Jul 5, 2008

Saturday, July 5, 2008 Tom Pruce


Have you seen Diane Lane's "Unfaithful" before? If not, you should immediately netflix it after solving this puzzle, which has quite a few answers evocative of the erotic thriller: TWO TIME (8A: Be unfaithful to), STAMINA (43D: Lasting power), STARE, ENDEARS, AGITATO (3D: Energetically, in music), ACT, ENTRE nous (51D: Just between us), TRYSTED (44D: Had a rendezvous), IMMORAL (12D: Iniquitous), TOUSLE (8D: Dishevel), ERRED, RUER, and of course our twisted LEIS.

Ali Farka Touré's "Ai du" is heard during the steamy foreplay and the bathtub scene. Last time Melissa linked Touré's son's version of "Ai du". So good. His "Diaraby' used to accompany me to sleep.

Nothing striking about this puzzle. Once again, too many affixes (S, ER, etc), which render the puzzle highly solvable but unappealing and unsatisfying. I think I crave some exotic themeless.

I did get stumped by letters M & F in two pockets of the grid today. MEGAERA (15A) was completely foreign to me, and I did not know anything about composers/operas, so I wobbled and wobbled and finally went with letter L (among H, L, M, N, P, T and W) for SMETANA, and it turned out to be an expensive mistake.

I also totally forgot about SKIFF ( 26D: Small rowboat), so I had trouble obtaining SFAX (38A: Tunisian port). That's a tough F, isn't it? I was totally screwed here. How can F follow S?

Some of the answers sound so made-up to me, so iffy:

33A: Worthy of confession: AVOWABLE

7D: In an impish manner: RASCALLY

38D: Most composed: SEDATEST

Are you OK with them?


15A: One of Furies: MEGAERA. The other 2 are Alecto & Tisiphone, the "terrible winged goddesses with serpentine hair, who relentlessly pursue and punish doers of unavenged crimes". And they carried "torches and whips" to torment the bad evildoers. This is William-Adolphe Bouguereau's "The Remorse of Orestes"(or "Orestes Pursued by the Furies"). He stabbed his mother to death, no wonder those Furies were furious.

16A: Shell's crew member: OARSMAN. I would have penned in OILMAN if there were only 6 BLANKS (48D: Empty spaces). Bravi to those tenacious Irish who stood up against the Shell Crown.

17A: Medicinal concoctions: ELIXIRS

22A: Irregularly worn: EROSE. Would not have got ORNE (10D: Caen's river) without the E from EROSE.

27A: Ms. from Cadiz: SRTA. "Ms"? Why so vague today? "Miss" is too hot to handle? And another Spanish word is DIOS (42D: Deity in Madrid).

28A: Fertilizer ingredient: NITER

35A: Balbo and Calvino: ITALOS. Dimly remember Calvino. Not familiar with Balbo. Probably a gimme to those ITALOphiles.

37A: Deuterium discoverer: UREY (Harold C.). New to me. Got it from the down fills.

39A: Moisten: DAMPEN. Lots of "EN" combination in today's grid.

42A: Thaws out: DEFROSTS

52A: "Six O'Clock" painter John: SLOAN. No, no, the painting is titled "Six O'Clock, Winter".

57A: "The Maltese Falcon" co-star: ASTOR (Mary)

60A: Nuclear cease-fire: TEST BAN

64A: Following a course: ON TRACK. Straying with me! Do you dare?

65A: Feminist Gloria: STEINEM. I always associate her with the "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle" one-liner.

67A: Filaments: THREADS


1D: "The Bartered Bride" composer: SMETANA. Simply too ERUDITE (62A: Learned) a clue for me. Unattainable M intersection with 15A: MEGAERA.

2D: ___ Jaffa, Israel: TEL AVIV And 56A: Israeli statesman Abba: EBAN

3D: ___ Romana: PAX (Roman goddess of peace). The Greek equivalent is "Irene".

13D: Conductor's title: MAESTRO. Or Alan Greenspan's title given by Bob Woodward.

36D: Nerve parts: AXONS. The impulse transmitters.

40D: Eisenhower's boyhood home: ABILENE (KS). Not a familiar place to me. Wikipedia says that the Greyhound Hall of Fame is located there.

