Saturday, September 12, 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015, Damon Gulczynski

20:58 (FWOE)

This Saturday themeless is a mixed bag for me. Let us enumerate the ways.

First, I broke in at 4D: Genre of the 1970s movies "Foxy Brown" and "Three the Hard Way" (BLAXPLOITATION). I only needed the first movie title to get the answer, and with no crosses. Which was good, because I was getting none of the other answers in the NW corner without crosses. 1A: Emperor after Nero (GALBA) was empty for a very long time, and I eyed it with mistrust for a while before accepting the initial G. To my astonishment, as I read the New Yorker today, I found Galba referenced in a brief article about presidential candidates' hairstyles as compared to hairstyles of the ancient Romans. I'll give the piece of trivia a B.

I ended up moving to the SW next, where 54A: 1961 invasion locale (BAYOFPIGS) was another gimme. And this is, to me, the nit I have to pick with this puzzle. The difficult bits were difficult primarily because the references were simply unknown to me. I don't know EVIE Sands, and although I intuited GIL Scott-Heron, I didn't know him on his own. Maybe it's because Sands was primarily popular in the 60s and 70s, and The Revolution Will Not Be Televised was released in 1971. And then there's the IJSSEL. Whew! That's out there; the J was a guess, based on knowledge of how Dutch works. I'd be unsurprised if Horace and Frannie know it, given their recent jaunt through the Low Countries, but the rest of us? A big shrug. And ICEBEARS...

That being said, there's a lot of excellent parts to this puzzle as well. 17A: Willing to experiment, in a way (BICURIOUS) is excellent. 5D: What you find crawlers on (ALLFOURS) is a marvelous bit of unexpected simplicity in cluing. 19A: Vegan wrap? (FAUXFUR) is clever, although I wasn't misdirected at all. And how about 25A: Bad things to give away (ENDINGS)? No question mark, and I approve.

34A: Forum for seekers of faithful partners? (CHRISTIANMINGLE) is a great 15-letter answer, with a cute clue. It took me a while to get that answer because I'd incorrectly entered TAUTONmy at 9D (Taxonomic designation like Rattus rattus), thinking I was putting in "tautonomy". Of course, that didn't fit. I like the word TAUTONYM: I'd never come across it before.

My actual error came with DuH instead of DOH. I didn't get 46A: It rises out of a depression (JOBLOSS) at all. I didn't parse the economic term, thinking geologic instead. Maybe a "jubloss" was something like a "guyot". Yes, we know that term. Except not.

So some things that annoyed me, but over all, thumbs up.

- Colum


  1. What a wild, crazy puzzle. I did most of it while in the stands at my daughter's swim meet, then finished off the last parts of the East back at home. No errors, which is quite amazing in a Saturday with GALBA, LOLA (who apparently never appeared in the classic cartoons; first seen in Space Jam), ALUI, ICEBEARS (Southern Professional Hockey League--What!!!!), CERF (Never heard of him), OTALGIA, TERAflop, TREF (I am not Jewish--but, yes, I suppose I should have heard this somewhere along the line), EVIE, and CHRISTIANMINGLE, which I have never heard of but which, I guess, is fairly easily inferable. I don't include TAUTONYM, which I consider also easily inferable if you know tautology. But are any of these unfair? Maybe. The Knoxville hockey team is ridiculous, but, seriously, once you get a few letters, who couldn't parse out ICEBEARS? IJSSEL is probably unfair since unless you know Dutch, the letter sequencing makes no sense. And the cross at EVIE is an absolute Natick. Sure EVIE would probably be most people's first guess, but an A or an O would be plausible too. A couple I don't particularly like: NOGO--don't you need an "a" for NOGO to be the same as "aborted"? "The flight was a no-go," not "The flight was no-go." Also, RAVER. A raver goes to a rave. Going clubbing means going to several different clubs or bars. I don't know, maybe I'm nitpicking. Mostly I too liked this one quite a bit. I tend to like any hard Saturday. This wasn't among the hardest--just medium-hard for me, but it seems like it should have been worse. Like a said, a weird, whacky puzzle.

  2. 35:04 (FWOE)

    Frannie did, indeed, know the IJSSEL, but that's obviously not going to be obvious for many solvers of this puzzle. We also knew GIL, having had the great pleasure of seeing Mr. Scott-Heron in a local club many years ago. So good.... But BLAXPLOITATION, even though it was on our minds, was one of the last things we put in, because it was blocked for a while by our incorrect entry of FAkeFUR. That was eventually fixed up, but jeez, that NW was tough for us. Colum - Frannie ran across that same New Yorker reference to GALBA this morning. How funny is that?! We looked up Galba yesterday after finishing, by the way, and found that he was assassinated after only a few months in power. Not one of the big names from Roman times, that's for sure.

    I can't believe you haven't heard of CHRISTIANMINGLE, ET59, don't you get spam? I just deleted a message from them this morning! And speaking of your comments, I was happy to remember TREF after getting two crosses. Heh. It's a word I've learned - or half-learned, anyway - solely from crosswords.

    Our mistake came at the OTALGIA/TAUTONYM cross. I had entered OrALGIA, which is something of an "ear malady" itself, if you consider that it sounds something like "auralgia" which might well have been possible. Oh well. Frannie quickly noticed that TAUrONYM didn't make any sense, but it was already too late. Impulsive as I am, I filled the grid before letting her check everything over.

    Overall, I liked it. It put up a decent fight and, as has been documented, had plenty of good fill.

    1. My online activity must tell them that I'm not a good candidate for the site.

  3. 112:58
    Finished with one lookup (LOLA), which I didn't know at all, but no other errors. That NE was completely impossible for me without that, but after I looked that up I filled it in in around 20 minutes or so. Oddly, most of the puzzle was filled in in around 30 minutes. 'Nuff said.