Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017, David C. Duncan Dekker

FWABOE or, more prosaically, DNF

Most of this puzzle went right along. SWIMMEET and SALMA got me into the north east. I threw FLEECE and TOMATOES right into the south east, and dropped COVERAGE and RAGTOP into the south west. The north west was the last corner to fall, and it didn't so much fall as crumble. The only two I had in there for most of the solving time were COTTo and KEPTtoIT. Both those minor problems became a major FWABOE catastrophe when combined with all the other stuff I didn't know in that quadrant. I entered COTTo because the masculine form of an adjective is the default choice when you don't know the gender of the noun being modified. And if you don't know your pro wrestlers, John CENo is as good as John CENA. The PTtS mess at 5D caused by KEPTtoIT didn't bother me because I had no idea what kind of NEA Mr. Dekker had in mind at 30A. The NEA I'm familiar with is the National Endowment for the Arts, and I'm pretty they don't get their money from PTAs, well, unless there's another kind of PTA? Anywho, that two-clue abbreviation combination was too much for this SIMP. I do agree that I should not have let OAo slide. but I was too caught up trying to decide what letter to choose for my last empty square up there. It was the cross between the so-clued alphabetically rhyming river and Mr. ODETS. I took "alphabetically" a little too literally and tried only letters that came after P. Having never heard of Mr. ODETS (I have since looked him up - apparently he wrote another crossword puzzle favorite, "Waiting for Lefty") this seemed like a fine idea. I didn't feel the least bit WYLE when I finally figured out where I went wrong. :(

Despite all my troubles, the puzzle was not without an air of ESCAPADE. I liked OAT for Wild thing? quite a bit. ALAKAZAM was another fun one, along with Pop enthusiast? (MOM) and Hard stuff to swallow (BOOZE). I'll add to this group QUIXOTE, which seems an improbable word, but I'm happy that it is one.

QUIXOTE brings us to the pangrammatical (?) nature of this puzzle. All twenty-six letters are here, some with bells on. There are more Z's in this puzzle than you'd find at a narcolepsy conference. Too soon? Plenty of Q's lined up to boot. I notice that the corner with the fewest "unusual" letters is the one I had the most trouble with. I also noticed that every letter but one appears in the bottom half of the puzzle, taking 34 and 37A and below as the halfway point. I see online that there is some debate about the value/joy/challenge in a pangram puzzle. I guess I come down on the PRO side (not actually a word in today's puzzle) even though people argue it can result in junky fill, but it can also get some rarely seen vocabuli into a grid.

Additional SHREWS analysis of this puzzle brings up the following points:
SMEARY is a terrible word, made more terrible by the clue: Like cream cheese on a bagel. Ick.
BSC is like a BS form of BS.
Crossing BOOZE and UZI seems like a bad idea.

~Frannie out [mic drop]


  1. 49:24 but didn't finish without a little help from Google.

    I got FUZZY and its crosses fairly early, and a while later BUZZOFF (I had figured on ....OFF for a while but tried other things before buzz). So I figured, sure, of course, lots of Z's. And later still, PIZZA, sure, lots of Z's.

    Before SHREWS I had wHaleS. And I tried SWIM???? (maybe SWIMtEam, I forget).

    I guess the biggest plus is that I did stick it out to the end of a Friday, mostly unassisted. Usually I don't have the time/patience.

  2. 25:39
    Boy that NW was tough. Somehow I pulled CENA out of my head (from other crosswords? Or was he on SNL a while ago? I think there was a wrestler on there who was actually quite funny...), and then PEEDEE from who knows where. Took me way too long to come up with EDKOCH. I kept thinking of mayors from Chicago (Daly) and Philadelphia (Berry), neither of whom fit.

    What is this, a triple pangram? I like all the high point value letters, and there are some lovely answers (BYGONE, GAZETTE, ESCAPADE, and others mentioned above, and I guess the terrible stuff is kept to a minimum. BSC is awful, though.

  3. 11:37
    This reminded me a lot of puzzle #8 at the ACPT. Fortunately I used the "C" clues for that one, but these felt more like "B" clues. Something must have clicked for me on this one, as I usually still have a corner or two left when Horace finishes but not today.

    Thanks Francis for pointing out the pangram which I had not realized until now.

    Looking forward to the Howard Barkin puzzle tomorrow.

  4. 43:24
    I agree with Frannie on both BSC and SMEARY, both of which bothered me as I realized that they were the correct answers. I buzzed right through this one, but was held up in the NE and E for probably twenty minutes. QUIZBOWL was nicely clued. This is the best and most fun pangram that I've ever solved because, mainly, of there being so, so many Zs, Qs and Ws. Amazing. BOOZE is great; I'll be swallowing some shortly during RHT*. (*Raucous Hot Tub)

  5. 10:17
    John CENA came immediately because he is the inspiration for a number of memes my older daughter delighted in a couple of years back. So the NW actually fell first. My hardest corner was the NE where I too wanted wHaleS for a while. BSC needed all crosses. Thank goodness for SALMA or I would have never figured it out.

    So many Zs and Qs!

    SMEARY I could have done without.