41D: Harasses: MOLESTS

63D: Buy the farm: DIE. Is "Buy the farm" a common phrase? I've never heard of it. Maybe it's just an Asian thing, but I really dislike seeing "DIE" clued in such a depressing way. I wouldn't mind if it's clued as the movie title "DIE another Day". There are hundreds of cheerful ways to clue this "Casino cube".



melissa bee said...

good morning c.c. and all,

i did this one online as well .. took me forever. megaera? smetana? most composed is sedatest? i'm sure i never would have finished this with a pen or pencil - definitely needed the online help with this one.

c.c. i'm glad you liked unfaithful. you're right that alot of today's words fit right in with it. i also love diaraby .. and anything ry cooder.

again some unseemly words today: die and molests. to molest is to harass??

Anonymous said...

Not so easy as I didn't know 65A, 38A, 1D or 15A. Had to Google and use my X/W dictionary...

C.C. Burnikel said...

Hey Melissa,
Good to hear from you so earlier. Yes, MOLEST does have a "Harass" meaning. Is AVOWABLE a solid word to you?

Are you the Anonymous @5:41am & 5:43am yesterday morning? Can you pick up a name please? I am interested in what you have to say.

melissa bee said...

c.c., i suppose avowable is acceptable .. i don't love it.

NYTAnonimo said...

I didn't get SMETANA, MEGAERA or AVOWABLE-had SETUP instead of SEWUP before I gave up! Music of SMETANA.

Also enjoyed hearing about your mnemonic for the presidents melissa bee. Thanks!

We had a rainy 4th but I think it's going to clear up today. Hope you all have a great weekend!

NYTAnonimo said...

Another mnemonic thought not quite as memorable as yours!

Dennis said...

Good morning, C.C. and DF's - I solved this one weirdly -- got stapler, then ended up going down the middle, got the SE & SW, back up to NE, and finally back to NW, where I got stopped cold by the tag team of Smetana and Megaera. I hate having to google for one stinkin' letter.

Melissa, doing an allnighter? Isn't it the middle of the night there? Also, 'molest' has a primary meaning of 'harass'; the sexual definition is actually secondary. I didn't know that either.

C.C., Elmer Fudd used to say, "you wascally wabbit". And 'buy the farm' was/is a pretty common expression in the military, at least.

Another rainy day today, and more forecast for tomorrow. Hope it's a better weekend where you are.


lois said...

Good morning CC & DF's:I liked this puzzle and loved the links CC..the Furies esp. I wonder if Mr. Pruce is expressing some issues with his unfaithful theme. Harass to me is not molest and avowable is hardly worthy of confession. I think Mr. Pruce needs to get lei'd or find a priest and be exorcised. Get rid of the demons! 63D Die was a mite strong and could be the telltale sign of trouble somewhere.

Dennis said...

Lois?? Immoral? Stamina? Trysted? Agitato? I thought you'd be off and running with this one. Must've been a good night...

Anonymous said...

I remember the phrase "Buy the farm" being used in one of the films about our early space programs. When a test pilot was killed, his widow received enough $$ to 'buy the farm' her husband always talked to buy the farm became slang for being killed.

Argyle said...

Good morning, everyone,
Troublesome today. I feli avowable was ok but the clue led me astray.

My woes (whoas):
1D clue & ans. The Bartered Bride by Smetana (an opera)
3D ans. Agitato
7D ans. Rasscally - I was thinking of rapscallion. Now that I think about it, Bugs Bunny was described as a rascally rabbit. or ,as Dennis said, "wascally wabbit".
15A ans. Megaera
25A clue & ans. Roald Dahl
33A ans. Avowable - Google had no hits on 'avowable "worthy of confession"'
34D ans. Benes - didn't know the spelling.
35A clue & ans. Balbo and Calvino - Italo
37A ans. Urey
38A ans. Sfax
52A clue & ans. "Six o'clock " painter - Sloan

KittyB said...

Good morning, c.c. and all,

Dennis, I had to go to to get one letter, so I know how you feel. Frustrating, isn't it?

For some strange reason, the perps are frequently easier for me. I started this puzzle and had so much white left at the end of the across clues I figured I wouldn't be able to finish it, but most of it fell in place with the perps.

Where and others get the science clues due to their background, the same is true for me with the music.

Megaera (love the painting c.c.!)
Arr were all new to me.

c.c., did you give an explanation for the clue "JFK Notice?" I don't get it.

nytanonimo, thanks for the link to Smetana. It was a pleasant listen on a quiet weekend morning.

Lois! (checking your forehead...) You missed all those opportunities! I hope you're okay! *G*

I'll accept that "harass" is one of the definitions for "molest," but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Beautiful weather here in Chicago. After I get Mother settled, I'm going to play in the gardens. Have a great weekend, all!

