Thursday, September 27, 2007

Friday, Spetember 28 - Harvey Estes

Hello again, Howard B here, stepping in for the newly-relaxed Linda B in order to bring you a second helping of crunchy Friday goodness.

We have another fine example of a challenging puzzle featuring two triple-stacks of 15-letter words, with a whole slew of challenging vocabulary to ramp up the difficulty. Often, having several stacks of long words can actually make a puzzle slightly easier, since you can solve large chunks of the puzzle at a time once you figure out those big words. This puzzle resists quick solving, though, due to rather difficult middle and side sections which aren't very open, and require a bit of tough solving.

If this puzzle 1A (LEAVES A BAD TASTE), it may be due to some of those more obscure little words hiding here and there, including:
37D: Relating to heraldry (ARMORIAL),
30A: French study, e.g. (SALLE), and
21A Expert in ancient law (LEGIST).

If you keep at it, though, 17A (BY TRIAL AND ERROR) you may solve it, or at least eventually get a good portion of it done.

I especially liked the near-miss rhyme in the center of 36A(FONDLED) just above 40A(GONDOLA). Insert your own comment here. "30 Rock" creator TINA FEY (33A) sits just above these, either shaking her head in disbelief, or using it as a basis for a new skit. Also can't forget the rustic crossing of VARMINT and AGIN in the top-left. Fun words? Yer darn tootin'!

It's not an easy Friday, and many of the clues are very short and to the point, perhaps offering the solver a few less "gimme"s. Even these short clues were hiding plenty of trickery, such as 47A: Least spotted (RAREST) and 58D:Hearing aids, for short (PAs) as in "Public Address systems". Clever way to clue this inocuous 3-letter combo. Also the interesting phrase lurking at 41D: I MEAN NO, which is clued simply amd directly as "Emphatic turndown".

Oh, if you haven't seen this clue before, it's a good one:
52A: Something needed for your sake? (RICE) - If you didn't get this on the first go-round, don't feel bad; 'sake' = rice wine... it's all in the pronunciation. Sneaky little devil of a clue :).

Here's the puzzle (click for a larger photo. This will not, unfortunately, improve the handwriting.). Good luck with Saturday's puzzle, and have a great weekend!

- Howard B :)


Linda G said...

It's such fun to sit around and just read what all of you have work at all on my part.

We've had very little beach time. Our hotel for the first week is on a beach, but not one that's suitable for sunbathing, swimming or snorkeling. Yesterday we saw Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast via helicopter. Spectacular...and this from someone with a fear of heights. Today we took a catamaran up the Napali Coast, but the water was V-E-R-Y rough, and the boat had to turn back a little bit cheers from the group, many of whom had already been sick. Overall, it was a successful trip, with a lot of dolphin activity.

Tomorrow we head up to Princeville and the cliffs area. Several hiking trails are on the agenda. I've found the perfect margarita, made with fresh puree, at Brennecke's on Poipu Beach. But I'll keep checking out others ; )

Keep up the good work, guest bloggers and readers. I love and appreciate all of you.

coachjdc said...

Great write-up! This was a good puzzle. I did great on the top, OK in the middle and had a tough time with the bottom. Progressively harder, I guess the way it should be :-)
Google got me through the bottom. "FRIEDA"? she wasn't even listed on the official Peanuts page LOL
Glad you're enjoying your trip, Linda.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Coach...the commentary was excellent...almost as good as Linda's!!!!....this puzzle was a B***H to did not provide much assistance....needed to peek at the solved puzzle to finish!
Linda....glad that you are having a good time!

Howard B said...

Sounds like an almost-perfect vacation, Linda - enjoy every minute. I've heard amazing things about the helicopter tours there.

coach - I think I recall Frieda appearing in the animated specials and cartoons as a minor character. Why I remember that, instead of, say, the list of things to pick up at the supermarket, I have no idea.

And so to work.

QP said...

