Saturday, December 1, 2018

Saturday, December 1, 2018, Ryan McCarty


Just my kind of Saturday puzzle - tough! A perfect ending to the Turn (Thursday through Saturday here at H&FdtNYTcpfCA).


On my first pass through, I put in several wrong answers, including "man" (ELY (6D: England's Isle of ____), "lego" (UNIT (8D: Building block), "mazda" (ALAMO (17A: "Drive happy" sloganeer), "adrep" (CELEB (20A: One may make Us money), and probably a few others. As a result, my first real progress came in the lower half, and from there I slowly clawed my way back up.

So many answers involved a little struggle. For "26D: Golfer's approach, often," I had chipSHOT before IRONSHOT, and for "64A: Doesn't do anything rash," I began with STAYSSAfE instead of STAYSSANE. But overcoming that sort of difficulty is just what makes a good Saturday puzzle so satisfying. By the time I got back up the NW corner and finally got OCEANLINER (15A: Carnival transport) (Great hidden capital!) I let out an audible sigh of relief!

The slightly super-sized 16x15 grid allowed for lots of long horizontals. PARTNERDANCING (38A: Activity involving a leader and a follower) seems a little awkward, but FITNESSCENTERS (39A: Elliptical settings) is unawkward and very well clued. BROGRAMMER (58A: Fratty Silicon Valley techie, stereotypically) is new to me, but is amusing to learn. The intersecting "head shot" clues - 36A: Head shot (BOTOXINJECTION) and 29D: People with great head shots? (SOCCERSTARS) - make this feel a little like it was made by a "bro-structor" (doesn't work as well) but the answers are both solid. AIRPORTBAR (62A: Fitting place to order craft beer?) was a bit of a stretch though. Are they thinking that "craft" in the clue can be seen as a play on "aircraft?" Hmmm...

Overall I found this to be a challenging, but rewarding solving experience. Thumbs up!

- Horace


  1. 27:59
    I agree with everything you've said (including needing to make many corrections through the course of the solve, like chipSHOT), except I had no problem with AIRPORTBAR. Sure, the clue is a bit forced, but the "?" allows for some liberty there, doesn't it? And, yes, I read aircraft. PARTNERDANCING seems a tad awkward to me, too. But for such a meaty grid with basically zero fill, that seems an excellent trade.

    And isn't this the second time HORACE has made it into a grid lately?

    1. Right! I meant to mention HORACE, but got carried away with the other stuff. Thanks!

  2. 16:03
    I didn't even notice the extra width! Things started out great with 1D, TOSCA, but guessing "man" for ELY definitely slowed it right back down again. Didn't help that I put Sri in for SIR. I really wanted STICKYRICE though, so that fixed it eventually, when I allowed it to. It annoyed me, because my family loves the cathedral in Ely, just down the road from where we lived for a year in Cambridge.

    Having INKBLOTTEST in place saved me from guessing seneCa for HORACE, which would have been very sad indeed. But I still needed other crosses. I had CIRCE, but it wasn't until HORNE fell in that the rest of the puzzle quickly followed.

    Very nice turn!