Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013, Byron Walden and Brad Wilber


Tell us, did you also get bogged down in the NE? Frannie thinks that others will just rip through that quadrant, but I'm not so sure. I still don't really understand CLUSTERED (11D: Nearly set?). I kept thinking of concrete, but you couldn't say that that ever gets "clustered." I suppose you could say that runners at the start of a race are "clustered" around the starting line before "Set" is called, but is that fair cluing? What, dear reader, am I missing? Also, it didn't help that we had "moAn" for 11A: Kvetch (CRAB) for quite a while, and "ACTiii" instead of ACTTWO (24A: Setting for many reprises). Luckily, though, I knew TAMARIND (33A: Ingredient in Worcestershire sauce) from a GAMES magazine scavenger hunt that ran probably 30 years ago, at least. I think they asked for a food product that included both anchovies and tamarind. It's funny what things stick in your brain. Anyway, Frannie finally got the very nice ALLOWANCE (13D: Minor payment), and I pulled LILO (15A: Disney title character surnamed Pelekai) out of nowhere, and then we still fought for probably twenty minutes before I got UGLY (18A: Hostile). I then put in BOYWONDER (14D: Early riser?) because it fit, not because I understood the clue. I actually removed it before handing it over to Frannie, because I couldn't defend it and didn't want to embarrass myself. About a minute later, she handed it back to me with the "Well Done" message displayed. SHOW (21A: Lose one's place?) (hmm... I get it (horse racing), but that's a toughie) and the aforementioned CRAB were, I think, the last to fall.

In spite of our difficulties, and, really, also partly because of them, we enjoyed this puzzle. A good Saturday should have you scratching your head for a while. There was plenty of fun stuff, too, starting right at 1A: 1960s sitcom character with the catchphrase "I see nothing!" (SGTSCHULTZ). That went in immediately. As did TATIN (3D: Tarte ____ (French apple dessert). All that watching of Jacques P├ępin is finally paying off! And speaking of Jacques, he would surely scoff at anyone making omelets using a hinged pan! (31D: Cookware that's often hinged (OMELETPAN)).

I never remember that 15A: Pitchblende, e.g. is a URANIUMORE until all the crosses pretty much force it. Love the words PAEAN (26A: Elated outpouring) and BUSHWHACK (29D: Clear one's way, in a way), and HATH (51A: Verb in the world's first telegraph message) was a fun bit of trivia. ("What hath God wrought?") "Wrought" would have been better, frankly. I'll put that into the notebook for our future crossword constructions.

I thought the Watergate was a hotel, not an apartment building, but I could be wrong about that. And if I were doing this alone, I'd still be scratching my head about ARGYLESOCK (61A: Accent for plus fours, often). Frannie tells me that the "plus fours" are a type of pant. According to the Wikipedia, "Plus-fours are breeches or trousers that extend 4 inches below the knee, and thus four inches longer than traditional knickerbockers, hence the name." So there you go.

Overall, a lot of interesting, fun, and hard clues with very little slop. A good Saturday.

- Horace


  1. I agree with you, Horace. The NE made little to no sense. I don't get either CLUSTERED (I had pLaSTERED for quite a while, which would make a little more sense) or BOYWONDER. I got ALLOWANCE, which forced ACTTWO, but other than that, it was a fight all the way. I will admit to a DNF on this one, because I have little patience once I'm completely stuck. I don't think I would have gotten it. I liked the NW and SE corners, which all came relatively easily. I was stuck on BInGeS for BIOGAS (never heard of it) in the SW, and INTotALIs for INTERALIA. Ah, well. I loved the crossing of MRMET with XRATING, an excellent use of unexpected consonants.

  2. BINGES would have been great, if a bit oblique, for 29A: Result of some fermentation. And BOYWONDER must be "wunderkind," but the clue for that is just as tough. So maybe BINGES would have been fine. And "in totalis" would have been just as good as INTERALIA for 30D: Latin condenser.

    I don't really like BIOGAS, but I think we've seen it at least once before in a puzzle. Not that that makes it right, of course...

  3. And plastered would have gone well with binges. Maybe I just needed some of the hard sauce.

  4. I found this one fairly easy for a Saturday. I put in SGTSCHULTZ right off the bat, had good feelings about the puzzle and the constructor, and cruised through without any major hiccups while the kids and Cindi were decorating the tree. BOYWONDER, I think, is a little better than CLUSTERED, but both are fair. "Early riser" implies one who rises to excellence at an early age in life. "Nearly set"--cue the groan-- means "set near to one another." Much good stuff in here, as you note. My one write-over was changing the R and D in "Mr. Red" to M and T. Must be the influence of my big brother! Fun one for moi.

  5. Aaaahhhh.... "Nearly set." I knew it had an explanation. They're getting more and more cryptic. We've got to be more prepared for those! And really, I have no problem with that clue now.


  6. Yes, I see it. I'm not pleased with it, though.