Sunday, September 27, 2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015, David Woolf

34:27 (FWTE)

One of the great things about doing crossword puzzles, especially really tough ones like today's, is that moment when you figure out one answer and a domino effect happens. This occurred for me with 44D: 2013 Oscar-nominated frontwoman for rock's Yeah Yeah Yeahs (KARENO). I had K_R_N_; I didn't know her name off the top of my head, but some inkling seeped through, and then I put it in. I had 43D: How Viola dresses in "Twelfth Night" (ASAMAN), although I'd wanted "in drag" first. I also had 45D: Commercial command (ACTNOW), after I'd tried buyNOW.

But getting that O allowed me to see 65A: Wet blanket? (SNOW) - nice clue, especially paired with the other "wet blanket" clue, and then EONS, and then the excellent 54A: Foam figures? (LATTEART) became apparent, and then suddenly 7D: Statement of political hubris (APRESMOILEDELUGE) shone through the clouds of my befuddled mind like a shaft of gold when all around is dark. (It was one of Shaw's... anybody know that reference?) And all the rest of the puzzle was filled in. Not correctly, as it turns out, but we'll get to that.

I was struck by how much the structure of the grid resembled yesterday's. There are four 12-letter answers in an offset stack in the middle, with one long answer crossing the middle. But what's different is that the grid is 15x16, and Louis XV's apocryphal statement is the obvious reason why. For a long time, I had _____MOILED____ for that long answer, and really was stuck. Was there something about "turmoil"? Was it talking about an "oiled" machine? Getting all of the long acrosses didn't help!

Speaking of which, that stack is outstanding. 33A: Uncharacteristic quiet spell (RADIOSILENCE) is lovely, and well clued. 37A: Get engaged, in slang (PUTARINGONIT) is great, and got a chuckle from me. 38A: Shooter's bagful (CAMERALENSES) had me thinking about BB shots, as well as marbles, before the crosses made the photography reference became clear. And 39A: Female snakes (VILAINESSES) was a complete surprise. I was sure it was a true zoological term.

There are a whole ton of tricky clues today. 1A: Related thing (TALE) was one of the last entries I made. Such an elegant turnaround from an adjective to a past participle. I'll give it a B+. Meanwhile, 1D: Group with many hits (THEMOB) took me until I'd gotten the error message to understand. In fact, I'd entered rANDs (?) at 27A: Travel mag advertiser (BANDB). I was thinking of Rand McNally, I suppose, and I'd never heard of BOBATEA, although I'm sure some here have. So, yeah.

I'll just highlight a couple: 18A: Passing scores? (DIRGES) is wonderful. I love 37D: Like 1[cent], as costs go (PALTRIEST). How about 57A: Old-school rapper? (FERULE), as in the item used to rap children's knuckles. That is crazy tough. Very little waste here. Two thumbs way up.

- Colum


  1. Very nice, thorough review. This was indeed a beauty. I was particularly interested in reading about your struggles on the remarkable 16-letter down answer. I too battled mightily with that one, but I was stuck on _PRES_ "Press" something? Pressure of some kind? It never occurred to me that the answer could be specific rather than generic. Big smile and sigh when it finally came around. What a great centerpiece to the puzzle. I liked all of the clues and answers you spotlighted. A couple I'll add are "Washington's capital" for ONES and "Spelling bee requests" for USAGES. Two pretty nifty clues for rather ordinary words. And how about that wonderfully erudite clue for the crosswordese ESAU?? "One of a reconciling pair painted by Rubens"! Wow. I give this an A.

  2. DNF
    I had eerIeSILENCE and didn't know the middle of APRES______DELUGE, so I couldn't fill in the middle bits at all. The rest of the puzzle was finished in 47:31, but so what? MOONBASE was good, and I, too, enjoyed the "Wet blanket" pair. Oddly, I got ESAU with only one cross (SALES). Loved ONES.

  3. 54:01
    I started this one off with ELISE (6D: Noted 19th-century bagatelle dedicatee), and got various little things here and there, filled in the NE, KARENO, and CILANTRO, and other things, then gave it over to Frannie, who got all the fun stuff (APRESMOILEDELUGE, ASAMAN, DOPENESS...) and, basically, almost the entire thing. Together we finished the little bits remaining, including the excellent VACUUMS (39D: They have nothing). We loved it, too. Very nice Saturday.

    And what, no mention of the reference? We all know that there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about!