Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday, February 28, 2015, Barry C. Silk


This one started slowly, but can you blame me? I opened the puzzle for the first time while seated at an outdoor table at a Brasserie in Paris, sipping a cold beer under a hot heat-lamp, waiting for Frannie to come back from her trip to the bookstores and bouquinistes of the Rive Gauche. I filled in about six things, at least three of which turned out to be wrong, then closed the iPad and people-watched for an hour.

The first thing I entered was "fist in air" for 15A: Classic symbol of rebellion" (IRONCROSS), but is an Iron Cross really a symbol of rebellion? It just makes me think of the Third Reich. I guess it's used by motorcycle gangs, but is that really rebellion?

But I don't mean to grouse. I liked this puzzle just fine. All the other nine-letter answers were very good. I loved the lower stack, with STRETCHER (62A: Battlefield transport), WEARISOME (65A: Yawn-inducing), and FRYOLATOR (67A: Greasy spoon appliance). Those are all excellent. The crosses are just ok, except for SMELTER (43D: Where to get the lead out?) - which I loved.

PHOTOBOMB (48A: Laugh-inducing pic) is great, SHOEBOX (40D: Holder of many a diorama) is nicely clued, and is unusually tied to 5D: Last name on a 40-Down (MCAN). And speaking of tie-ins, we noticed only after getting OPERA (16A: "Bluebeard's Castle," e.g.) that it was pretty much given to us with 53A: "Bluebeard's Castle" librettist Bal√°zs (BELA). I mean, what else has a libretto?

Did not enjoy APODAL (11D: Without feet), SMEARER (47D: Mudslinger), or TITFER (49D: Bit of headwear, in British lingo) (huh?) (oh, ok... Cockney slang. Still, though...), but there was more bad than good, so thumbs up!

Favorite clue: 36A: Opening piece (KNOB). We needed K_OB before that one came clear.

- Horace


  1. 21:34. Somehow I always end the toughest puzzles in the NW. I had "raised arm," which made no sense. IRONCROSS is not anywhere near the first ten things I would have thought of. PIGLETS is nice up there, but AREAMAP is a "huh?" I mean, year, a GPS shows that, but it's not its primary purpose at all. And then you have ANS, MCAN, and ARGOS. So, yeah. The rest of the puzzle was better.

    I really broke in the the NE, where OPERA (a gimme even without the linked clue) and DODO allowed everything to open up. BAZOOKA is nice. I knew DICKCLARK had to be right, but those two Cs at the beginning of CCLAMP confused me.

    SHOEBOX and SPYWARE are very nice. Don't like TITFER. SMEARER is worse. SMELTER is fine. The best was, as you said the SE trio of 9-letter answers, each of which is excellent.

    Overall, a mild thumbs up.

  2. After reading Rex's blog post, I see that many people did not like PONS. Personally, I loved it, and entered it without a cross. The brain is awesome.

  3. BTW, I'm planning on starting up again tomorrow...

  4. We were thinking along the same lines with the "fist in air," "raised arm" ideas. And you're right, I did overlook a lot of junk up there. I don't mind ARGOS, though, as I fancy myself something of a classicist. You take PONS and the mind, I'll take ancient Greece.

    And thanks for letting me know about tomorrow. I wrote to you, but my email seems to be sketchy over here, so I wasn't sure. Anyway, it's good news. Thanks.

  5. 48:36
    What's so unusual about tying 5D: Last name on a 40-Down (MCAN) to SHOEBOX? I liked it. Surely you had a pair, probably more than one, of Thom McAn shoes as a kid. No?

    But can anybody explain how you get KALE from 30D: Do-re-mi?

  6. As Woody Guthrie said it - "california's a Garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see, but believe it or not, you won't find it so hot, if you ain't got that 'do-re-mi.'"

  7. Or was it the "kale" part you weren't familiar with?

  8. 50:50
    Of course, KALE is a slang term for money. I, too, liked PONS and wrote it in quickly. ABAFT was another great one that I don't believe was mentioned. I didn't particularly love PARTB (10A Second installment), but I did like BAZOOKA, its cross, so that made it OK. As for the rest, it's been said, I guess, except for GETSAGRIP, which was enjoyable.