Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013, Andy Kravis and Victor Barocas



This one seemed easy in the fill and hard in the theme. That is, even with most of the theme material filled in, it still took some time to realize what was going on. Once we did, however, we thought it was a pretty good gag. My favorite, and the last one I figured out, was OCHNSSSTER (60A: Legendary Scottish swimmer, after 66-Across?) (LEMONDROPS (66A: Tart treats)). See what I mean? It's somewhat convoluted, but once you jam the letters of "lemon" back into that first one, you get the answer. Frannie wondered if getting to use horrible looking lines like "ochnssster" above, and EMNSHEHERDS (23A: Many service dogs, after 29-Across?) made it easier to keep the rest of the fill clean. I kind of doubted it, because the difficulty of making those things work, and then using another ten or eleven boxes on the other side to explain it and/or help it out, seems pretty tricky. Which is why the overall cleanliness of the rest of the fill seems so impressive. IACT (47A: "I don't know why ____ this way") being a notable exception (too bad they couldn't get one more space in there for "____ alea est"), but really, the rest is pretty solid. (OK, ANDA isn't all that great either, but the clue (8D: All that ____ bag of chips) makes up for it.)

We especially enjoyed IXNAYS (34A: Eighty-sixes) (Pig Latin is always a good idea), and SHELLAC (93A: Clobber) (as are amusing fighting terms)(See also: 92D: Scrap (TUSSLE)). I didn't know the world ORLE (91A: Shield border), but a friend's son wrote a book on heraldry, which was given to us, so perhaps I should have. "98A: Begins to wake" seems an interesting clue for STIRS. Not sure whether it's better or worse, easier or harder, than something like "roils" or "turns," but I mention it nonetheless, just because it caught my attention. And speaking of odd clues, howzabout 80D: Lead-in for physics ... and pieman? (META). Nice. We also enjoyed the interesting trivia in 113A: Only inanimate zodiac sign (LIBRA) and 24D: Book in which Moses is born (EXODUS).

Lastly, I'd just like to say that this might be the first time I've ever just laid in an answer to a "58D: Jackson-to-Birmingham dir."-type answer without any crosses and had it stick. (ENE). I'm not sure whether I should be happy that I got this one, or sad that it usually takes me so long with all the others...

- Horace


  1. 54:51
    This one wasn't too tough, once I figured out the theme, that is. One of the more interesting ones that you mentioned, OCHNSSSTER that goes with LEMONDROPS, is one that I still can't put the LEMON back into to make sense since I don't know that person whatsoever. The rest of them I get. For some reason, EXURBS (30D They're way out) took a little while, and it shouldn't have since I've seen it many times in crosswords (though I've never used it in life). I second the IXNAYS comments, and I like seeing things like IDLOVETO (82D Enthusiastic reply) just because it's hardly ever obvious. I knew the LIBRA thing, as well as EXODUS, right off the bat, but don't understand your reference to the IACT, which I assume could be some Latin thing. I also noticed that NOLA (36D Saints' home, for short) has appeared again. I believe that Horace mentioned it the last time it showed up as being something he hadn't seen. I hadn't either, but his previous mention of it allowed me to fill it in immediately this time.

  2. The legendary Scottish swimmer is none other than ol' Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. And yes, if ever I did claim not to know it, NOLA is common knowledge now.

    Lastly, the Latin phrase to which I was alluding is Caesar's famous "Iacta alea est," "the die is cast," which he uttered, supposedly, after leading his army across the Rubicon and into the boundaries of the city of Rome. This was forbidden, and by it he indicated that he was taking over by force.

  3. I was stuck looking at _MN__E_RDS for the first theme clue, wondering where I had gone wrong, and confused why dogs would have anything to do with grapes (expect that they're poisonous to them if eaten), when it struck me, and away the rest of the puzzle went in quick order. And who could forget those famous circus leaders, RUMDBILEY? It was fun and I enjoyed it. I also liked the clue "Marx without much to say."

  4. AHHH! The Loch Ness Monster. I just thought it was some odd Scottish name belonging to an Olympic swimmer that was well known to Horace and his brothers.