Turkey's third-largest city / SUN 11-4-12 / Surround with shrubbery / Fiji competitor / First capital of Alaska / Home of Gannon Univ / Operating system between Puma Panther / he that strives with god / Environmental portmanteau / Lux composer Brian
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "Frankly Speaking" — phrases containing words that look just like French words (with different meanings); phrases are clued as if the words in question were, in fact, French.
- 3D: Prizefighter in a Parisian novel? (ROMAN GLADIATORS) — Roman = novel
- 5D: Expert at brewing oolong in Orléans (THÉ ARTIST) — Thé = tea
- 82D: French-speaking country where illegal activity runs rampant? (CRIME PAYS) — Pays = country
- 54D: Overseeing a Bayonne bakery? (PAIN MANAGEMENT) — Pain = bread
- 25A: Marseille mothers who are not goddesses? (MÈRE MORTALS) — Mère = mother
- 40A: Working on one's biceps and triceps in Toulon? (TRAINING BRAS) — Bras = arm
- 59A: Cowardly end in Cannes? (YELLOW FIN) — Fin = end
- 80A: Bordeaux bear cub? (ONE OF OURS) — Ours = bear
- 94A: Online feline in Lyon? (INTERNET CHAT) — Chat = cat
- 113A: Nine to five, generally, in Grenoble? (OFFICE TEMPS) — Temps = time
Word of the Day: IZMIR (78A: Turkey's third-largest city) —
Izmir (Turkish: İzmir, Greek: Σμύρνη Smyrni, Latin Smyrna) is a large metropolis in the western extremity of Anatolia and the third most populous city in Turkey. Izmir metropolitan area extends along the outlying waters of the Gulf of İzmir and inland to the north across Gediz River's delta, to the east along an alluvial plain created by several small streams and to a slightly more rugged terrain in the south. The ancient city was known as Smyrna, and the city was generally referred to as Smyrna in English, until the Turkish Postal Services Law of 1930 made "Izmir" the internationally recognized name. (wikipedia)
• • •
Wow, that's a lot of theme answers. I think the theme idea here is clever, though I'm having trouble envisioning anyone but the most die-hard Francophile really loving this puzzle. The fact that the wordplay crosses languages kind of limits the ha-ha potential. Also, do non-French speakers really know the French word for "bear?" That seemed rough. Not rough for me, as I had 7+ years of French in school, but rough for people (most NYT solvers, probably) whose French is limited to maybe a couple years in high school and whatever smattering of words you need to solve crossword puzzles (IDÉE, TÊTE, etc.). So it's impressive, this puzzle, but in a thinky kind of way, and in a way that perhaps not everyone will appreciate.
[Frankly singing ...]
ONE OF OURS was, for me, the hardest. Couldn't see SAD LOT forever (74A: Pathetic group), still to refuse to believe that U OF A is a thing (despite the fact that alums like constructing great Merl Reagle have told me that it is, in fact, a thing) (70D: Tucson school, briefly), and had no idea that NAYA is a ... what is that, a water brand? Fiji? (85A: Fiji competitor). I tend to drink tap water. I know DASANI and AQUAFINA ... and EVIAN (which Charlie Sheen orders in one scene in "Wall Street," btw, which I'm only telling you 'cause I just saw it). So, yeah, big struggle there. Lesser struggle in and around IZMIR, which I did not know. I was very lucky to have remembered SITKA (I've been writing about the language of crosswords, and having written the Alaska / Hawaii section definitely helped here) (92A: First capital of Alaska). Least favorite answer is reasonably LEGIT, but I wasn't able to parse it at all until I already had every letter—ERIEPA, or, to punctuate it correctly, ERIE, PA (106A: Home of Gannon Univ.). Ugh. Not a fan of this type of answer. Though ... I don't know, NOMEAK looks kind of cool.
- 69A: Like an infant's fingers, typically (PUDGY) — Got this quickly. I'm fond of this clue because I know Brendan has an infant at home. At least ... how long is a child an "infant?" I know it means "not having language," so ... is that the threshold? Or is it used more generally than that? I think Brendan's daughter is roughly one, but ... man, she could be seven, for all I know; I have an incredibly bad sense of the passage of time. Speaking of: clocks back tonight.
- 110A: First college frat to charter a chapter in all 50 states (SIG EP) — I don't usually resent having to know stuff, but stuff about frats ... yeah.
- 100A: Who said "I owe the public nothing" (J.P. MORGAN) — THEONEPERCENT would make a nice, topical crossword answer.
- 120A: Surround with shrubbery (HEDGE IN) — I would've gone with the much more in-the-language ENHEDGE. I am also joking. I just saw "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (again) a few days ago, so I am cool with this clue.
- 1D: QB Donovan (McNABB) — there is something very, very wrong with my brain, apparently, because the first answer that popped to mind was LANDON (wrong sport).
- 81D: QB legend nicknamed "the Golden Arm" (UNITAS) — a QB-heavy puzzle. "Golden Arm" reminds me of the Nelson Alger novel "The Man with the Golden Arm." I'm guessing UNITAS was not a heroin addict, though.
- 100D: Operating system between Puma and Panther (JAGUAR) — nice clue. I think I hopped on at Leopard, so this one took some piecing together.
P.S. Listening to Elvis Costello's "My Aim Is True" and loving it. Thanks, Saturday puzzle.