BEQ 6:02—Brendan's blog is here
CS untimed (J)
Joe Krozel's New York Times crossword
This grid is reminiscent of Doug Peterson's NYT and Newsday puzzles last Saturday, only with a few more black squares knocked out to accommodate vertical pairs of 15s along with the horizontal pairs.
The long answers:
The Zone of Trouble: This collision of four answers was the last to fall for me. 30A: [They have their limits] clues CITIES; I like the clue but was dumbfounded for a bit despite having CI**ES in place. The T was shared by STONE, or 28D: [Attack barbarously]; the N and E in STONE were not so easy to deduce. That's because the N was in fill-in-the-blank TISN'T, clued by way of ["___ beauty, so to speak, nor good talk...": Kipling]; the "nor" bit should have pointed me towards the negative in TISN'T, but it didn't. Then there's STONE's E, in LOYE, or 38A: [Ravel's "Ma Mere ___," a k a "Mother Goose"]. You up on your French goose-related words? If so, good for you. The final T in TISN'T and the second I in CITIES were part of HOIST, or 25D: [Jack, e.g.]; I had the playing card and "you don't know Jack" locked in my head and didn't think of the verb senses. So that whole pile-up of answers that weren't coming readily to me took a while to unravel.
That French word: Zut alors! What is BATTEAU doing in this puzzle?? 8A is clued as a [Small river craft: Var.] and it looks horribly, woefully wrong. To hear Wikipedia tell it, some nutty early Americans patented a "James River Batteau" with two T's, heedless of proper French orthography. So there's a rationale for allowing the word in a crossword, but anyone who's had a year of French likely cringed at the spelling. (The foreign language contingent may be happier with NEUE, 23A: [Modern, in Münster]—the plain form of the adjective is simply neu, but when it precedes a feminine noun (as in die Neue Deutsche Welle, or New German Wave of music). Spanish gets a turn too: TARDE is 43A: [Late, in León] and NENES are 29D: [Iberian infants].
Other remarks: COPSE is clued as 26A: [Little wood]. Surprising, isn't it, that spam of foreign origin has not yet resorted to using "copse" as a euphemism? 1D: [Part of a track team?] is a RAIL CAR; hey, I saw right through this clue. 4D: [Frameworks components] refers to window frames; the answer is SILLS. 7D: [Sponge skeleton parts] are SPICULES, and just this afternoon I edited a medical paper discussing pulmonary nodules with and without spiculation—SPICULES are little pointy bits.
Updated Friday morning:
Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Going to Pieces"–Janie's review
Okay, solvers, time to fire up the Patsy Cline. While she may "fall to pieces" (and do notice how her often her voice "breaks" as she sings her lament), Martin has provided the perfect complement: three lively, grid-spanning phrases whose first word describes how things "go to pieces." And that would be by:
This puzzle also benefits from the many words and phrases with high-scorin' Scrabble letters: IN-BOXES; SAFETY RAZOR; JOSTLES (misleadingly clued as [Elbows], which has a complement in KNEE clued as [Joint with a cap]); the crossings of EWOK and AMOK, and AZURE and IZOD; and SKOAL. (I also really like the way NOLA [Vincent Lopez's theme song], ENOLA and SKOAL are interlocked.) Oh—and then there's also AKIO [Sony cofounder Morita]. He's not in the puzzle, but the combination of letters in Mr. Morita's first name did put me in mind of crossword-puzzle regular, golf champ Isao Aoki. Good names to remember!
DANCERS feels far too understated a response to [Astaire and Rogers]—who were perhaps the most elegant, innovative and astonishing dance team of their generation. (Btw, Jerome KERN and Dorothy Fields wrote the memorable songs in their classic Swing Time.) Still, I loved seeing the word and the shout-out (however muted) in the grid. Ditto PALE ALE, which also comes "trippingly off the tongue," and the poetic COMES TO PASS for [Occurs]. And how about [Reception helpers]? Not WAITERS, but (these days, what with digital transmission...) the more RETRO [Backward-looking] AERIALS.
Am not sure of what to make of GUN-FIGHTING [Dueling Old West-style] running down the middle of the grid, but I do like the way it crosses all three of the theme phrases—and when ya have 11 spaces and three fixed Gs, well, that's pretty amazing fill now that I look at it that way!
Barry Silk's Los Angeles Times crossword
Barry takes four words that begin with HUM and finds phrases that begin with the second part of the HUM— word, and mashes them together like so:
Well, those aren't too droll, are they? HUMDRUM and HUMBUG are great words, but the theme feels a little flat to me.
One clue/answer dupe cavil: 52D: OLDS is clued as [Cutlass automaker], but 49D: AUTO appears in the grid as a [Monte Carlo, e.g.]. Would've been easy to use "carmaker" instead and pick up some alliteration to boot.
Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "String Quintet"
Brendan's running another crossword contest: Finish the puzzle, in which the theme entries spell out a riddle, and send him the answer to the riddle. Correct responses put you in the running to win one of five copies of Brendan's upcoming book, Diagramless Crosswords. The crossword itself is pretty tough, but the meta didn't take me as long to figure out. You're on your own for both of 'em—I'm not giving away answers for a contest puzzle.
September 03, 2009
BEQ 6:02—Brendan's blog is here