Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013, Ian Livengood & J.A.S.A. Crossword Class


We've learned that Ian Livengood is the teacher of the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class. I guess this puzzle is a sort of final project. Just thought you might like to know.

After a slow start, the puzzle fell in fits and bounds. Got both 15s when the crosses made them obvious. Had no idea that DJANGOUNCHAINED was an "36A: Oscar-nominated film featuring a dentist-turned bounty hunter," but 8D: "Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat" duo (CALVINANDHOBBES) rang a distant bell.

NAOH (30A: Caustic soda, chemically) and OTOH (43A: Contrarian's abbreviation) both looked unpleasant, but one's scientific and one is solidly current, so one can't really complain. Also, they're symmetrical, which, I feel, shows a certain understanding that both share a certain "odd" status, and I like that. Had DADST_BE (36D: Some Lamaze assistants), and briefly despaired, not knowing OBOTE (58A: Leader of Uganda's independence movement), but slowly the proper parsing became clear.

My favorite of the stacked eights that ran around the grid was MASTHEAD (14D: Who's who in publishing?). We finished up in that difficult NE quadrant. STS (10D: E, F, and G in D.C.) took forever! I was forever expecting something musical. And TILLY (11D: Jennifer of "Bound") was purely a guess. Her name sounded remotely familiar. I'm sure others who are more attuned to current cinema and/or the regular world had less difficulty with that one than we did. And REDSCARE (13D: Cause for some blacklisting) came at the blacklisting from a different place - we were thinking of things like "being a communist," but I suppose no one would have worried about being a communist if the "Red Scare" weren't already a thing. I mean, I'm sure there are communist sympathizers living today, but who cares, really, because the scare is over.

Loved METER (48D: What stress may be good for), and EST (59D: What means the most at the end?).

Didn't love it, but it was a decent Friday challenge.

- Horace


  1. I thought this was a very, very high quality Friday. Virtually no junk, and much tremendous, unusual fill. Love your comments about NAOH and OTOH; alphabet soup that could easily be crap is instead erudite and fresh. Same with STS, what with its novel cluing. Thought of sister Sue at 34-Across: ""So-called 'potted physician.'" She has one of those--potted--does she not? JUICEBOX was nicely clued, and it brought a wave of nostalgia since my daughter has consumed so many over the years. Somewhat surprisingly, I actually knew 15-Across without any downs. I do read the business news once in a while. That was from MY favorite of the stacked eights (although all were of superior quality). I mean, re-read those clues for 1, 15, and 17-Across: that is creative, descriptive, clever cluing! And really this whole puzzle is full of that. This guy's classes should make more puzzles for the Times! It occurs to me now that I should devise a rating system for these puzzles. I'll work on that over the rest of the break. Right now I'm thinking scores for humor, lack of crap fill, originality of cluing, originality of answers, descriptive/informational content, wow factor--what else?

  2. 23:49. Outstanding Friday, IMO. I agree with ET59 - the cluing is very clever. I loved 1A. I had the H from HMS relatively early, so I was expecting something to do with splash, and it was only when I realized that iNaSEC was wrong and I hit on CALVINANDHOBBES that I was able to switch it around. I loved ASHKENAZI for Einstein, and OBAMACARE was beautifully inserted. The "potted physician" was cute. I actually started with 10D, Horace! Must be because I'm just on my way to DC for a few days. Very high quality.

  3. 74 mins.
    Thumbs up here, too. I had 1A starred as particularly clever. 20A '50s-'60s sitcom nickname (BEAV) had me stumped for way too long, and I loved both NAOH (which I knew right away) and 34A So-called "potted physician" (ALOE) thinking of Sue. CALVINANDHOBBES was fantastic, and 9D Bounty letters (HMS) was great cluing, too. ASHKENAZI came a bit later (I first put in germaNjew), but not too much later since the crosses went pretty quickly. And Horace, I'd never heard of Ms. TILLY either, probably because I've never watched "Bound."