Friday, March 1, 2024

Friday, March 1, 2024, Julian Xiao

Well, that's more like it! After yesterday's too easy Thursday, I was up for a Friday challenge, and got it with some great fill and fun clues. The central trio of long answers are really strong, and they cross a number of very long answers including the grid-spanning central down answer.

I found my foothold in earnest in the SW corner. Before that, I had some answers here and there, and even a chunk of the NE corner in place, but couldn't connect things well enough. I don't know if I've actually seen the SKI Vermont advertising, but it made sense, along with IRKED and 60A: One may be stolen or planted (KISS). Given ALASKA, and then the fun 37D: Greeting that contains another greeting backward (ALOHA) - that's "hola" inside of it, I was off and running.

Every time I see a clue like 36D: Capital on the Mediterranean (TRIPOLI), I have to consider the possibility they're talking about money names, but not here. 33D: Where you might run into some real characters? (THEMEPARK) is such a good QMC. They should use this one to teach the concept in Crossword Puzzle school. 

Creeping THYME

is a great answer. I've watched some video compilations, and often I fail at the instructions. THEMSTHEFACTS is good, although I've more frequently heard "Them's the breaks." That didn't fit, sadly. And 37A: Refrain from going on road trips? (AREWETHEREYET) could also be "what makes you refrain from going on road trips." Am I right?

A fun pair of "Shortening that omits "gram"" clues lead to KILO and INSTA. I also love the clue for OPERA. Hah! Nice work cluing ROM and SCI in interesting ways as well.

So how about the clue for 8D: One who has ways of making you talk ... (SPEECHTHERAPIST). Great non-QMC. Fun twist on the old spy film torture trope. And yet, why is the ellipsis there at the end? I wondered if there was going to be a second clue related in some way, but there isn't. No biggie, just a little odd.

- Colum

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