August 03, 2009

Brendan Emmett Quigley: Monday Themeless

Good morning, everyone. My name is Dan Naddor, and I've constructed lots of crossword puzzles, mostly themed ones for the Los Angeles Times. But I've never been a blogger before. I guess every bug gets to be the windshield every so often...

As you all know, BEQ is one of the most prolific (does that mean "anti-abortion"?) crossword puzzle constructors on the planet. And his breadth of knowledge, or at least access to knowledge, amazes me. He's not getting his fill words from a Cruciverb database, that's for sure. To have the imagination and ability to crank out new puzzles day after day is unbelievable.

Anyway, on to his themeless puzzle. As a constructor, I strive for minimum word and block counts, lots of long words/phrases plus an attractive grid with few black squares sitting by themselves. So what do we have here? 68 words, (28 6-letters or more), 26 blocks and a sharp-looking grid. Nice!

I'm not much of a solver, so I cheated and got the Across Lite solution. And a good thing, too, because you'd be reading this blog on Friday if I had. Tough words, tough clues. If this puzzle were a ski run it'd be black diamond all the way. My favorite fill and clues:California tax refund, perhaps: IOU; Lemon aid: CASH FOR CLUNKERS (great clue, juicy phrase); Walking on air: ORGASMIC (Maybe on "Sex and the City". Anywhere else, well, you get the picture); Peacemaker: SIXGUN and Shrimp, lobsters, etc.: CRUSTACEA. Good thing the British term for "bastard" is spelled differently than in the U.S., huh?

A few clunkers stuck out: AMAL, SNCC, ARDUA, ENAS, BAKULA. In my world at the LAT, none of these would fly. However, as a constructor I know that cool fill sometimes requires a bit of sacrifice in fill quality. For a tough puzzle like this one, a bit of obscurity is okay in my book. Did you recognize SIMON BOCCANEGRA? I didn't, but then again I'm no expert on titular pirates.

See you tomorrow! I'll be trying to keep up with the Jonesin'.