Saturday, July 11, 2015

Saturday, July 11, 2015, Joe DiPietro

22:11 (FWOE)

I enjoyed this Saturday themeless a lot. We've talked before on this blog about how when the turn comes around, your solving brain changes the way it sees clues in order to accommodate the trickiness you expect to find. Some answers here just popped into place because of that, and it's always fun to see how well you can think like the puzzle creator.

I broke in with what to me is a gimmie, namely Isaac ALBENIZ. I don't really like classical guitar music, but my local classical music station insists on playing it at least once an hour. That being said, Albeniz was more known for his piano music, so I suppose I'm just using this as an excuse to complain about the radio station. 27A: French Christian (DIOR) was one of those clues I mentioned above. INT and DEB quickly followed, as well as CANDIDE, which was the opera I saw on my first date with my wife.

I don't like SLABTOP. But I do like EZPASS. I worked from that end down to the middle of the puzzle. 35A: Game for cats (MICE) was another Saturday mindset clue, as was 36D: French bread (EUROS). With SCADS in place, I got 52A: "Hmm, let me think about that" (IMNOTSOSURE), which I liked very much for the subtextual response. I confidently put in LOSTpet (later changed to LOSTcat before settling correctly on LOSTDOG).

The entire SW fell into place next. It took a long time to parse 48A: Hacker's aid (COUGHDROP) as not referring to computer anarchists, so there my Saturday brain failed me. I also really love 42: Caesarean section? (GAUL), especially since the operation is usually spelled cesarean. My one error came in this area, where I fairly confidently put YENTlS instead of YENTAS. Once again mistaking Barbra Streisand's title role for the Yiddish gossiper. Cute clue there as well at 66A.

The SE wasn't too hard when after I put QUE in at 63D (What's what south of the border?), which revealed DIDSQUAT, a great answer. I made things difficult for myself by putting atpeACE in at 46D: Free from tension (UNBRACE, where the word "free" is being used as a verb). Also I tried "anamUNT" at 45D, only to realize soon thereafter that there wasn't actually room for all the letters I needed. XAMOUNT is one of my least favorite answers in the grid. It feels a little incomplete.

At that point I worked my way down from the NW again. I love LISASIMPSON's clue - a classic Simpson line, and only Lisa could have said it. TITLESONG was surprisingly straightforward. I had Mute for MIME, which I like much better. 16A: Star close to Venus (SERENA) is very a propos, now that she has won her sixth Wimbledon.

Very little to complain about, a lot to love. The shape of the grid is excellent as well, with no isolated sections.

- Colum


  1. You, Mr. Amory, are funny. ALBENIZ a gimme. I agree overall with your assessment of this as a very solid Saturday with a lot to love. DIDSQUAT might have been my favorite answer. LIke you, and I'm sure Horace and Frances, I would concur that you can't go wrong with a classic line from The Simpsons. COUGHDROP took me a similarly long time, but I was hung up for some reason on the cabbie definition of "hacker." I wanted some relative of "cash drop." Idiotic, I know. SLABTOP was, as you imply, weak. I'm not so sure, though, about IMNOTSOSURE; it didn't quite ring true to me. Loved the very elegant cluing for INFEST, and I too thought that UNBRACE was rather clever. It's not just that "free" is used as a verb, however; it's also the use of "brace." I mean, how common is "unbrace"? Unshackle or unchain, sure; but unbrace is a nice verbal equivalent of a "deep album track" on FM radio. I'm curious, as a man so steeped in anatomy, did "Part of the chest" throw you for a loop? For some reason, I remembered the name JEWISON, so that corner fell quickly for me. Anyway, a good puzzle, if a little too easy for my tastes on a Saturday. I completed this in a very leisurely half-hour, or so. My ideal week-ender puzzles start with 15 minutes of entering nada (doing squat, as it were) but eventually fall over one to two hours and maybe two or three different sittings. I suppose it's hard for folks like Joe P. to tailor such puzzles for me, so I will happily take quality offerings like this one, as well.

    1. Why, yes, ET59, I did get hung up on "Part of the chest." I was thinking muscles, ribcage, even organs for a while.

  2. We agree that this was a very nice Saturday. Frannie and I passed the iPad back and forth in a leisurely way, and finished up with an error somewhere around the 45-minute mark. The error was in the area of XAMOUNT, but I'm not longer sure exactly what was wrong. I think we had a couple squares wrong, actually.
    I had the turn mentality going too, and entered LSD (9D: Hit from the 60s) and OER (10D: Key contraction) without hesitation. SERENA and DRAWER (both excellent), however, took much longer.
    We both knew we knew the LISASIMPSON quote, but it took a few crosses before we realized who had said it. And yes, we both enjoyed it.
    A very good Saturday, in my opinion.

    - Horace

  3. 36:26
    This fell into place relatively easily for me for a Saturday, even though I'd never heard of ALBENIZ or JEWISON. I ran into nary a LOGJAM while solving this. 9D Hit from the '60s? (LSD) was nicely clued. I didn't like XAMOUNT too well, and I'm not familiar with MARENGO. MICE is great if only for its clue.