Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saturday, July 5, 2014, David Steinberg


An appropriately challenging puzzle for a Saturday, but we guessed wrong on DINKS (18A: Hardly smash hits) and BIKEL (13D: Theodore of "The African Queen") (who?), going with a G instead of the K.

This felt kind of blah the whole way through, with answers getting a "Well, I guess that could be it" rather than a "Wow, very nice." Take, for instance, 1A: Neckwear slider (SCARFRING). Well, ok, I suppose it's that thing that used to hold my Boy Scout neckerchief on, but really? Scarf ring? See also BIKERCHICK (25D: Woman in a leather jacket, maybe). Frannie particularly disliked GEAROIL (23A: Tooth coating?), complaining that most people would just say "oil." 25A: Eschews money, say (BARTERS) seems a bit contrived, and is the NYT showing a little GENDERBIAS (9D: Male issue?) by clueing INGA with "7D: 'Young Frankenstein' girl?" I'm pretty sure she was over 18.

On the bright side, the pair of "Drill specialist, for short?" clues (DDS & NCO) was nice, and FAKEIDS (29A: Minor documents?) was funny. As was ARSONIST (31D: Ignition technician?). And I kind of liked CURLUP (38D: Get comfortable, in a way).

But the puzzle had a lot of stuff that was just kind of BORERSing (35D: Orchard menaces). Like OVIFORM (11D: Not quite spherical) (ok...), and ALSATIA (19A: Part of the Roman Empire in modern-day NE France) (ok...), GARDENA (40A: Los Angeles suburb once dubbed "Berryland") (whaa?). Also, JAVERT (27D: Broadway inspector)? Is this known by Broadway people? By non-Broadway people? Not by us.

I don't know... it just wasn't doing it for us today.

- Horace


  1. Untimed. Finished with my mother in NYC in about 30 minutes, I estimate, and it would have taken me over an hour without her. I confidently put DDS in at 28A, only to be shocked to see the second Drill specialist at 8D. My mother immediately volunteered NCO. The NW corner was the first to go, despite the incorrect entries of yOurHEAD or onesHEAD at 2D. ALSATIA actually should have been fairly obvious from the clue but took some time to figure out.

    I had DRAFTEE in the middle and nothing else for a long time. So we worked our way up from the SW corner where HESSE had been lonely for a while. The middle is the strongest section of the puzzle, with FAKEIDS, RATEDR, JIMBEAM, and DIVEBAR. We had no difficulty with JAVERT, who hails from Les Miserables. I agree with Frannie about GEAROIL. Blah. The SE corner was something of a letdown. We thought SUNGOD was a too straightforwardly clued with Apollo. GARDENA is not worth commenting on. Finally it was a surprise to see that MANDELA got his peace prize in 1993. Seemed too long ago.

    Overall, it was an okay puzzle, but it was fun to finish it with my mother.

  2. DNF after about 5:00
    But it wasn't as bad as I thought. I looked up the solution, because no one mentioned BOMBE. I had BOrBE (my only error, left over from initially filling tOrtE) because I didn't figure out the clever twist of 12D Winged prayer (MANTIS)! Brilliant. Anyway, Frannie and Colum are off on GEAROIL. It's a special, heavy-weight (usually around 90) specifically used for that purpose. One wouldn't put 5W20 onto a gear set. In industry, the term is standard.