Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014, Matt Ginsberg


Another tough Friday! This one took two sessions, one last night and one this morning, before we finally got the thing done. The satisfaction was marred somewhat by ENISLE (6D: Put on a key?), and opaque clues like 26D: Word on a biblical wall (MENE), 38D: Alexander who directed "Nebraska" (PAYNE) (We watched the whole Oscars, too!), and, at least at first, 3D: "Etta ____" (old comic strip) (KETT). Sure, it makes sense now! And ACTAEON (47A: Greek hunter trained by Chiron) rang a faint bell once we got it, but jeez!

And speaking of the Greeks, I am reading Book Two of the Aeneid right now (in it, Aeneas recounts the end of the Trojan war for Dido), and consequently felt quite confident entering "gReekS" for 57A: Trojan rivals. That is, of course, exactly what Mr. Ginsberg wanted me to do. I don't know what BRUINS are in this context, but I'm guessing that they are a brand of condom. Either that, or I have yet to reach the point in the story where Troy is also besieged by bears.

The "Friday Theme," as we'll call it, was actually pretty good. THENANNY LOST ALLMYCHILDREN. Hah! Up in the NW we had almost nothing, and once Frannie put in INASTATE (4D: Worked up), I actually wondered if it might be "Seinfeld lost all my children." In other absurdities, I also tried "detWIN" for 7D: Isolate, somehow (SNOWIN), and then "uNtWIN," which actually gave us, with ENISLE, all the Ns for THENANNY. Whew! OMG, TMI, right?

Any time you can work in SCHADENFREUDE (27A: Guilty pleasure?) (no question mark needed!), the puzzle can't be all bad, and this one wasn't. Frannie and I disagreed somewhat on the exact appropriateness (to the clues) of HAZMATSUIT (29D: Requirement for special handling?) and CARVE (48D: Chisel), but I liked them just fine, and I'm the one who's writing, so overall, I'm giving this challenging grid a thumb's up. I'm not sure it's one up, one down, but it's at least one up.

- Horace

p.s. Tomorrow, Frannie and I will be solving online the puzzles used at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. We considered making the trip to Brooklyn, but couldn't swing it this year. It's 20 bucks for the online puzzles, and you aren't actually competing for anything, but at least you can feel a part of it. We'll report more on that on Sunday.

p.p.s. Wait, is it the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans? Damn college sports...


  1. 20:13. I thought this puzzle was outstanding. Yes ENISLE is an ugly word, but the clue was cute. And how can you dislike a puzzle whose 1A is ICKINESS? SCHADENFREUDE's clue is actually fine with a ? in my book: the term does not mean guilty pleasure, but it is a funny way of describing the feeling. HAZMATSUIT, GARAGEDOOR, LODESTAR, all excellent. ACTAEON is the hunter turned into a deer and killed by his own dogs, right? I'm not convinced that OVINES is really acceptable (pluralizing an adjective to make a plural noun?). MENE MENE tekel upharsin!

  2. You're right, I admit, on all counts. (Except maybe ACTAEON - I haven't looked that up yet, but you're probably right about that, too.) ICKINESS = awesome. Question mark - I grudgingly accept that argument. I was actually happy to see OVINES, because for a moment there I considered the possibility of "sheeps." Wouldn't that have been something? And I don't really mind the nounizing. HA!

  3. Interesting about MENE. I have now seen (or at least read about) the writing on the wall.

    Also - bingo on ACTAEON.

  4. 53A Noted septet (SEAS) was excellent, as was the BRUINS clue (I kept thinking along the condom line, like I enjoy doing). I liked seeing IROBOT, but not because of Will Smith (I'm an Asimov fan, and the movie had little to do with the books). It was a good, tough puzzle that took me a couple of hours to complete, which is just fine with me.