NYTAnonimo said...

I think JFK notice is ARR for arrival time as @JFK in NYC kittyb. Glad you enjoyed the link.

Barry G. said...

Morning, all!

Getting a bit of a late start this morning as I actually slept in for a change. I hope everybody had a fine 4th of July. The weather cooperated nicely and our barbecue went off without a hitch.

Good puzzle today. Challenging enough to be interesting, but not so obscure as to be frustrating. I'd never heard of MEGAERA before, but fortunately was well acquainted with SMETANA and his piece "The Moldau." Also never heard of SFAX or UREY, but was able to get it easily from the perps.

Had some problems in the NE quadrant because I stubbornly refused to put anything other than SNRA ("Senora") for 27A and had UNKNOWN for 18A instead of UNNAMED. Once I realized my mistakes, however, everything else fell into place nicely.

[Oh, and KittyB -- I believe "OBO" is actually the abbreviation for "Or Best Offer" and not simply the word "Obo".]

Anonymous said...

Pax Romana (Latin for "Roman peace") was the long period of relative peace and minimal expansion by military force experienced by the Roman Empire in the first and second centuries AD. Since it was established by the Emperor Augustus it is sometimes called Pax Augustea. Its timing was approximately from 27 BC to 180 AD.

Anonymous said...

As we have been discussing the uses of bravo and bravi, the plural is bravi. Therefore, it should be"bravi to those tenacious Irish...."

Anonymous said...

Oops. I meant discussing bravo and brava, bravi being plural.

Crockett1947 said...

Good morning, everyone. A slow start, but I was able to ferret out everything finally. New words/names for me today were MEGAERA, ITALOS, UREY, SFAX, SLOAN, ASTOR, BENES. I'm not a TV watcher, so those references are usually difficult for me. C.C., was 63D a new idiom for you? The title of the SLOAN piece seems to be "Six O'Clock, Winter." Why not have the complete title in the clue? C.C., I see you have the same beef. Kittyb, ARR is an abbreviation for Arrival, which would be posted at JFK, PDX, LAX or any airport you wish to name. I see nytanonimo also answered this question. Barry, you're spot on about OBO.

carol said...

Hi C.C. and gang,
Not an easy one for me today!! So many I didn't know:
Smetana, Niter, Agitato, Avowable (a "real" word?), axons, Urey, Sfax

Dennis: Rascally, yes, that is like wascally wabbit :)

I see we have that cute Idaho city (55A) with us again.

We had a typical Portland 4th, showers off and on..and it's raining this morning but should be hot (for us:80's) next week, which is also typical.

Hope you all are enjoying this weekend.

Lois, I expected to see you "on track" and enjoying "trysting" with "oarsmen". Don't "dampen" their expectations or be afraid of becoming "immoral" 'cause it's too late, baby! :) :)

C.C. Burnikel said...

I've corrected my Bravo mistake, thank you. Please always feel free to let me know if you spot any error.

Yes, 63D is a new idiom to me. "Unfaithful" is a movie.

I thought you would like the Three Furies painting, with all those whips and torches.

You are amazing! You make the bland 55A perking up.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Is your military meaning of "Buy the Farm" the same with J. Oruska's (7:47am) "being killed"?

I strayed with you along the way.

Anonymous @9:31am,
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

"Bought the farm" was additionally eulogized in a Viet Nam era fighter pilot song called "Dear Mom". The chorus is: Dear Mom, your son is dead, he bought the farm today, He crashed his OV-10 on Ho Chi Minh’s highway. He made a rocket pass, and then he busted his ass. Hmm, Hmm, Hmm.
The rest is mostly unprintable.


lois said...

Crocket: thank you! Missed that ARR/JFK connection. Won't miss it Tues though.
Kittyb: It's Grand Central here in Mayberry. Boy, let the word out that changes are afoot and the barnyard gets crowded! Hens cluckin, roosters crowin', cows come home, and horses start buckin'.Big flap! You know what the bulls are doin'. Their sh## is flyin' and gettin' deep.
Dennis: Yeah, fireworks were exceptionally explosive and the Roman Candles were roamin' all right...lit me up for sure! What a play! What a performance! He challenged my stamina. I challenged his eros(e)..not once but 'two time'(s)straight 'entre' nous. 'Agitato' was dampened to 'largo', and then I rebid for a tryst, OBO by the end of the 2nd
'act'. My hair was a little tousled when his 'astor' through the field trying to escape and I had to get him back on track. The Furies helped him become learned in the art of endearing harasses without molesting. It was truly worthy of confession! He is no longer erose, but quite erudite in the art of tryst-ing and being lei'd. Love the 4th of July!
Carol: you are hysterical! And You're right. Too late to pretend to be moral. I related real well to this puzzle with all those exciting words and the I da ho connection. Just needed time.

