This puzzle started out nicely with STATUSQUO (Something a provocateur opposes) (in off the clue) and LEMONCURD (Tart dessert topping) (so delicious...). And off of those, AMSTEL (River for which a European capital is named), TOTEMIC (Representative), and URANUS ("Sky father" of Greek myth) were all lovely. SCOT (Burns, e.g.), with its hidden capital, was a very tricky C/AP, and TETON (County in Wyoming, Montana or Idaho) is nicely evocative of the wild west. I had never heard of a QUBIT (Portmanteau unit of computing information) (from "quantum bit"), but it is Friday, after all, so we expect a QUBIT of that.
Then over in the NE, we've got the "Lyre-playing great-granddaughter of 8-Down" ERATO - a nice tie-in, and the amusing "Offering with a blessing?" (KLEENEX). I thought WHOSNEXT (Question at a press conference, maybe) was a bit too "maybe," INES (Mission Santa ____ (National Historic Landmark in California)) was another one that I had no hope of knowing without all crosses, and NUHUH ("Not true!") was a no for this solver.
SYLVAN (Like much of Maine) (so true!) is a lovely word, and I enjoyed the EVA DUARTE combo, but although a PAPERWASP nest sounds like a "delicate" thing, anyone who has tried to destroy one knows that it is not so delicate as all that.
And finally, we get down to the SE, where DEI Fratelli (tomato sauce brand) and BITON (Dog that's a cross of two French-named breeds) drove the final nails into my enjoyment. That's harsh, and I know that not knowing something isn't fair cause to bash a puzzle, but, well, needing pretty much all crosses for six or seven entries can be a bit of a drag. And I guess I also thought the clues were trying a bit too hard sometimes.
Horace, your first paragraph made me appreciate this offering (sans KLEENEX) even more than I thought I did. That NW corner is indeed quite lovely. My favorite part of the whole puzzle is the word "provocateur" in the first clue. AMSTEL, TOTEMIC, URANUS, all great, as you say. I didn't immediately know Miss DUARTE, but I do know enough to assume that a Friday/Saturday first lady won't be American. Overall it was a fun, fairly challenging Friday (paper) solve. I would have preferred a WHOSNEXT clue that referenced the iconic, if perhaps vulgar, album cover of the 70s, but one can't have everything, I suppose. BITON is a deep-dive into dogdom--I had never heard of the cross or the coton de tulear, but my daughter knows of the latter, so I'm going to allow it:) By far the worst, ugliest thing in the grid is NUHUH. The "word" itself is off-putting, and the clue is woefully inadequate, as it doesn't suggest whininess or stupidity.ReplyDelete
Hard, but satisfying solve for me. Love the clues! And BITON -- which I'd never heard of but searched the breed -- I want one!ReplyDelete