Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013, James Mulhern


This puzzle put itself at a disadvantage right away by starting with a clue that referred to another answer, but we came around to it in time. Loads of misdirection, as there often is on a Saturday, but do you ever feel like you can sometimes get into a groove by just starting with that as a premise? Take 50A: Key setting (OCEAN), for example. You see that clue on a Saturday and "lock" doesn't even enter your mind. Maybe that's a bad example, because "key" itself is almost crosswordese, and it's frequently given a tricky clue. Same thing for OBIS (34D: Geishas often draw them). You see the word "Geisha," and you immediately think "obi." How 'bout 57A: Universal work (MOVIE). Today, we saw the "hidden capital" for what it was, and put it in. I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say here, except that sometimes you're in the groove and sometimes you're not.

Perhaps the trickiest clue today for us was 61A: Evidence of having worn thongs (SANDALTAN). Frannie got that one, not because she wears thongs on the beach, but because she is more familiar with summer footwear terminology: "sandals;" "flip-flops;" "espadrilles;" "huaraches;" etc. Although honestly, she tells me now that she was using the aforementioned technique, and immediately went to places other than undergarments.

In the category of "tricky clues that kept us guessing for a while longer," you may add 10D: Fryer seen at a cookout? (BUGZAPPER) (very nice!) and 39D: Open love? (ZERO) (ditto). We didn't know RAMEAU (2D: Bach contemporary), STU (45A: Sportscaster Nahan with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame), or that PLAT meant an 31A: Area map (it can also be a verb!), but EMMASTONE (17A: "The Help" co-star, 2011) is always a pleasure, and AEGIS (15D: Backing) is a real nice word. Also kind of loved TADA (55D: Drumroll follower), so... decent Saturday.

- Horace

p.s. We enjoyed remembering our old college friend "Skegger" when Frannie filled in SKEG (48A: Keel extension). Skegger, if you're out there, Hi!


  1. Loved this puzzle! It skewed easy except for almost the entire SE corner. As you say, so much misdirection there. First, I want to say how much I wanted "SANDybutt" for "Evidence of having worn thongs," even though it doesn't really work with the plural. How about "SANDybums"? "Get out of practice" was good, but I got that fairly early. Would have been better without the damned question mark. "Unrefined type" threw me. I had "ore" there for quite a while. "Feet with rhythm" should have been easy since I thought of IAMBS immediately, but the aforementioned "ore" kept me from writing it in. "Key setting" was indeed tough for me. The one in the ocean was the third definition I considered strongly. Lock and music preceded that one. "Stockholder's group" (another gratuitous Q-mark!) and "Kick back" stumped me for a time, but after the fact it seems like the latter should have been easier. As I reflect and look over my sheet now, I see that it is a veritable bonanza for the punctuation marks I hate so much. "Open love?' is another one. Really liked 62-Across, "Little one's are calves." I also didn't know RAMEAU--I wonder if our resident classical music listener did?--but the cross with EMMASTONE, which seems like a possible Natick, is eminently gettable. The only other option for a normal name "Erma" would create a word that doesn't look at all French. Although I suppose if you didn't know ANAIS Nin, "Esme" would be a possibility. Finally, yes, who the hell IS STU Nahan?? You'd think a 45-year follower of sports would have heard of him somewhere or other.

  2. Wow, just googled STU Nahan. I guess we do know the guy, but maybe not by name. He was the ring announcer in all of the Rocky movies. Also had a bit role in the original Brian's Song. Other than those and a couple other movie roles, he was just an L.A. sportscaster. Fair dude to put in a puzzle?

  3. Untimes - finished with my mother, who's visiting to see Cece's musical. We enjoyed this one a lot. Put ANAIS in first, then had a hard time getting anywhere in the NW. Instead, jumped to GLEECLUB, which was an immediate answer for both of us, and the NE was partially filled quickly. I liked EASYGOING which fell with just an E_S. Shout out to Cece again, who got EMMASTONE (nice job!). I agree with you Horace - you enter into a Saturday expecting twisty answers. Thus MOVIE was an easy get. I'm not sure I like SANDALTAN - something seems off about it. It's the strap marks that indicate having worn thongs; I get it, but don't you remark on the absence of tanning rather than the presence to make that connection? Liked BOOKSMART very much.

  4. Also, I know RAMEAU, don't love his music, definitely JS Bach's contemporary, but it was my mother who came up with the answer while we were solving.

  5. et59, I think you're probably the only one (among us and the other two frequent commenters) that does not listen to classical (or should we say "art music" here, since Rameau, it would seem, was not "Classical"?) music on a regular basis. I love me some Baroque, but really, if you're going there, why listen to anything but Bach? I kid, I kid… but really…

    Also, Colum, aren't all "named tans" so named because of the pattern left behind? "T-shirt" or "Farmer's" tan, for example? or "Bikini" tan? And in the summer Frannie and I often get "Bike Glove" tans.

  6. Okay, Horace, I'll agree with that logic.

  7. 59 mins.
    Fast for a Saturday. I never heard of RAMEAU, probably because early on in my life I listened to many Baroque composers and finally winnowed the list to...Bach only. There is such a huge divide between Bach and all other Baroque composers that there is really no need to waste any of my time on the Earth listening to any but Bach. This includes the other most well-known Bach contemporaries: Handel and Telemann. Anyway, I starred 46D Abercrombie design (TARTAN) because I had never heard of it, but it seems to be correct. ET59, I was thinking of sand on the butt, perhaps leaving indentations or something, with 61A Evidence of having worn thongs, but it just wouldn't work. This thinking was reinforced because I first got the SAND in the answer with the crosses. I also liked all of the Z uses: BUGZAPPER/OLDGEEZER and JEZEBEL/ZERO. All of these had great clues.