on thin ice) gets an A-. All it's missing is humor. ANOMALIES (14A: Blips) is good. TRANSLATE (33D: Decode) is good. And appropriate. TINGE, SNARE, GUFF... Loved it.

- Horace


  1. 19:48
    The Archivist and I did this together and it was one of those puzzles where our combined knowledge definitely cast a wider net than if one of us had done it alone. She got THENEWYORKTIMES from just the "W" and an incorrect second cross. I got NBAALLSTARGAMES with similar alacrity. She knew KERRYWASHINGTON, after a brief struggle with the given name. My familiarity with crosswordese (SETTO, OPTED, INGE, NEED) made the NE come together quickly, and MADAMEPRESIDENT was easy from there. I also got the YIN YANG pairing from just the "G" (perhaps you and FRANNIE will find it charming that YIN YANG was our combined Halloween costume last year).

    I'm not sure what to make of it, but the first thing I entered, and with great confidence, was LSD.

  2. 19:51
    Well, Fob, the two of you had me and Hope by 3 seconds. SRTA was my first entry, but my confidence dipped slightly when I saw the other foreign lady clue. SETI helped on that cross. Thanks to Hope for seeing THENEWYORKTIMES. I agree with you Horace, I love the meta nature of that one. Tough and fair throughout. Nice.

  3. 38:36 (FWTE)
    UFW/GUFF/KERRYWASHINGTON (I entered aFl). Lashington sounded like a reasonable last name. PANDA was my first confident answer. I loved the ULTRAFASTIDIOUS/ANAL pairing, and SETI is great. This puzzle was definitely NODAYATTHEBEACH.