Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saturday, December 28, 2103, Frederick J. Healy


This one felt harder than our time would indicate it was, which could be at least partially due to Frannie filling in the gimmies like BORNTORUN (30A: 1975 Hit song about "tramps like us"), and leaving me the terrifying-looking stuff like 7D: #1 spoken-word hit of 1964 (RINGO) (Amazingly, this has nothing to do with Ringo Starr). Another reason that our time might have been on the "normal-for-a-Saturday" side is that she also filled in some of the tricky stuff, like RIPSNORTER (12D: Dilly) and UIES (10A: Some GPS suggestions, informally). I love that last one, but we don't use the ridiculous crutch of a GPS system, so we don't know whether or not they really suggest "uies."

There were many answers that we simply did not know, but fortunately all resulting crosses were fair (at least to us), so no squares were totally opaque. I was most worried about the NW, where 3D: Jonathan's wife in "Dracula" (MINA), 8D: "My Son Is a Splendid Driver" novelist, 1971 (INGE), and 9D: Castle of ____ (Hungarian tourist draw) (EGER), and 7D, raised above (heh), were all complete mysteries. Add to that the multiple possible abbreviations for 4D: A.L. East team, on sports tickers (BOS) (!) and the better-than-average clue for SSR (10D: Old map abbr.), and you're basically looking at totally blank, stacked tens. Yikes!

We came at it from the bottom, where, despite another black hole at 22A: Vino de ____ (Spanish wine designation) (PAGO), we were able to infer MOJAVE (24A: Santa Ana wind source) and bring out EDUCE (29A: Bring out), and from the "____VE" Frannie got ONLEAVE (5D: Like many pregnant women) (although I think "Like many new mothers" might have been more accurate. A friend of mine recently worked up until the very day before she gave birth!), and we were finally in. I guess, being a big eater, I was expecting something a little more "gut-busting" than JUMBOFRIES (1A: Gut-busting side) or ONIONRINGS (15A: Alternative to 1-Across), but I guess I should make allowances for the more moderate (normal?) eaters out there.

So anyway, what I'm trying to say is that it always felt like we were reaching out of our comfort zones in this one, but the effort largely paid off. I love many of the entries, and there was a ton of good clueing. Witness SMILEYFACE (51A: It's not drawn due to gravity) (no, to levity!), SENTIMENTS (54A: Pride and joy) (nice!), 56A: ANYONEELSE (56A: Question from a bully) (hilarious), NOSE (32D: Supporter of shades), and FRIDGE (6D: Where to get a cold comfort). Mr. Healy, go ahead and grab one, 'cause this is some nice work!

- Horace


  1. 48 mins.
    I always write very lightly on Saturday, but almost everything that I entered was correct the first time through. I'm very familiar with MINA (played by Winona Ryder in "Bram Stoker's Dracula"), but not with the others that you'd never heard of. I mean, I know of INGE, but not that he wrote "My Son Is A Splendid Driver." In addition to UIES and a couple of others that you mentioned, I liked 45A Key ring? (ATOLL) and 45D Devotional period? (AMEN). For some reason it took me awhile to get PIERCE (40A Break through), though it shouldn't have. What about 36A It may be said while wearing a toga (LETSPARTY)? Alas, I didn't star anything for being "blue" in this puzzle.

  2. There were so many things that I forgot to mention AMEN, which was great. Nice catch. We also liked ATOLL, and it took a while for us to see PIERCE, too, because I could only think of emERgE.