Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013, David Steinberg


David Steinberg, you crazy bastard! You put your name right through the middle of your own puzzle. And with that brazen flourish, you have won me over.

First, a little history (for all we have time for in our short-lived blog is a little). We have encountered his name twice already – the first time we finished, but not happily, the second time, after nearly four hours, we gave up. When I saw it again today I was worried, but after one pass, I was already changing my mind. The gimmies of PURPLEHAZE (1A: What's "all in my brain," in a 1967 rock classic), and PATSYCLINE (63A: "So Wrong" singer, 1962) got us started off pretty well, and put us into a better mood. 39A: Caterpillar roll ingredient (EEL) only added to our delight. After my first run-through, I handed it off to Frannie and promptly fell asleep.

I woke up before six this morning (highly unusual) thinking about the puzzle (not terribly unusual). It was more than halfway done by then, and I was able to fill in all but four squares in the NE. Before we get to those, let's take a minute to review some nice clues. ING (34A: Having one 49-Across) took me a while to understand, even after I got 49A: See 34-Across (SHARP), but finally I saw it as "In G" instead of "-ing," and it was like an F-sharp went off in my head! 60A: Figure taking a bow? (EROS) was another one that took a second look even after the answer was in. Not a bend-in-half bow, an arrow-filled bow! Nice. 61A: No-strings declaration? (IMAREALBOY) was very clever, too. I kept thinking of things like "I'm free..." or "I'm available."

The Downs were loaded with good clues as well, starting right away with 1D: Labor leader's cry? (PUSH), and 7D: Headbands? (HALOES). 26D: Building with many sides (DINER) makes me want to go right out and get an order of fries.

But now we have to get back home to the North East. We were missing the first and third letters of 11D and 13D. Frannie finally put in IONS for 13D: Makeup of some beams, which made BANS the only reasonable answer for 18A: Blacks out, which left us with only the first letter of 11D: Violent sandstorm (_ABOOB), and 11A: Dynasty founded by Yu the Great (_SIA). It's probably not "Asia," and there are only so many letters that usually appear before "S" in Asian languages. We put in "T" first, because it made the ridiculous sounding "TABOOB," and then guessed "H," and that was it. Whew!

- Horace


  1. 1:12:22
    FINISHED! First Saturday puzzle completed, and I guessed at DAVIDSTEINBERG without realizing, until I read your blog, that he was the puzzle author! Very good. The long clues weren't too hard, although they really required much thought, so much of the rest fell into place rather nicely, and not too far off from your own time. I mentioned again to your (Horace's) father today that he should start doing these puzzles and commenting on the blog. I showed today's to him and he got a kick out of a few of the clues and answers, though I failed to draw his attention to the very clever SHARP and ING clues. He didn't understand the IMAREALBOY right away. I happened to enjoy 44D What outer space is that cyberspace isn't? PHRASE. So this week I completed all puzzles from Sunday through Saturday for the first time.

  2. Congratulations! Yes, this was a very fine puzzle. Steinberg (only a teen-ager, I've heard!) is the first constructor's name that we learned, because we found him so diabolical. Today he was a little more mainstream, maybe, but still super clever. I'm glad that now I look forward to seeing his byline instead of dreading it.

    As for Dad doing the puzzles, I discussed this with EnglishTeacher59 a while ago, and he thought it was not likely that Dad could finish much beyond a Tuesday. I think he could do through Wednesday, with the occasional Thursday, but Friday and Saturday? Well, let's just say I'd be surprised. Pleasantly surprised, but still surprised.

  3. P.S. Our biggest DNF of the year so far was Steinberg's last puzzle, which ran as today's Syndicated Puzzle. Funny coincidence? or does Mr. Shortz do this kind of thing on purpose? It just happened last Saturday, too, with Martin Ashwood-Smith!

  4. Thanks for your review (and for letting me know about your blog—very cool!)! I'm glad you liked my puzzle—sorry my last one was so tough!

  5. I too absolutely loved this puzzle (Maybe partly because of a correct--somewhat educated--guess at the intersection of HABOOB and HSIA to avoid the dreaded DNF). So many clever clues and answers. I liked all of the ones you guys mentioned--especially the delightful IMAREALBOY. I read where Rex didn't get/like BANS for "Blacks out," but it makes perfect sense to me. Think about how many sporting events are not shown in some markets. "Circular stack" was another good one.