Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014, Tim Croce and Alex Vratsanos


Just like last week - an easier than normal Friday and a killer Saturday. It's been a while since a puzzle has taken us this long to complete! I liked the fifteens, and there was some good misdirection with clues like 2D: Plain variety (PRAIRIE), and 36D: Skips (DEPARTS).

We started out well, getting ORZO (6D: Pasta eaten with a spoon) and then TAPPANZEEBRIDGE (17A: Span since 1955) quickly off of that, and TILT (23A: Camera movement) was the first thing I thought of for that clue, but it's not common on many cameras, now or ever.

But lower down the grid, I put in "StLouisCARDINALS" instead of ARIZONACARDINALS (54A: Pro athlete in red-and-white uniform) (both fit!), and "cards" instead of NFLER (28D: 54-Across, e.g., for short), which slowed things down considerably. Also, I really wanted "solf├Ęge" for 24D: Sight-singing technique (SOLFA), and had never heard the variant before, so that took some time, too.

We didn't love REGRADE (12D: Move from A to B, say), and we both dislike clues in the style of "51D: Part of A.M.P.A.S: Abbr." (ACAD), but overall, this was a pretty clean grid, and we learned what 1D: Schnitzels, e.g. (CUTLETS) are, so that's good. I guess.

We liked it, but it went slowly. Maybe because of a slight hangover.

- Horace


  1. DNF, officially, but 26:26. I suppose I should have known the The Libation Wearers was incorrect (LIBATIONBEARERS), but in my defense I entered Solomon LOEw first, and it was a reasonable guess.I too put St. Louis in first, but fortunately was able to figure out my mistake quickly. I rejected "Cards" because I thought that would violate crossword rules, but it took a long time to come up with NFLER. I also thought for some time that the Cardinals had won the 2008 WS, and it would have been ridiculous to have Cards there also. I love SEMISOFTCHEESES, although initially I had SoMeSOFTCHEESES, which would have been unusual and fun, IMO. Overall it was an enjoyable puzzle to work through, steady, but without too many brilliant clue-answer pairings.

  2. Very fun puzzle for me. First thing I put in was CEDAR! The kids and I have been on both of those coasters! Because of the yellow bat, you could never say that the St. Louis Cardinals wear red and white uniforms, but I did you two one better in the mis-entry department: I wrote in "Phoenix Cardinals" at first. I also had a writeover of CRAIG for "Conan," even though I used to catch Ferguson quite often. For me, this was on the easy side for a Saturday. I liked it, though. I agree with Horace that the 15s were quite nice. Neither of you guys mentioned SPANG. Is that something you've heard before? Can't decide if IRULE is lame or clever. Glad to see CPL, URI, MTA, and SSN since when I bring my two puzzles up to O.P. there will be adequate precedent for a few weak initials in corners. Finally, how about the symmetry of PATTI and KERRI? Boy, that Strug sure had her fifteen minutes. Was that courage back in 1996, or the result of being brainwashed?

    1. I don't care much about gymnastics generally, but Kerri Strug's vault remains my favorite summer Olympic moment ever, and really it's not close. I think it was the combination of her and Bela and my bet is that it doesn't happen without both of them. I particularly enjoy that after it was all over she transferred from UCLA to Stanford, went to Washington and was a presidential appointee to some project on justice. In other words, her fifteen minutes either opened doors or confirmed that she has something, or most likely both.

  3. I meant to mention SPANG. No, I've never heard of it. One of those letters was the last thing we put in - the crosses made sense, but it didn't.

    Glad to hear you'll be bringing some puzzles up! I've tried off and on to get one done, but it's pretty damn hard, when it comes right down to it. I suppose, then, I should be more lenient on some of these guys, but, well, what's a critic to do?

    Strug... who knows? It was probably just youth. Ahh... youth.

  4. DNF
    I just couldn't fill in the north middle. Everything else went quickly (<1:00).