I loved RICE (52A) ! Somehow I got the bottom right away, but I had to peek at solution to finish up the top part. I always thought that VARMINT (4D) meant a "pest", not a predator... also had DAWN for OMEN (19A)... duh. Also, din't know the word TOOTLE

Anonymous said...

Great commentary. I found this one pretty brutal, especially in the middle, where SALLE, FONDLED, TETON and even EKES, clued obscurely, eluded me for a loooong time.

My first gimme? FRIEDA. Go figure.

cornbread hell said...

go figure.
today's puzzle was among my fastest ever friday times. about 24 minutes. (i realize some will scoff at that time and consider it slow.)

but before you think i'm saying something i'm not, get this...

i also did "today's" 6-weeks ago puzzle (8/17) today. according to linda's post about it, and the comments, it was an easy puzzle for most, yet it took me a couple of HOURS to complete. i thought it was hard as hell.

i do not not understand, but i'm still intrigued with the puzzling phenomenon of relative ease and difficulty.
i often read of being *on* or *off* of a puzzle's wave length...i think there's something to that concept.

great write up, howard.

Anonymous said...

Howard: reading your commentary always makes me smile. It really does. You have such a nice/funny way of saying things. I feel like I could get some sage advice from you (except for microwaves!). Anyway, thanks again.

Rick: I think you have a really good point there. Today's puzzle was a bit tough for me. Then some days I read the blogs and I find that a puzzle I found "easy" was troubling to others.

There could be some good discussion around this I think.

coachjdc said...

Cornbread & Kitt, it's all about points of reference (or wavelength) some puzzles you click with others.... I think once you reach a certain level of competence, "difficulty" becomes relative.

coachjdc said...

oh & BTW, this is "Coach"
I created a blog account & coachjdc has been my internet handle for years.

Howard B said...

Thanks, people. If nothing else, it'll make everyone appreciate Linda all the more when she returns ;).

cornbread - Congrats! Nobody around here is going to compare times competitively; the idea is the accomplishment one gets when you've solved a puzzle, and exceeded your own perceived limits of your ability (whether through knowledge, speed, amount of the puzzle finished, or whatever). It's really a fun little challenge, a way of pushing your mental limits.

It is true about the "wavelength" concept; the days of the week are a good general guideline for difficulty, and Mr. Shortz does a very good job of keeping a pretty consistent level of increasing difficulty from Monday to Friday, which can't be an exact science.
However, I know that depending on the theme, the cluing, and how much coffee or tea you've consumed, your difficulty and/or solving time can vary greatly.
There was a mid-week puzzle not long ago which had a theme cetered around an opera diva and her greatest works. Some people breezed through it, while I went down with the Titanic on that one. To counter that, I've had Saturday and slightly easier Sunday puzzles which just clicked for me, while others had a struggle. All part of the game, keeps things unpredictable.

cornbread hell said...

what a considerate and thoughtful comment. A+

i was just thinking about things like:
well, i'm pretty sure everyone else's trains are just moving at different rates of speed than mine and i was way too close to posting a rant about it, but you saved me from embarrassing myself.

in all seriousness, thank you, howard b.

wendy said...

Great commentary, Howard!

Isn't it just a manifestation of the way people are with one another ... some are on each other's wavelength, others are total disconnects. We may not personally know the constructor, but we can still be on a wavelength with a given one or two. I know that, now that I do these every day and pay attention to who the constructors are, there are several that I just rejoice over when I pull up the puzzle 'cause I know it's gonna be great. I mean, I had GREEK PHILOSOPHY today for ART APPRECIATION. I was thinking a completely different kind of "school" and chaos ensued. It wasn't a fun puzzle for me. But FRIEDA was a gimme because I have naturally curly hair and she was sort of a cultural icon for me at a time when that kind of hair was, shall we say, not revered. (Sort of a naturally curly version of 'I'm black and I'm proud' because she flaunted it instead of trying to straighten it)