Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013, Brad Wilber


A lovely Friday offering, and one that I was almost ready to leave for dead because of the three-proper-noun cross in the SW, but we took a stab with ORSINO (57A: "If music be the food of love ..." speaker in "Twelfth Night"), and got it right. A cousin who stayed with us overnight thought that LORI (48D: Loughlin or Petty of Hollywood) rang a faint bell, but DUSE (49D: Italian actress Eleonora), was unknown. It was, however, a plausible Italian name.

Aside from all that, though, this was a fun puzzle to plow through. Lots of horrible-looking partial fill as we went along, like _BJR_NC_ and _AL_ENHE_, but eventually things came into better focus. Some fill, like VELVETELVIS (43A: Classic kitschy wall hanging) went in immediately (because, as the cousin said "When "Dogs Playing Poker" didn't fit..."). Others, like CLAWCRANE (22A: Arcade game prize grabber) (knew it was some kind of crane or claw, but didn't think of using both) and BRASSERA (54A: Pre-W.W. I in automotive history) (? Didn't know there was much of an automotive history before WWI!) were slower in coming. Still, though, there's almost no cruddy crosswordese (save, maybe, ULNA and ACER (yuck)), and there were tons of unusual entries. SMELTROE (34D: Orange garnish for a sushi roll), TORTREFORM (20A: Challenge to ambulance chasers), THWART (45D: Block), and many others.

Frannie knew that a "fiacre" was an old type of carriage, but she was not aware that the name was associated with a PATRONSAINT (24A: Fiacre, to taxi drivers). According to the Wikipedias, St. Fiacre is most renowned as the patron saint of gardeners. Here is what it has to say about the saint and taxis:

The connection between Saint Fiacre and taxi drivers arose because the Hotel de Saint Fiacre in Paris, France, rented carriages, usually to travel to the hospice at Saint-Fiacre, Seine-et-Marne. People who had no idea who Fiacre was referred to the small hackney coaches as "Fiacre cabs", and eventually as "fiacres". 

An interesting puzzle, and a good toughness for a Friday. Onward to Saturday!

- Horace

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