Friday, January 5, 2024

Friday, January 5, 2024, David P. Williams

A very tough Friday themeless for us today, with a classic pinwheel shape. I took a good deal longer than my typical time, as every portion of the puzzle put up a good fight.

On my first run through the clues, I had a few answers entered, but never enough to gain a major foothold. I was glad for my Gilbert and Sullivan knowledge for 24D: ____ far niente (pleasant idleness) (DOLCE); see Iolanthe, first act finale, where W.S. rhymes a fair number of Italian phrases. I thought that I would get going here because of my cerebrovascular anatomy knowledge with 27A: The brachiocephalic trunk branches from it (AORTA). But no.

My first long answer was 32A: They beep when tested (SMOKEALARMS). Our modern versions yell "Fire! Fire!" Very scary when they accidentally go off at 4 AM...

The SW corner gave me some purchase, finally. POL and GOSOLO led to ENSLER and PELE, and I had more of a chunk of squares filled in. 32D: Deceive, especially to avoid responsibility for something (SHINEON) was unknown to me. It makes me think of Pink Floyd more than anything else. 31D: One clever enough to win every argument ... but not clever enough not to (SMARTASS) is a great clue.

JONAS Brothers

As is 31A: Innovation of the 1920s that's still spoken of with wonder today (SLICEDBREAD). As in "The greatest thing since..." Hah! I had ILLBEDAmNED first, but quickly changed the M to an R to allow CREME.

The SE corner was attacked with brute force. Without much to go on, I felt that SPEEDY was likely to be correct, and was convinced with CRANE. I know of Alan THICKE but couldn't pick his face out of a lineup. YOINKED is a great word, and everybody loves SRIRACHA.

The NW corner was my final area, and here I had nothing to go on. Finally, the ____EAD led me to think of EASYREAD, and the Y in the middle of 4D gave me STYLE. I have to watch my tendency to immediately latch on to possible answers, and then my brain stops being AGILE, and I'm stuck with American "cheese" rather than LEAGUE.

- Colum


  1. You weren't the only one Colum. For the first time in a long while, I was unable to finish without assistance, after a 20+ minute struggle. Hardest crossword for me, I think, since #5 at last year's ACPT.

  2. Beautifully constructed and wonderfully clued, I thought.

  3. This was a brute. I, too, finished in the NW, but I had to close it for a while and come back to it. Somehow, somewhere, I think the brain keeps working on it. Tough, but satisfying.

    1. And this is Horace. Not sure why Firefox won't keep me signed in... sigh.