Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016, Alex Vratsanos



Mr. Vratsanos has spun a web of creepiness with his eight LEGged theme. The surfeit of arachnid answers detracted from my enjoyment of the puzzle, especially BITEMARKS. No good, as Huygens might say.

My error occurred where 54A. Antarctic volcano named for a place in the underworld crossed 56D. Hwy. through Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan - another type of hell - kidding! For some reason, I guessed eSTEN, which I was picturing as S10, but US 10 makes a lot more sense. As does EREBUS instead of EREBeS - kidding! :)

I've always thought the word CABOOSE was funny - in a good way. Seeing it in the puzzle today, I wondered where it came from. I looked into it briefly. Its origins are a little murky, but some think it might come from the Dutch word kombuis, meaning galley, because the caboose provided shelter and sometimes cooking facilities for train workers. In other learning opportunities today, I thought I was familiar with the word EPICENE, but it turns out I really had no idea what it meant. Now I do. Thank you NYTX!

Another great entry is ULM. Doesn't that always make you think of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm? It does me. Every time.

The high incidence of three-letter answers in the grid didn't do it any favors. EDA LeShan was completely unknown to me, but the others, while causing no trouble, also brought no joy.

Horace might be surprised to learn that I figured out 66A. Conductor Georg whose name consists of two musical notes (SOLTI) by running through the solfège song from The Sound of Music. Fa!

~ Frannie.


  1. This was indeed a remarkable puzzle. I was able to complete it with no errors, but the satisfaction in doing so was closer to that of a Saturday than a normal Tuesday. I thought for quite a while that the southwest would not only produce a DNF, but would obliterate me. BEING for "organism" eluded me for the longest time. I wanted something more biological. GREET for "open the door for" was similarly tough, and I, unlike Frannie I'm sure, would NEVER have gotten NEVEU without all of the crosses. Like Frannie, I needed them all for EDA too. And did I mention the bizarre GEE for "no kidding"? But I loved this. I always want to be challenged by a puzzle, and this is the most difficult Tuesday that I can remember. Fran touched on several of the challenges: EREBUS, EPICENE--on a Tuesday?!?!-- ULM (although that was pretty easy for me since we have New ULM here in Minnesota). BELLI was a gimme since I took four years of Latin, but that's another really tough answer for those who didn't. Right next to BELLI was good ol' USTEN. Turns out I travel part of that road every October when I drive up to Anoka for the Gray Ghost 5K. Isn't that a fun fact? And wasn't ICELESS weird? Writing over my ICEfree was just part of my puzzle messiness. Huygens may well like BITEMARKS, wouldn't you think? Which leads to my favorite clue "Decidedly nonfeminist women's group." Good stuff. Oh, one more thing, how confusing is EULER going to be to those unfamiliar with the man? I'll leave Frannie with a pleasant thought-- the reason I know the pronunskiation of the mathematician's name is because one John Baldwin set me straight many, many years ago.

  2. I'll use Frannie's new coinage "RWE" for my version of today's puzzle. I didn't know ADLER or EDA, and remembered Angela as BiSSETT - was there a somebody Bisette in my youth? I also didn't know SPINNERET or DERALTE or even EREBUS for sure, but that river name sure sounds familiar now.

    I having had maybe even more Latin than ET59 - and certainly more recent classes - I knew BELLI and even the deeper cut - REA. And, of course, I also knew NEVEU.

    Tough Tuesday, to be sure. And if I were there for Baldwin's correction, I did not remember it. I learned the correct pronunciation from Amy Reynaldo over at Crossword Fiend.

  3. Oh, and nice job, Frannie, on the detective work for SOLTI!

  4. 5:31
    Total guess on EDA/ADLER crossing. That's a Natick if ever I've seen one. This really ought to be a Wednesday at the least. A ton of tough entries. And I'll cry foul on 60D: Words after break or shake (ALEG), as it incorporates the leg without changing the meaning. Maybe that would be too hard to do otherwise... in fact, running through the alphabet, I see there's no other choice. Still, unfortunate. I love the four spider answers crossing the middle. Impressive work, just not for a Tuesday, hmmm?

  5. It occurs to me now, after looking over the puzzle again, that I completely forgot about the circles while I was solving. Those eight LEGs might have helped out quite a bit in places.

  6. 14:56
    This presented little trouble, although the ADLER/EDA cross was my final entry and certainly a Natick. EULER is well-known to me, as is Sir Georg SOLTI and, of course, NEBULA. ULM, indeed, always brings to mind the aforementioned gentleman. And the circles did not go unnoticed for me, and I filled them all in after I got the first two. Excellent puzzle, but as tough as all of that? I don't think so.