Game animals to some / THU 7-27-17 / Out of place obstetric / Nabisco brand since 1912 / Genre for Philip K. Dick / Singer DiFranco / Cleopatra's Mines / Right-hand page / Sunshine Skyway Bridge / "Wind in the Willows" creature / "Playboy of the Western World" playwright

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler

Relative difficulty: Medium (10:00 exactly)

THEME: HOLD DOWN THE FORT -- three across entries "hold down" the word FORT into corresponding down entries in the grid.
  • 16A: Enjoying first-class amenities, say (TRAVELING IN COMF[ORT])
  • 33A: Wind speed metric (BEAUF[ORT] SCALE)
  • 40A: One looking to become rich (F[ORT]UNE HUNTER)
  • 59A: Have charge temporarily ... or a hint to answering this puzzle's three starred clues (HOLD DOWN THE FORT)
Word of the Day: ORESTES (66A: Euripides tragedy) —
[SPOILERS] In accordance with the advice of the god Apollo, Orestes has killed his mother Clytemnestra to avenge the death of his father Agamemnon at her hands. Despite Apollo’s earlier prophecy, Orestes finds himself tormented by Erinyes or Furies to the blood guilt stemming from his matricide. The only person capable of calming Orestes down from his madness is his sister Electra. To complicate matters further, a leading political faction of Argos wants to put Orestes to death for the murder. Orestes’ only hope to save his life lies in his uncle Menelaus, who has returned with Helen after spending ten years in Troy and several more years amassing wealth in Egypt. (Wikipedia)
• • •
As the constructor put 25D: Expenditures of time and energy (EFFORTS) into this puzzle, I was determined to 40D: Sally ___ FORTH into solving it, which was only moderately challenging, given that I have found Thursdays to be my 18D: Strong point (FORTE) -- or at least, my favorite puzzles of the week. There always a moment in these "spillover" (my term) themes when you're all, I know the answer and it won't fit into that space in the grid, and for me that moment was when I thought, I know what the wind speed scale is called, and BEAUFORT isn't fitting there. But will it be a rebus or something else? I liked the way the FORTs were at different positions in each themer: end, middle, beginning.
The NW was last and toughest quadrant for me -- didn't feel like STAVE (3D: Fend (off)) and COVE (4D: Small bay) should be next to each other. RECTO (38A: Right-hand page) in the middle of the grid is a handy (ha!) word from descriptive bibliography. (The left-hand page is the VERSO because it's on the back of the RECTO.) LAND SALES (32D: Some real estate business) -- is that a thing that people say? Or sell? Not much that was tremendously trendy in the fill, but it felt classic rather than dated. There was some dependence in the AFORESAID (12D: Mentioned previously) fill on little bits to hold things together -- RUS HAB EEN UTE HOR RDS MDS -- TIL OMG that's a lot all at once.

I get too hungry for dinner at eight
I like the theater, but never come late
I never bother with people I hate

  • 15D: Things mined in Cleopatra's Mines (EMERALDS) — This is name given to an archeological site near Aswan Dam in Egypt, discovered in the early 19th century. Almost made it Word of the Day, but felt like spoiling the plot of Greek tragedy instead.
  • 64A: Blues-rock group that grew out of Jefferson Airplane (HOT TUNA) — They're still touring.
  • 57A: Bill of Southwest legend (PECOS) — Apparently, Pecos Bill wasn't truly a legend that grew out of folk culture, but a character invented for a series in the early 20th-century magazine The Century (published in New York City), and as such, he is considered fakelore.
  • 13A: Out of place, in obstetric parlance (ECTOPIC) — A very, very, very common complication of pregnancy, not serious if treated promptly. I'm a little surprised this passed the "breakfast test" -- but perhaps that's a sign of progressiveness. 
Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld, who will 59A for another three days.

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Common Sense pampleteer / WED 7-26-17 / Rambler maker / 2006 Supreme Court nominee / Mineral in kale / Peter Paul and / Queen of the Nile / Jack's love Titanic / Typeface similar to Helvetica

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Constructor: Brian Cox

Relative difficulty: Easy (5:38)

THEME: Knock-Knock jokes — You know what a knock-knock joke is.
  • 17A: Response to "Knock knock": WHO'S THERE
  • 21A: "Esther ...": ANYONE HOME
  • 36A: "Yvonne ...": TO BE ALONE
  • 42A: "Sadie ...": MAGIC WORD
  • 52A: "Ken ...": I GET AN AMEN
  • 62A: "Luke ...": MA NO HANDS (did anyone else parse this as "man o' hands"?)
Word of the Day: ARIAL (27D: Typeface similar to Helvetica)
Arial, sometimes marketed or displayed in software as Arial MT, is a sans-serif typeface and set of computer fonts. Fonts from the Arial family are packaged with all versions of Microsoft Windows from Windows 3.1 onwards, some other Microsoft software applications, Apple Mac OS X and many PostScript 3 computer printers. The typeface was designed in 1982 by a 10-person team, led by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders, for Monotype Typography. It was created to be metrically identical to the popular typeface Helvetica, with all character widths identical, so that a document designed in Helvetica could be displayed and printed correctly without having to pay for a Helvetica license. (Wikipedia) [This paragraph is in Arial.]
• • •

Come senators, congressmen please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside and it's ragin'

I love knock-knock jokes, and I had high hopes for this puzzle -- up through 42A I thought there would be some kind of progression, i.e. that the person knocking would say the magic word and be let in. Maybe the magic word was DORIS. Doris who, you ask? Doris locked, that's why I'm knocking. Or maybe it was CARMEN. Carmen who? Carmen let me in! Wait, no, it's HARRY. Harry who? Harry up, it's cold out here! Orange you glad I didn't say banana?

Knock knock. Who there? Phyllis. Phyllis who? Phyllis decent but not flashy. I suspect people may trip over HOB (63D: Play ___ with (do mischief to)) -- it's not an expression I'd heard, and most of the sources I'm finding suggest that it's a British idiom. OVINE (66A: Like a merino) is a handy Scrabble word if you're trying to use up a V tile, or if your opponent has played VINE and you have an O. I'm curious about the cluing on AMOS (55D: "Chicago" simpleton ___ Hart) in a Wednesday puzzle, since there's a far more famous Amos.

Also: this is a debut, the first one I've blogged for Rex. Congratulations, Brian! Looking forward to seeing more puzzles from you. 

The only 30D I recognize

No bullets, but a quotation from 1A: "Common Sense"pamphleteer (PAINE) 
“Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.”
Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

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