Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014, Martin Ashwood-Smith


Double quad-stacks. Always a challenge. Frannie got ELEPHANTTRAINER (60A: One who orders trunks to be moved) off the clue alone, but after that, we just chipped away at the small stuff, looking for precious crosses. Soon, Frannie guessed POTASSIUMIODIDE (59A: Kelp is a natural source of it) from the skeleton of letters, and soon enough, the bottom was done. Loved OBSCENEGESTURES (51A: They're usually pixellated on TV), and the clue for DENTALASSISTANT (61A: Member of a drill team?) wasn't bad either.

There was plenty of stuff we didn't know in here: DANIO (22D: Freshwater aquarium favorite), BOLE (52A: Woody trunk), ADAMA (4D: Native of Caprica on "Battlestar Galactica"), KERT (47A: Larry of the original "West Side Story"), GLEASONS (11D: Renowned boxing gym in Brooklyn), and PALESTRINA (27D: Renaissance composer of "Missa Papae Marcelli") (the end of the clue was as unhelpful as the beginning). And who the heck is NEALE Greasy? Wait, check that, it's "Greasy" Neale, apparently. Still nothing. Lastly, I've never heard anyone say "Poor as ARAT." We had "dirt" in there at first, obviously.

As we've said before, stuff we don't know is perfectly fair game on a Saturday. Today the crosses let us finish, and really, there was plenty of good material in here to keep us happy. Where to start on that? How about OPED (51D: Weigh-in section?). Took a minute to think of the Op Ed page. It was nice to see WAUKESHA (36D: Wisconsin county or its seat) in there. EAGLES (10D: They have bills and appear on bills) was nice, but we were blinded by loons, so it took us longer than it should have, perhaps. And speaking of money, CRISP (21D: Like new notes) was nice, crisp fill. 45A: Key contraction (OER) was a cute clue for oft-seen fill. And speaking of cute, CAPT (54D: Abbr. by Hook or by Cook) was good, too.

Did you notice that "Garcia" fit into "43A: Dead player?" We tried "hippie" at first, before coming around to POSSUM.

Overall, a decent, challenging Saturday.

- Horace


  1. 56 mins.
    I tried Pigpen for 43A Dead player? since I already had the "P." ELEPHANTTRAINER was first for me, too, followed by 16A, 1A, 18A, 17A, 61A, 59A and finally 51A (the OBSCENEGESTURES one). That surprised me. BOLE is seen pretty often by me, but it could be in the Telegram, and I was trying very hard to fit in loons or loonies instead of EAGLES, but once I had the crosses I filled that in. I never heard of a DANIO either, or KERT. I liked 29D Clean out (DETOX) and didn't get 46A ____ ed (SEX) for a long time for some reason. 14D Having good balance (SANE) was clever, and 44D Monthly (MENSAL) was gross.

  2. Blah. DNF. I don't like quad stacks. The long answers can be fun (and OBSCENEGESTURES is the best), but in exchange you get pretty borderline short answers. It feels like empty virtuosity. That being said, I loved putting PALESTRINA in as one of my first answers.