Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017, Damon Gulczinski


I couldn't believe I had COLPORTEUR correct, but all the crosses worked. Happily, when I filled in my final square at the crossing of EGAN and ASSN, I got the happy little tune. Clearly it comes from French, where it apparently means a peddler, and then got associated with religious literature. Definitely a new word for me.

Melbourne is in Florida, apparently, not Australia. That fooled me for a while. I enjoyed all three long across answers, but should the clue have had a "familiarly" attached to it for FLORIDATECH? The full name is Florida Institute of Technology. Not that that bothered me. I wouldn't have gotten it without most of the crosses. Meanwhile, FLEXITARIAN is lovely, and PALEBLUEDOT is of course, excellent.

DONTTHATBEATALL? I'd say. I love that phrase, and it's a wonderful 15-letter crossing answer.

The rest of the puzzle has some nice high points. 10D: Be subtly and snarkily insulting (THROWSHADE) is great and contemporary. EGOSURF has been seen a number of times by now in the puzzle, so it's a little less sparkling.

DIETETICS and ANTENATAL are all right. I don't know why it took me so long to figure out the latter.

1A: Honor in a big way (FETE) - C. Nothing special to start a Saturday.
Fave: CHARY (16A: Word that's its own synonym when its first two letters are replaced with "w") - such an involved clue! It also reminds me G&S, namely Iolanthe:

A plague on this vagary
I'm in a nice quandary
Of hasty tones
With dames unknown
I ought to be more chary...

Least fave: ASSN (20A: N.E.A. member?: Abbr.). Yeah. Abbreviated answer from an abbreviation, not improved much by the slightly clever clue.

I'm not sure if the puzzle is quite TOPSHELF, but I enjoyed it over all.

- Colum


  1. 37:50
    I had TOPNOTCH instead of TOPSHELF.
    Also, the CHARY clue threw me because for some reason I thought both of the first two letters got replaced with W.
    The rest went pretty smoothly, so not sure why it took 40 minutes but here we are.

  2. 40:55
    I probably wasted a good 10 minutes in the SW trying to remember Jim Abbott's name. In my defense, it was the Yankees and, thus, I take some solace for the mental block. But even so, it was a heck of story and I do remember that mild thaw 24 years ago in my Red Sox heart when it happened.

    Also, sports: I take issue with 60A: "One of two areas in a football line." Yes, the majority of offensive formations have two slots. But the way the clue is written it implies a categorical; like, two sets of goal posts, two end zones, 11 men on a side, etc. There is no rule requiring two slots. Field goal and punt formations have zero slots. Typical goal line and short yardage formations have no slots. Run-heavy offensives, including Ys and wildcats often stack the line and eschew wide receives in favor of, for example, double tight ends. The rule requires "at least 7 players on the line of scrimmage" and that can be either spread out with slots or tight without them.

    Also, while I'm at it, did anyone else dislike BOATS (48A: One making bank-to-bank transfers?)? Maybe the "?" in this case saves it, but BOATS is pretty generic for ferries and cargo ships.

  3. 32:56
    Well, Icarus, a bit too much explanation of the sports there for old Huygens, but that's OK. I will agree with you on BOAT. I wanted "eddy" or something certainly a bit more elegant for a Saturday. I've never heard of a FLEXITARIAN and will never make use of the term in any conversation. PALEBLUEDOT, and the Great Carl Sagan, are fantastic (did I mention I own three original paintings by the principal Cosmos artist?). I loved the clue for ANNOTATE (39A Gloss); that took a while to get, especially with BOER, ABBOT and COLPORTEUR in that corner. Fave? BOSOMY, of course!

  4. 30:45
    The SW was my undoing as well. I did, eventually, think of ABBOTT, but I had entered "closer" in 41D (Like Mars vis-a-vis Jupiter (NEARER)) and was loath to take it out. It didn't help that I guessed POLO for the "Great Trek figure," ignoring the fact that the date was five or six hundred years off. Sheesh! Anyway, I enjoyed much of this, despite my difficulties.

    1. I was amazed to pull ABBOTT immediately out of my memory upon seeing the clue. I used to read all sorts of books about unusual things that had happened in the history of baseball.