Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013, Martin Ashwood-Smith


Overall, not that fun. Slow to start, and then the bottom filled in first. 60A: Light alternative (FOURWAYSTOPSIGN) was a good one. And ASSES (Dipsticks) was unusual. 52A: Catcher of the rye? (BIB) was cute.

A lot of the time I felt like we were guessing, TODS, LAFF, MOVEOFF, AMERCE??, RENE, SESS, ATPAR?, MASHA?. None of those really clicked in, if you know what I mean. I didn't know 29A: Atlas offerings were AUTOMOBILETIRES. And GROVESOFACADEME seems a little "too, too," too. 17A: Not have a hunch? (STANDUPSTRAIGHT) was clever, but the crosses were, "Meh." We would have had a hard time coming up with PASDE (1D: ____ - Calais (French department)) if we had not just watched "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" last week. It's called "Welcome to the Sticks" in English, and it was a fun little movie. I thought I heard that Steve Carrell was going to be in an American remake, but I never saw that come out. Or perhaps it's still in production, I don't know.

But back to the puzzle. There were some funny clue/answer pairs. 10D: Cold war grp.? (AMA), 12D: Military brass (BUGLE), and others I've already mentioned, but there was too much junk to make this into an enjoyable fight.

- Horace


  1. TITT (Worked on it for 2:17:36.)
    Well, I came close, but had TAKEOFF instead of MOVEOFF (I figured paving over nature uglifies). I thought that AUTOMOBILETIRES ended in "TIRES" but that wouldn't have helped me with the answer, and I didn't get GROVESOFACADEME either. Sue looked at it for a little bit, as did your father who suggested AGUA for 29D. Frustrating, but I did fill in all but a few of the clues, so maybe next week!
    (Telegram's Saturday puzzle time 10:15.)

  2. Well, as I said, it wasn't all that fun. I'm glad you got yesterday's done. That was much more enjoyable. Here's hoping for a better Saturday next week!

  3. OK, I am writing this without reading anything above. Rare for a Saturday, I sat down at the kitchen table, started my stopwatch, and commenced work on the puzzle. Many Saturdays I do the puzzle over several sittings, but today, after some initial difficulty, I completed it in 33:23. The southwest gave me my foothold. LEAFS, ALLOY, and FLEUR lead to the two long crosses, and then I slowly worked my way up the puzzle. The northwest was the last to fall. I really enjoyed this one. My favorite clue might have been 39-across "Large wire." Also got a kick out of "First moment," "Sort who needs to button up," "Cold war grp."--brilliant-- and "Crew at a pileup." This was a really nice puzzle: hard, but completely solvable. All of the six long acrosses are well-known phrases.

  4. Sorry, that should be eight acrosses, which makes the accomplishment all the more impressive. I did the puzzle in pen--as always--and my one write-over was indeed at MOVEOFF. I wrote in takeoff first too, but gradually it became obvious that "Ivory tower setting" had to be GROVESOFACADEME. Somehow I had even convinced myself that TAR could work for "Uglify," (which I kind of think is a cool clue). MAR is better, I guess. There are really some high-quality downs through those four middle acrosses: CROSSING, BOTANYBAY, STIMULATE, STAMPS stand out. Even the common URNS gets an unusual cluing. I can forgive the guy his TODS.

  5. I'm warming up to this constructor. As I mentioned yesterday, this syndicated puzzle ran at the same time as the regular NYT puzzle, so you've got another MA-S puzzle to look forward to in five weeks. And the newer one I liked better than this one.

    Your time is quite impressive. You've definitely got more puzzling experience than we do.

    The clues you mention are nice. I liked the "Sort who needs to button up" being followed by "buttoned up." Ashwood-Smith is a clever guy, and a good constructor. He's rarely in our wheelhouse, but that's a good thing sometimes.