Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014, John Lampkin


Well, where yesterday I felt completely at a loss, today I felt like everything I guessed at turned to gold ("L'Or de la Vie?" no… too sticky). I finished this before Frannie even had a chance to look at it, but while I got through it quickly, I did not especially like it.

Take 2D: Pluto and Bluto, e.g. (TOONS) - I just don't think of them as "toons." "Toons" is too new a word for those old cartoon characters. And then ROUTS (3D: Debacles) - it just doesn't seem perfectly parallel. SPREE (1D: Tear), on the other hand, I like a lot. I had "ShrEd" in there for quite a while, which really slowed down the NW.

Other things I enjoyed were ENTRAILS (19A: Innards) (nice fill, even though it came very quickly), ENHANCE (5D: Intensify), EMANCIPATE (48A: Free) (lots of good "E" words), ELGRECOS (4D: Some Prado hangings) (bonus for full name, slight deduction for pluralization), and GOBANANAS (13D: Flip out). Love that phrase. An old co-worker used to say everything was"cuckoo bananas" when she was stressed. I still smile thinking about that. TIGERMOTH (27D: A woolly bear becomes one), too, was good. I put "MOTH" in at the end immediately, but I couldn't remember the specifier without a few crosses.

So there's a lot I did like, but for some reason, I wasn't loving it while I solved it. Maybe REROOTED rubbed me the wrong way… or STJOE (26A: Missouri city, informally). I suppose that's Saint Joseph, MO? Well, since I'm struggling to justify my less-than-wowed reaction, I guess I'll have to give this one a thumbs up.

- Horace


  1. 17:32. I think your reaction is one of disappointment that a Saturday turned out to be too straightforward. In fact, I think they should have switched yesterday's for today's. Then we'd all be pleased as punch. The sets of three 10-letter answers are all great. The SE is particularly good (EMANCIPATE, SENTIMENTS, TRAINEDEYE). The NW is marred by the less than perfect POOLNOODLE. Yes, we call them noodles, but I've never heard the word pool put in front like that. Then you've got the three 9-letter answers in the SW and NE. I don't love JERSEYITE, but otherwise they're really good. The grid is good: there are only 6 3-letter answers. Overall I think it's a pretty well crafted puzzle. Just not enough of a challenge for a Saturday.

  2. Untimed, but--here's a little TMI (not to be confused with T.M.I.) for you--I completed it over two separate, modest sessions on the toilet. The west filled in seamlessly; the east was only slightly more demanding. No real sticking points, no writeovers. But you're right on, there is nothing really memorable or exceptional about this effort. I had nothing marked for distinction; it just wasn't a very fun solve. I mean, the answers you highlight in the third paragraph are all decent quality, but they don't exactly knock you over. On the other hand, I find little to quibble with. STJOE is just fine as that is a very common nickname for St. Joseph. It always makes me think of Sinatra's "Blues In the Night." "From Natchez to Mobile, from Memphis to St. Joe, wherever the four winds blow/I been in some big towns an' heard me some big talk, but there is one thing I know." I don't like the clue for ULEE, though. I'm sick of the answer anyway, but I don't think the film is famous enough for that type of clue, and it certainly has nothing to do with France--didn't premier at Cannes, or anything. Clue for STREETFAIR is maybe a decent piece of misdirection, but how accurate is it? Nobody puts up a street fair on a major, or even semi-major, artery. Last petty gripe: we've seen this exact word before, but I still would prefer "smartaleck" to SMARTALEC." Overall, just OK. If a Saturday is this lackluster, I want it to take at least three or four long sessions on the can. not two shortish ones.

    1. We used to have street fairs on Broadway in Manhattan. I guess that counts...

    2. Either it's a New York thing or I don't get out enough. I never knew street fairs were such a big thing:

    3. Coincidentally, it was Town Day here today, and the main road through the center was shut down.

  3. Untimed but far less than an hour.
    I, like Horace, was able to enter MOTH well before TIGER. Also, I had the ___ANAN_S of GOBANANAS but needed to cross a couple more before getting it; I wanted the word "nuts" in there somewhere. The sets of nines and tens were sufficiently challenging, and I loved the misdirection of 17A Follower of Roosevelt (ROUGHRIDER); I knew it wouldn't be the name of a successor to either president, but needed two or three crosses before figuring it out. For some nice blue fill we had 32D Trysting site (LOVENEST), and I thought that 44D Big V, maybe (GEESE) was great. Finally, may I suggest to ET59 that he consider a fine rye along with a comfortable chair for a solving ritual instead of the can.