Pax out! Enjoy this gorgeous day!

Terri said...

Ok, am I the only one who couldn't see a empty space as a blank? None of my dictionaries used blank as term for empty. What a duffus I am! I thought the puzzle very tough obscure: Sfax, entrack, erose were all out of my league.
Lois, love your story.

C.C. Burnikel said...


KittyB said...

(smacking my forehead" Well, DUH!!
Obviously, I was thinking of the man, and not the airport named for him. Thanks nytanonimo and crockett for setting me straight. I've been a world traveller and understand about ARRivals and departures, but I sure missed the boat with this one!

Barry, thanks for the help with "OBO." I've never sold a house, or bartered at the antiques market for anything of consequence, or I might have learned that term.

Terri said...

C.C. Just as I was thinking about it, I realized that entrack means in donator not donater, making it on track...still a duffus!

Anonymous said...

I would appreciate having a crossword puzzle with no geographical names,no Hebrew words, and no sports figures. A puzzle that relied primarily on English words only. Can you do it?

melissa bee said...

@dennis: i like the sentence 'i solved this one weirdly.' a perfectly dysfunctional description. thx for the info re: molest / harrass. and if i were pulling an allnighter i doubt i'd be coherent enough to solve any puzzle.

@nytanonimo: thanks for the mnemonic links.

@lois: holy hotwick idaHO .. i'm sure oklahoma has never seen a 4th quite like that.

embien said...

I call foul on this one. What legitimate constructor would cross the "M" in SMETANA with MEGAERA?

What legitimate constructor would cross the "S" in BENES (a name that even a Seinfeld fan would have trouble dredging up), with another proper name (SLOAN), clued with an incorrectly-named artwork at that?

What legitimate constructor would cross a non-word (SEDATEST, not found at or in my giant unabridged dictionary) with the second-largest port in Tunisia (SFAX)? We only know the largest port (Tunis) because it's the base of the country's name. The second-largest port? Only in Crosswordville.

AVOWABLE? Well, perhaps. "Confession" does appear in the fourth sense of the meaning of "avow". But to cross that with SMETANA and AGITATO, that's a bit too much for my taste.

Put me solidly in the camp of non-fans of Tom Pruce. I did the puzzle, but the crossing of obscure term/proper name with obscure term/proper name and the inclusion of non-words leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

lois said...

embien: I take it you didn't like this puzzle?

C.C. Burnikel said...

Anonymous @7:08pm,
Wouldn't that be too boring?

Are you new to TMS puzzle? SLOAN has appeared in our crossword several times since I started blogging. Ditto your points on those irksome intersections.

"My hair was a little tousled when his 'astor' through the field trying to escape and I had to get him back on track." What is the real word hidden behind "astor"? I cannot understand. What is "Pax Out"?

lois said...

CC: when his ass tore through... and pax out is 'peace out', which is a slang good bye.

MH said...

out of town yesterday and had to solve this on sunday AM. Very difficult with lots of google time. Also lots of words that, while technically correct (I assume) are not used often. Like rascally. I *have* heard Elmer Fudd say "You wascally wabbit", so I assume it's a word.

C.C. Burnikel said...

What puzzle do you get on Sundays?

embien said...

@c.c. Embien, Are you new to TMS puzzle?

I've been doing the TMS puzzle for years--it's the one that appears in my local paper (The Oregonian), along with the syndicated NYT xword. I'm just relatively new to the blog, and maybe my rant was a bit too much.

I didn't recognize SLOAN, but I'm no art expert. My point really was not that SLOAN was so bad, but that the "S" crossed another proper name (BENES).

Unless you absolutely know one of the proper names, you're only guessing at the letter that goes in the cross. I guessed correctly, putting in the "S" (what else could it be with _LOAN in the grid?), but that's quite a bit different than actually solving the puzzle, IMHO.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Thanks for the response. Now I see your point. Your rant was on solid ground and I appreciate your sharing with us. I think crossword constructors value what we solvers think and some of theme do read this blog regularly.