Friday, March 13, 2020

Friday, March 13, 2020, Alex Eaton-Salners

17:51, FWOE

Today's puzzle theme celebrates National PANDA day (March 16th) with a very nice grid depicting the face of a panda. If I'm honest, however, I'm a little down right now on words that start with 'pand.' Starting Monday ATNINE, my co-workers and I are all required to work from home for indefinite period of time. ACK!

But I digress. We get two nice long theme answers in parallel Downs in the east and west: BLACKANDWHITE and WASHINGTONZOO. I like to think SPIRITANIMAL, another nice long down, is bonus theme material. And no self-respecting panda-themed crossword puzzle would be complete if it didn't also contain the classic black-and-white treat, OREOS. :)


In case you're wondering, I FWOE'd over in the far west. I didn't know "Tony-winning actress for 'Miss Saigon'" (LEASALONGA) and the spelling of her name makes it a little difficult to guess. PLUS, I wanted eeK for "Yikes!" - so much so that I ended with eCK after PESCETARIANS (People who do not eat meat but do eat fish) forced out the middle 'e'. Derp.

Some of the non-theme clues were quite colorful including:
"Something drawn for sport" (BOWANDARROW) - I don't know if I would have come up with this one without the downs!
It has a lot of competition on TV (ESPN) - see what happened there?
Good name for a financial advisor (IRA) - ha.
Put on (GAIN) - very good
Strain to recall? (ECOLI) - groan
Rivers of New York City (JOAN) - nice hidden capital

I also liked VERISMO, which I've never heard of, but was happy to learn, and SOANDSOS, which is funny on at least two levels.

Let's hope things will start to look up for everyone in the not-too-DISTAL future.



  1. I was psyching, preparing, and pushing myself for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament since last Spring. I guess I will not be going after all.


  2. 19:44 (FWOE)
    Same FWOE as Frannie! Although I tried an "i" there, thinking that was a reasonable spelling of the down, a person of whom I, also, have never heard. I was able to fill the VERIS__ in at 1A with downs and a reasonable assumption for the across beginning, but the ____MO was a little slower, especially the "M" since MUR (6D Wall: Fr.) is not part of my knowledge base. Nice theme, and excellent grid. I originally misspelled NEAPOLITAN as NEoPOLITAN until getting the amusing IRA for the cross, and initially entered smile at 17A National ___ Day (March 16 observance, appropriate to this puzzle), thinking of Harvey Ball of Worcester MA and looking at the smile on the PANDA's face, but once I got BLACKANDWHITE I recognized what the face for what it was.

  3. Wow, I whiffed on that same square! I was having a heck of a time in that whole area, especially the (dubious) spelling of PESCETARIAN, so once I had a reasonable name for the actress--(vita breve) LEiSA LONGA-- I didn't reconsider iCK. Horace, thanks to the Tour de France I avoided another possible misstep! The Tour has finished many times on the "Mur de Bretagne," a very steep, short slope in some town or other. This was not all that fun. The shape of the thing annoyed me, for one thing. Too many three-letter words. Some have claimed that nobody calls the US home of the Pandas the "WASHINGTON ZOO," but if it's all right with Donald Fagen, it's peachy with moi. " . . . and I've been in the Washington Zoo, and in all my travels as the facts unravel I've found this to be true . . ." Enjoyed the cluing of SOL, for once.

  4. Also, this has come up several times recently, but never in my life have I heard SOANDSO used in a negative sense. The few times I've encountered it, it just means "some nobody," or some such thing. The speaker in "I'm Just a Lucky So and So" is not a dastard by any means.