Having no aisles in architecture - SATURDAY, Mar. 28, 2009 - J Krozel (Big catch of 2003 / Title apiarist of a 1997 film / Grosbeak relatives)
Friday, March 27, 2009
1 (esp. of a classical temple) not having columns at the sides
(Collins English Dictionary - my Webster's 3rd International does not have that second def.)
2 (of a church) having no aisles
(C19: from Greek apteros wingless; see apterous)
(C19: from Greek apteros wingless; see apterous)
Despite having an abundance of words and phrases I was not familiar with, this puzzle felt pretty breezy. As I've said before, puzzles with many 15-letter answers tend to look daunting but be far easier to unlock than those that keep you in the 5-10-letter range - too long to be easy or common, too short to open up huge chunks of the puzzle. I had an error at the end, but in a place where I just can't feel that bad. I had PONTO / ERLO instead of the correct PONTE / ERLE (18A: Common sight in Venezia + 5D: "Phineas Finn" character Barrington). Admittedly, ERLO is a stupid-sounding name choice, but PONTO VECCHIO sounded right to my ears, and I figured this ERLO guy was just someone with a ridiculous name from some story I've never heard of. Don't know what "Phineas Finn" is and never heard the name Barrington ERLE. ERLE Stanley Gardner, yes. This guy, hell no. Crossing an Italian final vowel ... eh. Whatever. I'd complain, but I just liked the puzzle too much to let a stupid little vowel diminish my pleasure.
I liked the puzzle primarily because, as with last week's, it felt good like a late-week puzzle should. It required thought, but I made steady progress, and even the nutso stuff was ultimately gettable through fair crosses with spot-on clues. At first, I thought I was going to have to complain slightly about the puzzle's being too easy, because I strolled around the east side of the grid and the puzzle never laid a hand on me. I scored at will. Put down MER (28A: La _____ Caspienne) and then SUSANN (34A: "Valley of the Dolls" novelist) and then VEGAN / NOPE (11D: One on a strict diet + 24A: Casual rejection) with absolutely no problem. Then, with no crosses, I put down BISCOTTI at 36A: Crunchy cafe treats ... and it was right? Too good to be true. Those long Downs in the east fell quickly and before I knew it I was halfway done with a Krozel Saturday and I had nary a scratch on me.
Then I crossed the BE MINE line (36D: Words from the heart?), and things slowed down somewhat. The W and NW were the slowest, and last, to fall. Up top, I threw SCARLET TANAGERS (17A: Grosbeak relatives) across the grid - smiling all the way, as that is a bird I learned from xwords, and very recently at that. I was less sure about the INTERNAL part of INTERNAL REVENUE (seemed too obvious) (15A: Estate taxes, e.g.), so I waited on the crosses to confirm that. Downstairs, ON ONE'S PLATE was obvious, but I figured it could be LOTS or ALOT in the first position, so I waited (50A: Tons of work to do). Also waited on the PLEASURE part of PLEASURE CRUISES (53A: Carnival offerings). Then it was just a matter of getting those long western Downs to drop.
STAND ON ONE'S TOES came pretty easily (3D: Try to get a better view, say), but UNCONDITIONALLY (2D: Without reservations), despite being a pretty obvious answer, was occluded by an entry about which I was dead certain, and dead wrong: I had IBO for EDO at 25A: Nigerian native or language. And, I'll have you know, my answer was a correct answer - just not for this grid. Defintion of IGBO (also IBO):
- A member of a people inhabiting southeast Nigeria.
- The Benue-Congo language of the Igbo. (answers.com)
The Bini (also known as the Edo or Benin) are an ethnic group in Nigeria. They are the descendents of the people who founded the Benin Empire, which was located in south/mid-western Nigeria. The Bini speak Edo language, one of many languages in Nigeria. (answers.com)
EDO is common in crosswords as the former name of Tokyo under the Tokugawa Shogunate, 1603-1868. But EDO got the ERLE treatment today - a reasonably familiar word given a powerfully obscurifying clue. It happens. Anyway, IBO meant that I was UNC--B... where UNCONDITIONALLY was supposed to go. Eventually, I did the reasonable thing and accepted my lack of expertise on things Nigerian. I let IBO go, and magically, the grid righted itself. I ended up finishing the puzzle at the heart of one of the crosswordesiest words in the puzzle: ERG (30D: Dyne-centimeter). That section, with the very unknown APTERAL (22D: Having no aisles, in architecture), and the only barely familiar SINGER (35A: _____ Building, company headquarters erected in 1908 in New York City, at the time the tallest building in the world), had me walking rather than sprinting toward the finish line. The clue on SINGER probably shouldn't have "erected" in it, given the presence of ERECT elsewhere in the grid - at SIT ERECT (34D: Be no slouch in class?). But I doubt anyone noticed or cared.
- 1A: Big catch of 2003 (Hussein) - Figured it probably wasn't a fish. And ELIAN was four years earlier. And didn't fit.
- 20A: It's north of the Dodecanese Islands (Samos) - I had SAMOA for a few seconds.
- 42A: Looped vase handle (ansa) - hi-end crosswordese. I can spell "hi-end" that way today, and today only, because HI-SPEED (1D: Like many Net connections) has given me license. Man, that answer threw me. "Is the Internet Hispanic?"
- 45A: Title apiarist of a 1997 film (Ulee) - wow, this puzzle has a Lot of crosswordese. I guess good cluing and a lively grid can make the tedium of common fill virtually disappear. Cool.
- 48A: French shooting match (tir) - new to me, though I remember "tirer" meaning (among other things) "to shoot, as a gun," so this answer must be related.
- 49A: Cager who starred in "Kazaam" (O'Neal) - he's a double-threat, name-wise - SHAQ is another grid favorite.
- 55A: Intrepid palace employees (tasters) - just saw a skit featuring a royal taster on the newish TV show "Important Things, with Demetri Martin," which I think helped me get this answer fast. I can't find that clip, so here's ... a clip:
|Important Things with Demetri Martin||Wed 10:30pm / 9:30c|
|Brains - Jokes About Brains|
- 6D: Serpent's tail? (-ine) - ah, a suffix. I had TEE.
- 8D: Five-time winner of the Copa do Mundo (Brasil) - super-easy if you just translate the phrase to "World Cup"
- 10D: Prizes for video production (AVAs) - Hmm, I know the VMAs. But not these.
- 27D: Object of Cavaradossi's affection (Tosca) - never seen it, never heard it, don't know what it's about, and even though it shows up pretty often, I never have a problem. It's always one of my first opera-related guesses.
- 40D: Southern snappers, briefly (gators) - piece of cake.
- 43D: Old tombstone abbr. meaning "at the age of" (aetat) - wow, freaky. Here we go: "abbreviation of aetatis, abbreviation of anno aetatis suae, 'in the year of his or her age'; aged"; so, in case you missed that, AETAT is an abbreviation of an abbrevition, and you Do Not see that every day.
- 51D: O.T. book (Num.) - I had NEH at first
- 52D: Title of respect in 8-Down: Abbr. (Sra.) - the "of respect" part threw me. It's just a title, short for SENHORA, right? I guess it's more "respectful" than other things one might call a woman, but still, wouldn't [Title in 8-Down: Abbr.] have worked just as well?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Saturday LA Times solvers: check out Orange's write-up at "L.A. Crossword Confidential"