Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016, Martin Ashwood-Smith and George Barany


I think I'm going to have to give up my unreasoned antipathy to quad stacks if these kinds of puzzles keep on cropping up. This is at least the second such puzzle in a row I'm going to give a positive review to. I must retire my curmudgeon personality. That's sort of sad.

I thought things would go swimmingly when 1A: ____ Nast, publisher of Vogue (CONDE) was such a gimme. That's a C+ clue and answer. We look for something a little more challenging to start off Friday.

If I'm going to complain about anything with this puzzle, it's that the top, middle, and bottom play as somewhat separated mini-puzzles. While there are a number of outstanding long down answers connecting the sections, they are surrounded by a plethora of less pleasing 3-letter answers. Which was your least favorite line? Mine was ONS PTL ETH. By the way, that middle one refers to Jimmy and Tammy Faye Bakers' television show.

But on the positive side, we get such excellent answers as COPACETIC, LAVIEBOHEME, and my actual favorite, HADAHANDIN. What a wonderful four-word answer. I'm not a fan of ELVINBISHOP, because who?

I will now proceed to grade the grid-spanners. In the quad stack, three of the four are top notch. How did it take me so many crosses to recall HOTELCALIFORNIA? Once I saw it, I wanted to slap myself. I would definitely have finished more quickly had I remembered it more quickly. ARRIVESONTHEDOT and LAIDITONTHELINE are great. TRAININGSEMINAR is definitely more neutral, but fine.

17A: Company concerned with net profits? (SERVICEPROVIDER) is saved by the cute clue. Otherwise it is standard, hardly sparkling. But HADTHELASTLAUGH is brilliant.

And I like how the top and bottom 15-letter answers are sandwiched with 8- and 9-letter answers. 19A: Big name in pop (COCACOLA) wins for the best clue. Boy, I was struggling with possible pop stars for a long time. 57A: Pasta strip (EGGNOODLE) also was not what I was looking for. I really wanted "papardelle" or "tagliatelli". The __GN___ just made things more difficult because I was stuck on the "lasagna" possibility.

A pleasant continuation of the turn. Let's keep it going, NYT!!!

- Colum


  1. 35:24
    I'd have finished more quickly if I knew who ELVINBISHOP is. Loved 46D "___ Please, we're British" (1971 stage farce) (NOSEX), and, of course, FIONA. TOSSPOTS is great, as was ITALO, just because it seems so obvious and appropos, clued as it is with a Mussolini reference. It took me way too long for HOTELCALIFORNIA, also. I needed quite a few of the crosses for LAVIEBOHEME, but COCACOLA dropped in right away for me.

  2. 16:24
    Yeah, that I in Bishop was the last letter I put in. Have I mentioned how much I disliked "Slumdog Millionaire?".... me, I'm not giving up my curmudgeonly persona any time soon.

    TOSSPOTS (Sponges) was odd. I guess I have mostly heard TOSSPOT thrown around as a general term of abuse, and not used to mean "habitual drinker." Consider this tosspot schooled.