Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014, James Mulhern


Another tough, tricky puzzle! Lots of great clues in here, and lots of ways to go wrong. I put in "looS" for IANS (5D: Johns of Britain), which might have contributed to the NW being the last to fall today. I kept doubting it, but it seemed so right… I even took it out to put in ANOMALY (14A: It's not normal) at one point, but I ended up taking out the correct answer again to put back the wrong one! Finally, Frannie got ONETOOMANY (2D: Drink that often makes a person sick) (reminds me of the classic George Burns joke - "It only takes one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is, I can't remember if it's the thirteenth or the fourteenth."), and MOTORCYCLE (3D: Road hog) (nice), and then ANOMALY had to be right. ZOMBIE (1A: Body that doesn't remain at rest) (I had "mObilE" in there for a while) was also slow to come, but is a nice pair with the lovely clue 26D: Restin' piece (TAPS). In the lower half of that section, I plunked down TACITUS (39A: Writer of the ethnography "Germania") without hesitation or crosses, and ATO (19A: ____ B) seemed almost too easy, but for a long time, that's all we had there. Never heard of ROCCO (27A: Chef DiSpirito), but after a while, it was all that made sense.

There was very little junk here, save, perhaps, the unclassy classic ELHI (42D: Primary and secondary, briefly), but it's nice to have such a gimme on a Saturday. I didn't love MUTISM (10D: Refusal to speak), nor WORDOFGOD for 8D: Bible. If ever a clue called for a question mark!… Also, the Americanos that I know contain espresso and water. I don't know what kind has SODA (20A: Ingredient in an Americano). And finally, I would have preferred either WNBA for LPGA (36A: Org. for female shooters), or a slightly different wording. Do golfers really "shoot?" Well, I suppose they "shoot for the pin," but it seems a stretch, even for Saturday.

But I digress. The cluing was, as stated earlier, on the whole, very clever - 68A: Producing zip (STERILE), 15D: Demonstrate a wide range on a range? (YODEL), 18A: Rare electee (WRITEIN), and 46A: Get off the drive, say (DELETE), to cite just a few. And who doesn't love a nice "Ninny" crossing of NUMBSKULL and BOOB?

It was a fight all the way, but that's just what we're looking for on a Saturday morning. Very nice.

- Horace


  1. 55 mins, but I'll claim a DNF because I looked up ROCCO to get me going. I too had looS originally, although I thought of IANS early on. And I also had major in for ELTON originally. And I agree that LPGA seems misclued. I rather enjoyed WORDOFGOD, which gave me entree to the NE. I always hate the directional answers, like SSW, which are essentially impossible to know, and so are only enterable through crosses. Loved YODEL, AWOL, TAPS, RAINOUT. Funny that you entered TACITUS without a thought; I just gave AMYTAN's new novel to Hope for xmas, so that was an immediate enter. Didn't help much... DRLAURA I didn't like. I had the URA, but couldn't make anything work for some time. How are SUPERSTARS "people people"? Oh, and I wanted EBOLA for ECOLI. Ah well.

  2. The "People people" has a hidden capital, I think, and refers to the magazine. And funny that you complained about SSW, because in the Sunday puzzle, I actually knew the direction for once!

  3. I figured it out last night! It's funny, I hardly think of People as a valid magazine anymore. Isn't Us and other like titles more the celeb gossip route nowadays? I dislike the directions, but they are usually relatively easy to figure out (only takes one letter usually).

  4. DNF (finally. I have to move on with my life.)
    I was thinking ZOMBIE , but couldn't let go of looS. I'd never heard that Burns quote, but it's great. I couldn't get ONETOOMANY and didn't read or know of "Germania" (I only read his "Annals" so far), so I couldn't plunk in TACITUS. I starred 41A Get out of the blasted state? (SOBERUP), but felt that it may not have needed a question mark. I also starred 26D Restin' piece? (TAPS) - what's with all of the question marks??? - and 33D People people (SUPERSTARS) because I thought it was a great hidden capital. Finally, I starred 48D Habitual high achiever? (STONER) because that's excellent, though it has a question mark also.

  5. I tend to agree with you and ET59, who has suggested that at least on Saturdays, all question marks be stricken.