Saturday, August 2, 2014
Saturday, August 2, 2014, Kristian House
We did this while sitting on the beach, looking out at the ocean. It's a pretty nice way to do a puzzle, and it seemed to work out for us, as we finished in just over a half an hour. Frannie blew the middle apart, getting ARTISAN (29A: Craftsperson), ORWELLIAN (32A: Like a Big Brother society), and ROALDDAHL (44A: Subject of the 2010 biography "Storyteller"), which really opened things up.
The hardest part, for us, by far, was the SE, which took us a good ten minutes on its own. We just could not understand how 66A: Left part of a map? (BLUESTATE) and 64D: Frequent winner in a 66-Across: Abbr. (DEM) would work together. We were at an impasse until OTBS (55D: Some parlors, for short) finally fell. It's funny, because there were a couple of gimmies in that section that helped us get going - RUY (63D: Chess's ____ Lopez opening), and the fun TETE (59D: First of many body parts in "Alouette"), but we can never remember SKAT (58D: It uses sevens through aces), and PULP (Trashy, in a way) took us forever!
There were a handful of groan-inducing bits - OWER, PRIERS, and ENDERS, for example - and we think USERFEE (39A: Charge at a state park) is a bit of a stretch. "Entrance fee" would be better, wouldn't it? but LUBRICANT (33D: It helps get the wheels turning), MANENOUGH (1A: Not too wimpy), ONONEKNEE (15A: Begging, perhaps), and many others, make those little annoyances bearable. And can we talk for a minute about BUTTNAKED (10D: Completely bare)? Isn't that just a corruption of "buck naked?" And either way, shocking!
Overall, though, this was a good Saturday grid, with some nice "paired" clues, some nice trivia, and lots of long, interesting answers. Plus, it's a lovely, overcast day on the beach, which reminds me, I've gotta go!