Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015, Kevin G. Der


Wow, this was a tough one! The clues were uniformly tricky, and even when I had an idea what they were getting at, the crosses were also so difficult that it sometimes took a break and coming back to the puzzle to get my brain in the right tack.

I broke into the puzzle with VIOLASOLO, an answer that was probably a "huh?" for most people, but which for me was straightforward as both my brother and his wife are professional violists. I tried smoOch at 31A: Sloppy kiss (WETONE), but figured out that was wrong when I put STAGESETS in. 26A: Loaded things? (BASES) took a while to figure out, especially since I wanted "peres" or "meres" for 26D: Members of la famille (BEBES). I never heard of a BIBELOT, so that took forever. And I misread 35A: Modern composer's constructions (TONEROWS) as "instructions".

Anyway, I had the entire NE filled in pretty quickly, so I thought things would go smoothly. Unfortunately not. I had TEENPOP going down into the SE, but I had BOXSters (?) at 33D: Some sports figures (BOXSCORE). I love that clue, especially as it misleads you into thinking the answer will end with an S. Finally, I guessed BAEZ for 45D, which enabled BOUNCEHOUSE. I actually think of those as bounce castles, but the entry googles well.

49A: Stopgap for an energy shortage (POWERNAP) is outstanding. I did not see it coming at all. The SE has very nice words in it, including ORANGINA, and ASANA right next to NEPAL.

Still, even with TIBIAS, _ALVES, and SNEEZE, I couldn't get any traction in the SW. It took a long time to see LIBRARIAN (sorry, Frannie), and 29D: Kosher (ALLOWABLE) was a tough get also. But the prize goes to 27D: Dog washers? (FOOTBATHS). Couldn't see it for the longest time! It took the breakthrough of seeing HOLY/GRAIL to open that section and finally break the rest of the NW.

  • 7D: Sliding door locales (MINIVANS) - very nice and not what I was thinking of at all. 
  • 8D: Sting, e.g. (BASSIST) - I'd tried British multiple times. 
  • 2D: Northern hemisphere? (IGLOO) - lovely.
  • 1A: One waiting to go off (TIMEBOMB) - I knew there had to be a bomb in here, but the answer is so perfect for the definition.
  • 25A: Majors, e.g. (BRASS) - very tricky!
The 3-letter answers in this puzzle are: 
  • ITS: common contraction, easily gettable from the clue, even though I don't know the song
  • LAG: common word, clued well enough.
  • ROM: dated word in just about every way. Who records on disks any more? Streaming, baby. That's where it's at.
  • IVE: common contraction, also easily gettable from the clue.
  • ARA: crosswordese, but really really really hard to get from the clue, which refers to a constellation, Norma, I've never heard of before.
  • TRU: title of a Broadway play that I got from the crosses.
Not bad, and the rest of the puzzle is an outstanding challenge.

- Colum


  1. I hated this one. For me, it was too easy for a Saturday; there was too much that was poor, off, or downright wrong; and there was almost nothing that popped or even brought a smile or a "That's cool!" Here are my main complaints: TEENPOP is not what plays on Radio Disney. You could call it either "kid pop" or "tween pop," but definitely not teen pop. What the hell IS teen pop, anyway? Teen pop is just pop; pop is primarily composed and performed for teens. COURTVISION is not right for "Hoopster's playmaking ability." Court vision certainly contributes to excellent playmaking, but it is not even close to the same thing. The clue is just sloppy: I'd be hard-pressed to come up with any synonym for "play-making ability." Also very sloppy is "Loaded things?" for BASES. Sure, bases are occasionally loaded, but shouldn't there be some acknowledgement of that "occasionally" part in the clue? BOUNCEHOUSE is my next complaint. The things are called "bouncers;" look-- ORANGINA is not known to practically anybody in the U.S. Furthermore, only in the broadest, weakest sense of the term is the fact that it comes in a pear-shaped bottle "ironic." Alanis Morissette would probably consider it ironic, but I don't. How sick am I of ALSORANS? Few people use that word in real life, and when they do I'm pretty sure they use it to mean candidates or horses that merely fill out the field. I challenge constructors to come up with better clues than the now cliched "Losers" if they feel the need to use ALSORANS. Moving farther down my list I come to EGOMANIA. I like neither the word "affliction" for that mental proclivity nor the use of "Citizen Kane" rather than "Charles Foster Kane." I thought BOXSCORE was lousy for "Some sports figures." Anybody who does crosswords regularly is going to immediately think statistics, but to me something seems off with the clue-answer unity. "Neighbor of Norma" is laughable for ARA. How many pages into google search do you think you would have to go to find that definition of Norma? I have more nits to pick, but I will cut it off here. I really wanted to like this one too since we just saw a great production of The Music Man Thursday night. I don't know Berlioz or violas, but the answer was easy after I got the O from mimosa. I need a drink!

    1. Well, tastes will vary, of course. I disagree about "bouncers" though. Doesn't google at all to what we're talking about. Bounce house, however, immediately pulls them up. Perhaps that's what they call them round Minnesota way.

    2. "Inflatable bouncer" yields plenty of relevant hits.

  2. I'm a man who needs validation. I found a little from the Crossword Fiend: "The cluing felt a little on the dry side to me. Yes? I like it when a clue is tricky and I’m duped by it and can’t help smiling when I finally figure it out. That didn’t happen here."

  3. We did this one on paper, on the porch, and I didn't have much of a problem with it. ORANGINA was, in fact, the first thing I put into the puzzle, and I smiled at the clue. I wanted BOUNCyHOUSE, since that's what everyone I know calls them, and was a little disappointed with BOUNCEHOUSE, but I've never heard anyone say "bouncer." That's a guy outside a bar. Not a bouncy house.

    LIBRARIAN, too, went in quickly and without crosses. Never heard of Norma, and know ARA as a constellation only from crosswords. I groaned when it became obvious. AROINT was tough, especially where it crossed ERIN, in fact, that was our last square, and it was looked up, since we did not have the instant confirmation of an online solve. BASES and BOXSCORE were fine with me - and hey, we're off to Fenway tonight. I bought the tickets because it was a day game, originally, but has been moved to the evening because it's ESPN's "Game of the Week," or some such nonsense. Jerks. Liked WINTHEWAR, POWERNAP, FLAGRANT, and ONAVERAGE. Frannie knew BIBELOT, thank goodness!

    Didn't play especially tough for us, but we were two working together. Overall, a decent enough Saturday.

    - Horace

  4. Around 2 hours.
    Horace's father helped with LIBRARIAN, TIBIAS and SNEEZE, and after I finished the puzzle I asked Sue about ORANGINA, which she identified right away as coming in a pear-shaped bottle. WETONE was great and I loved HOLY/GRAIL. I entered EGOMANIA without any crosses on my first pass and got the excellent IGLOO off of that, but this was a slow slog (but steady) for me. No complaints, though, as I enjoy a challenging Saturday.