Saturday, February 3, 2018

Saturday, Febraury 3, 2018, Sam Ezersky and Byron Walden


Everything was going along fine until the end in that SW corner. I came up against TOR_I and KU_U crossing A_R_AM. Both of those crossings were completely opaque to me. And I've never heard the term AIRDAM before. So I stared for a while, before realizing that anything would be a complete guess, and looked them up. I have to add KUDU to my list of crossword gazelles and antelopes.

Wow, though. This is a challenging puzzle! I broke in at 57A: Like many people on January 1 (HUNGOVER). That's how long it took for me to feel comfortable with an answer. I was able to work up the E side of the grid with the excellent TRAVELBLOG and SPICERACK.

I call another foul though with 9A: Having many openings (GAPPY). Huh? Has anyone ever said this? I think not. But I very much liked GOASKANYONE and SOBSISTERS. When you have such nice long answers and such a low word count, I suppose you have to have some compromises.

At this point, I was able to break open the NW corner. 1A: Toilet paper? (HALLPASS) is very nice, and deserves an A- for clue and answer. PIBBXTRA is a beautiful answer. I don't think it's sold in markets around my home, though. That answer crossing LGBTRIGHTS is worth the price of entry by themselves.

The middle section of the W side of the grid I was very proud to figure out. I had put SOFIA in as the only Balkan capital of 5 letters I could recall. Then I guessed the first part of WESTCORK, figured ALICEFAYE had to be correct, and finally NATGEO became clear.

Clearly this puzzle is supported by the beautiful long answers. I feel those two crossings I mentioned at the start made the whole thing suspect in my book, but I'm sure others will disagree.

- Colum


  1. 18:14
    The last thing we entered was the "D" in AIRDAM. I was confident about the AIR___ part, but danced around it until the end. So KUDU and AIRDAM were educated guesses.

    I agree about GAPPY. That's pretty weak. But the real foul for me is PAYAFEE vs. 36A: Be charged. Sure, the charging and the paying are two sides of the same equation, perhaps, but they are fundamentally different actions. I mean, Be charged and oweAFEE would work, as would cluing it as "Covered a charge." Fortunately, we had all the crosses pretty much in place and had no option other than begrudgingly entering PAYAFEE.

    I was not fooled for very long by 35D: Sombrero, e.g. and smiled at the fond recollection of many at the Americana during my college years.

  2. 28:57 (FWOE)
    Just last night, believe it or not, I typed ALICEFAYE into eBay to see if anybody else had (and was selling) the 1930's colorized publicity photo that Amy found behind another photo in an old frame. How crazy is that?

    Tried "hand-eye" before EYEHAND, and AIRrAM before AIRDAM, but I should have known KUDU, because I have been recently doing a crowd-sourced photo-trap identification thing where KUDUs occasionally appear. Derp.

    I've got no beef with PAYAFEE. Or GAPPY, for that matter. Both are understandable. I like SOBSISTERS less, actually. I've never heard that before and I don't love it. And what am I missing with "Powerful Russian" being OLIGARCH? Why Russian?

  3. Oh, I forgot to mention my favorite clue: 41A: Things held in a cannonball (KNEES). That took me so, so, long.

  4. 77:55
    I almost took a DNF at around the 1 hour mark, but kept plugging away. My problems, like Frannie's, came in the SW. That corner took me a full forty minutes or so. When I finished, I looked KUDU up in my dictionary, fully expecting to find "kuru" near where I was looking, but no, KUDU is a real thing! AIRDAM is not a known term to me, nor is SOBSISTERS. Nice that KETELONE is over HUNGOVER, which is over STAGGERS. I tried cokezeRo where PIBBXTRA goes at first, but nothing worked. Anyway, finished with no errors. Surprising.

    1. Whoops...I meant "like Colum's," not Frannie, who no doubt finished the puzzle with no trouble at all.