Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday, July 1, 2016, James Mulhern


First of all, I'd like to thank Frannie for a very entertaining month of reviews. Hopefully, she can be convinced into becoming a regular part of the rotation! You'll get no such cleverness from me, so brace yourselves.

Today's puzzle denied me three times: with answers that I just didn't know (a good example of this is "57A: 2006 musical featuring a vampire." I had _ESTA_ and I still needed crosses! Same with _ULUSEA!); with oblique clueing (62A: They're drawn by the bizarre (STARES)); and with unusual answers (AIRWOMAN, ERDOCTOR).

I should have known I was in trouble when the first two answers I entered were EPA (19A: Org. that covers Springfield in a dome in "The Simpsons Movie") and LOIS (Lane in a strip). I threw in GIBLET (31A: Gravy goody) (eeuw), CHORAL (40A: Like motets), and ORIENTAL (59A: Light blue partner of Connecticut and Vermont) too, but after that it was slow going. One great help was that I "accidentally" glanced down at my computer keyboard as I was working and saw that the SQUAREBRACKET key is the "35A: Backslash neighbor." I briefly considered spelling "curly" with an E, but really, that character requires a shift, so I guess SQUAREBRACKET is more accurate.

I very much enjoyed the fill today, for the most part. TATTLE (1A: Talk) is solid B+ material in my book. And better still are TAILGATE (38D: Get too close, in a way), ONEMAN (15A: Not divisible, as a job), FLASHERS (7A: Driver's hazards) (I don't care what they mean, I'm understanding this to mean people flashing drivers from the side of the road. Or maybe from an overpass. Or heck, even from a passing car...), and DESTROY (20A: Torpedo).

Overall, I'm giving this one a thumbs up. The month is off to a good start!

- Horace


  1. I too loved this puzzle. Decent challenge for a Friday, and as you point out, a lot of good fill. I believe FLASHERS is a reference to a car's emergency lights, sometimes called hazard lights or just hazards. But I like your imagery better. Great cluing of ORIENTAL, wasn't it, since that word in most meanings is out of fashion nowadays? I got LESTAT fairly easily thanks to the fact that my wife used to read a little Rice. How about the very tricky cluing of MORN?! I thought that was great. Almost as good was the clue for EPIDURAL, but that is really one that didn't need a question mark. I'm surprised that Horace, known to be somewhat green, didn't call out TOTEBAG. Odysseus's dog is wonderfully arcane, and I appreciate the PC-defiant line of ONEMAN and AIRWOMAN. Thumb way up indeed!

    1. Completely agree about MORN. I almost used that as my example of oblique clueing. I thought "Crazy Horse, e.g." (LAKOTA) was tricky too!

  2. 17:33
    This puzzle got me a couple of times as well: first with FANTASYBASEBALL (I wanted football instead), and then with AIRWOMAN, where I wanted Aviatrix. I could not come up with SQUAREBRACKET without a ton of crosses (in part because in my mind I was thinking of the placement of the forward slash). ERDOCTOR is great; TEXASBBQ is awesome! Very very nice puzzle.

  3. I didn't love this puzzle, but maybe because I was stymied for so long in the north west and then finally completely stumped on the YAZOO/ZAC and SULUSEA/STUPA crosses. I had to look those two up. I did like the cluing for MORN, ORIENTAL, and TOTEBAG and some others, but the obscurity, at least to me, of so many answers: LOLITAS, STUPA, SULUSEA, TRU, Arthur BEA, and ISO - what is that anyway? - really got my GIBLETs in a bunch, Which reminds me that the wording of the clue "Gravy goody" set my teeth on edge. To sum up, this puzzle took its TOLL on me.

  4. Untimed (but around 20 minutes)
    I loved this, too, and I'll definitely side with Horace's definition of FLASHERS. Interesting trivia about NAGASAKI; I always figured it had something to do with rice wine. LESTAT is well known to me, so a couple of crosses sufficed, but ORIENTAL needed all of the crosses. GIBLET...yuck. TAXCUT and RAKEIN are nice, and I loved the clue for LOLITAS (41D Teases, in older usage). I wanted "Monde" for 42D, but it just wouldn't fit. FIGARO is much better regardless.