Friday, December 24, 2021

Friday, December 24, 2021, Evan Kalish

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! We were lucky enough this morning to wake up to a nice blanket of snow on the ground. It's not every year in Albany that we can have a white Christmas.

A very lovely and smooth themeless for this Friday by Mr. Kalish. I had the NW corner filled in pretty quickly, even though I guessed fellBACK initially. But I switched once I saw 1D: Sequencing locale (DNALAB). There's a pretty crossing of ANKHS and WRIGHT with all those consonants in a row. Unfortunately, I put in AFRIKAaner instead of AFRIKANERS, which meant I didn't have a good exit strategy from the corner. The former relates to the language, not the demonym.

Mr. Goosen playing a game I don't much care about

I next worked the NE and SW corners. I liked IMOVERIT very much, and 15A: Something that gets passed around a lot (MEME) is not in fact referring to our current public health situation.

I knew what 32D: Question that cannot be answered if its answer is "no" (YOUAWAKE) was supposed to be (how many questions are there that work like that? I guess "Are you here?" is another one). I really really wanted the answer to be "U up?" But, alas, not enough letters.

Once I had both corners in place, I finally saw YEAHABOUTTHAT, a great answer right in the middle of the puzzle. I worked through the middle, getting LOWBALLERS and 14D: Fast fashion (TRACKSUITS), which corrected my mistake in the NW, and allowed me to see KEEPACLOSEEYEON.

I finished in the SE corner. I was mildly alarmed by 53A: Gained some courage (GREWASPINE). Was the NYT going to go full modern and allow "grew a pair" to grace its puzzle? I breathed a sigh of relief to see it had not stooped to such a level.

It took me a while to get that 51A: Ear hair? (TASSEL) was referring to ears of corn. And we ended on a seasonal note with 58A: Yule log? (NICELIST). 

- Colum

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