Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013, Martin Ashwood-"Cordwood"-Smith


Mr. Ashwood-Smith loves to stack. Today he went a little easy on us, just giving the central quadstack, and I think it made for a more enjoyable puzzle than some of those double quadstack grids.

ANCHORAGEALASKA (26A: U.S. city that's almost as large in area as Delaware) is a great answer, and an interesting bit of trivia. We're not quite sure, though, why FOREIGNMINISTER needs to be 35A: Part of a French cabinet, instead of just any old cabinet. Frannie actually tried "premier ministre" in there, which fit, but was, obviously, not right. She also tried "epoux" for 18A: Ones united in France? (ETATS). "Epoux" means "spouses," and it would have been sweet, but that's maybe a little deeper into the language than even the NYT Crossword is willing to go. As it is, "etats" are states, and "Etats-Unis" is French for "United States."

We aren't familiar with TERRENCEMCNALLY (16A: "Corpus Christi" playwright), but we are familiar with SERGEANTOROURKE (52A: Forrest Tucker's "F Troop" role). Frannie thought of that one. We've allowed ourselves to rest on the "MeTV" network for a few minutes while we watched a little "F Troop," which is still in syndication on that retro channel. You've gotta switch the channel again, though, when the ads come on (they're all depressing - for geriatrics or for battered animals), so we haven't actually watched any full episodes. Also, the plots are idiotic, but we still have a soft spot for the show.

Anyhoo... we were a bit shocked to find a BLOODSTAIN (58A: Bit of forensic evidence) at the bottom of the grid, just below the macabre RIGORMORTIS (58A: What solidifies things in the end?) (kept looking for a glute-related answer... "stairmaster?"...). Horrors! And we finished (after an error) in the middle with VIP (25A: Big gun) (had "ceo" forever!) and VANESSA (25D: 1958 41-Down by Samuel Barber) (?). Also couldn't come up with ALIPASHA (17D: Ottoman ruler nicknamed "The Lion"), so that whole area took a bit of groping. Once we hit upon VIP, though, everything came together. Whew!

Favorite clue/answer pair today - 24A: Pickle (JAM). Beautiful.
Runner up - OTIS (19D: Manufacturer of boxy cars).

- Horace


  1. I won't give a time as I had to look up an answer or two in order to break in. I really wanted "wear a thong" for 6D (GOCOMMANDO). I liked that I got PHLOX off of FIXER (which Phoebe suggested, from her photography class she's taking this year). CALVE (make a little lower?) is nice, better than hALVE which I had at first. What's weird is how long it took me to get WORF (somehow I was stuck on the show "Enterprise" which I never saw). Nice that it crossed ARTOO, mating Star Wars with Star Trek. Hope got RIGORMORTIS off of __GOR____IS. Pretty nice!

  2. Good, hard Saturday. I finished with no glitches, but I confess I was slightly nervous about the CANA, ESO, VANESSA, FILIPPO area. Agree, Horace, that OTIS is terrifically clued. Your idea for an alternate answer to "What solidifies things in the end" is quite good. Maybe you can work that into your first puzzle. Colum, I made a mark by "Make a little lower," too. Really nice clue for CALVE. I had heard about Anchorage previously. I didn't remember the exact city, but I knew the huge one was up in Alaska. Of course it would be, right? Fairbanks also fits, so I didn't fill that one in until I got a few of the downs. We don't call them "ministers" in this country, do we? "Premier ministre"?? Seriously. NERTS to "F Troop." What a lame show. Could never carry the jock strap of "Hogan's Heroes."

  3. Hi guys... thanks for your review. There are a few more of my quad puzzles coming up, so I'm glad you like them.
    ... and, yes the lower right corner was a bit on the macabre side, but I think most solvers realized it was done with a sly wink, and didn't take it too seriously;)

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith

  4. Thanks for checking in! And don't worry, we took it just as you intended it. Our "shocked" act is done with a sly wink as well.