Friday, March 31, 2023

Friday, March 31, 2023, Rich Norris

Tough Friday going into the ACPT! If this doesn't act as a good warmup for puzzle solving, I'm not sure what will.

So many missteps along the way contributed to an extended solve. I started with guessing "bteam" for 1D: No first-stringer (SCRUB), and then "ahead" at 19A: Slightly leading (AHEAD). I took both of those out nearly immediately, opting for "usone" for 2D: It ends near Venice (THEPO). Boy, was I way off. I was thinking of US 66. My answer is entirely along the East Coast. Even when I solved the whole puzzle, I looked at the actual answer here and wondered what the P.O. was. Nope: it's the famous Italian river.


I broke in for realsies at 44D: Senator, e.g., in brief (NHLER), along with the gimmes LANA and NEVE. EYECONTACT went in, and I finally felt like I had a foothold. I couldn't believe 61A: Show first performed during 1994's Eurovision Song Contest (RIVERDANCE). Turns out it wasn't Ireland's official entry in the contest, but rather an interval act. In fact, Sweden won that year, but Ireland came in third, so good on you.

Rutland Barrington as the original Pooh Bah

I always mess up LEDS and LcDS. Fortunately, INTOODEEP was clear enough to correct the mistake. I very much liked 28A: Plastic keys? (TOYPIANO) and its subsequent gimme at 31D: Iconic 28-Across player (SCHROEDER). That made the entire SE corner much easier. 40D: Row house? (EMBASSY) would have been a tough get otherwise.

Knowing that Albert Camus was born in ALGERIA helped the NW corner as well. I originally had autoRACER, but was able to overcome that.

So a struggle all the way through, but a good one. 11:52.

- Colum


  1. For me, this didn't seem so much like a struggle as a slower, but relatively steady, Friday solve. Sure, I came in at 34:30, which is atypically slow for me for a Friday (usually around 15, I'd say), but it mostly seemed fine and fair. There were a few toughies for me: MCCREA, VAL, HASEK. But the well-placed gimmes saved the day. A good challenge, which doesn't always happen on a Friday, so I'll take it.

  2. Just seeing the Rich Norris byline made me smile and his work, unsurprisingly, not only didn't disappoint but made my smile wider. Loved the SCHROEDER/TOY PIANO connection, the cuddly TEDDY BEAR, of course CANTAB, and so much more.

  3. I'm here! Have been traveling on business and have missed the last few crosswords, so just caught up. This was a toughie! But I got it done in 9:20 so that bodes reasonably well I suppose. I didn't know CANTAB and I had AUTORACER in there for a while, which slowed me down...Colum I am sorry I won't see you this year - I'll to represent, and look forward to seeing you next year....