Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday, December 18, 2015, Andrew Zhou


Boy, last night this seemed intractable, but this morning Frannie said at breakfast that she was pretty sure "1A: Prison design that allows surveillance of any inmate at any time" was, in fact, what her first guess had been - PANOPTICON. (That's a definite A.) This forced me to remove two erroneous answers that I had entered. It also gave me, from the N (and the U of STUB), NOMOREMRNICEGUY (3D: "The gloves are off"), and from that point on, filling in what was probably more than half the grid, took only five minutes or so. It's amazing how detrimental a few bad answers can be!

As with yesterday's puzzle, I forgive such things as CAMS (31A: Reality show gear, informally), which I have never heard, and the French version of El Cid, LECID (48A: Massenet opera set in 11th-century Spain). I forgive the latter partly because they made the clue so direct ("Massenet" = French language answer, and "11th-c. Spain" = El Cid). I was all set to be mad about the clue for OHARE (4D: L's end?), but I checked the Chicago Transit Authority page and the official name really is "L," not "El." So ok, then.

The puzzle was made more difficult by the inclusion of several not-well-known proper names today: ROREM (36A: "Bertha" composer); KIROV (38A: Company for which Rudolf Nureyev once danced); CASS (49A: ____ Gilbert, designer of the Supreme Court building); DARE (23A: Virginia ____, first English child born in America (1587) (Wow! Tough!); INGA (55A: Actress Swenson); and HAYS (62A: Fort ____, Kan.). One name that was not so hard was SETHMEYERS (63A: TV host who succeeded Jimmy Fallon on "Late Night"). What is it that Stefan said about him? That he was "Engineered by gay scientists?"

The NW and SE corners are wonderfully open, and even the smaller SW and NE still have, essentially, seven-stacks. The extra tens in the middle - NOLOVELOST (33A: Mutual dislike) and WONDERBRAS (39A: Products once advertised with the slogan "Hello boys") - are both lively. Overall, it was a very good challenge, and an enjoyable solve.

Favorite clue/answer - 58D: Camel droppings? (ASH). Nice hidden capital!
Least favorite - 41D: Like E.T. riding Elliott's bicycle (REARLIT). What the? So convoluted, and for what?!?

- Horace


  1. 61:00 (FWOE)
    Which came at the ONEONTA/LECID cross, which is an outrageous cross, IMO. I wanted pushupBRAS, but of course we needed a product name, and it took me way too long to get RHOMB, which I should have gotten once I had RHO_B! KIROV I was able to get off of the K, and I loved the ALOHASTATE/NENE cross/pairing. I guess that the "MR" of NOMOREMRNICEGUY needed to be abbreviated in order to fit. And, of course, I'd have liked "Hunter" in there for the "Bertha" reference. Very nice Friday.

  2. 17:10
    I had three quarters of the puzzle completed in 10 minutes or so and spent the last 7 minutes staring at the NW. And that's with putting PAPADOC in as my first entry in the puzzle! I had incorrectly put in Virginia "Dear", so that took some figuring out. I couldn't believe the ____EMRN____ in the middle of 3D, but once the lower part was put in, there was no missing NOMOREMRNICEGUY (great entry!). Horace, the CAMS referred to are the cameras following all of the reality show participants around. It was getting ALIBABA that made the NW fall completely.

    Ned ROREM I knew, although I don't actually know much of his music. The KIROV was likewise familiar to me. CASS was not, but I got it from all the crosses. For the E.T. clue, I had stARLIT for a while. This is manifestly incorrect: he is moonlit, if anything. REARLIT is a definite huh?

    I'm not sure I get 16A: Drove diagonally (TOED). I thought it meant "towed" for a while, which would be amusing, as the car that is towed is on a diagonal. Any ideas?

    1. Derp! I was so fixated on "camo" that I couldn't understand my own damn profession! And I'm pretty sure they're talking about nails, not cars, but I have also heard the term "toed in" when getting the wheels balanced.

      Also, nice damn time!

    2. 14:17
      Anne also got PANOPTICON from the first clue. I got ALOHASTATE and NENE pretty quickly, and Anne got PIMACOTTON from the clue, and we were off. ROREM I figured from the R of NOMOREMRNICEGUY, which we also put in after only a brief hesitation. NHL: gimme. Massenet I know was French and so we easily changed elCID TO LECID.

      I guess the point is that it was one of those puzzles where our collective wisdom lined up pretty well.