Vingt-et-un, e.g. / SAT 4-13 / Conductor Leibowitz / Part of the Ring of Fire / Gessen who wrote the 2012 Putin biography "The Man Without a Face" / Modern resident of ancient Ebla
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Constructor: MARTIN ASHWOOD-SMITH
Relative difficulty: WHO KNOWS REALLY?
Hey, everybody! PuzzleGirl here with your Saturday puzzle. I tell you what. I had a long day at work, I have a headache, and my Nats just lost a game they shouldn't have lost. So maybe I'm not the best person for the job. Or maybe talking about the puzzle will take my mind off my troubles. Let's find out ....
Here's the cool thing about doing crosswords as a hobby. If you just keep doing them, you get better. You recognize some of the cluing tricks, you know some words that you wouldn't have known had it not been for other puzzles, and you don't completely panic when you see a grid like this one. When I first started doing puzzles daily and reading this blog, I thought for sure you people who talked about completing a Saturday puzzle were lying. Just flat out lying. I didn't think it was actually humanly possible to finish one of these guys. But now, a few years and a few hundred (thousand?) puzzles later, I can almost always finish a Saturday.
I zipped through the top of this puzzle pretty quickly. And I kept having that "Hah! You can't fool me!" feeling. For example, I looked at 17A: Not have a hunch and thought to myself slyly "Oh, you mean like a hunch...BACK?!?" Or 7A: How some instruments are sold. "Oh, you mean ... FINANCIAL instruments?! HA!" And it just kind of went like that until the top part was all filled in. Then I skipped down to the bottom and had much the same experience.
AGUA (a guess), URNS, and IF AT were the keys there (29D: Arizona's ___ Fria River / 30D: Some of a caterer's inventory / 33D: "___ first ..."). As for GROVES OF ACADEME, well, that's not a phrase I've ever heard in my life (37A: Ivory tower setting). That's the only one where I got the end first, and the beginning could just has well have been GRAVES OF for all I knew.
The only other WTF moment for me was AMERCE (26D: Punish by fine). I don't doubt it's a word and a completely legitimate one -- it's just not one I personally am familiar with.
Other than that, highlights for me include:
- PEARL JAM (1A: "Spin the Black Circle" Grammy winner of 1995).
- RENO (24A: City near Pyramid Lake). Hi, PuzzleSister!
- 40A: "Boxing Helena" star Sherilyn FENN. When I went to find a picture of her, it turns out she's not at all who I thought she was. She sure looks a lot like Julianna Margulies in some of her pictures though. And now that I say that, I realize I said exactly the same thing back on August 27, 2010, over at my old blog and even put together a little visual aid for you. See?
- LAFF (42A: Comic response, in Variety). That spelling makes me laff.