Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday, January 5, 2014, Alan DerKazarian



Kind of a mixed bag today, we thought. The idea of closed-off "rooms" nicely mirrored the game, but I was half-expecting a secret passage of some kind, and it never materialized. I have no idea how that would have been accomplished, but I think of it as an integral part of Clue. Oh well. As it was, Frannie got all of the actual answers in the SE quadrant before many of the other circled clues were filled in, which made them somewhat easier to figure out. It was a little odd that in the NW, all the circled words could follow "scarlet," in the NE, they were all synonyms of "lounge," and in the SW they were all anagrams of "rope." At least they were internally consistent. So, overall, the theme was fine, but not really transcendent.

The fill had some nice high points. PTERODACTYL (15D: Prehistoric menace) is awesome. ABANDONSHIP (75D: Captain's last order) is lovely. ROLLINGPINS (80D: Cartoony clubs) is fun.

I thought it odd that, having been a Cub Scout once, I didn't know AKELA (19D: Cub Scouts leader), but I see know that it is a British term (we always just said "Den Mother"), so I'm not surprised anymore. That L crossing with NALA (33A: "The Lion King" queen) was the last letter we entered today, and it was an educated guess based only on past crossword experience.

Didn't know CRENNA (138A: Actor Richard), NADIA (105A: Tennis's Petrova), or SENNETT (144A: Director Mack of early slapstick), but we did know ALBANO (93A: Wrestling star Lou), EMERIL (71A: "Bam!" man), OLIVA (12D: Tony the Twin) (!), and LAHR (132A: 1939 Garland co-star), so I guess it's pretty much a wash on proper names.

Nice intersection of tricky clues at 93A: Thing in doubt? (SILENTB) and 84D: Part of U.S.: Abbr. (INIT). That second one took some thinking even after it got filled it in! Ohhh…. initial! And I liked seeing EUROVAN (140A: 1990s-2000s Volkswagen vehicle) in there. From birth to college and beyond my family had a VW bus (four actually), and a Vanagon. Normal cars always seemed so damn small!

Lastly, when we only had ___EM at 46D: "I don't care what they do," I briefly considered "F them" as a possible answer. HAH! As if. Soon Frannie got ALIENATTACK (45A: Early Coleco hand-held game), and LETEM showed itself. Not bad.

I guess I warmed up to this one while we were solving. It's a fine Sunday.

- Horace


  1. Untimed. Funny how your opinion improved the more you wrote about it. I kind of agree. I actually liked that the way the shaded answers pointed to the final pieces of the puzzle varied from section to section. Of course, working from the NW down meant that the long answers to the SE "room" were immediately presented. Cece took first crack at it today, and tried out tyrannosaur for PTERODACTYL - too bad it wasn't correct! I like her chutzpah at just throwing a long answer in. I didn't get SILENTB until about 30 minutes after finishing the puzzle. I just looked at it and thought, huh. Now I like it a whole bunch.

  2. Hi. Anne got me the digital subscription for Christmas, due largely on the discussions of this blog this summer. I've been doing the puzzle for a week now and covertly enjoying this blog along the way. Of the seven puzzles so far, this was my favorite, clearly because I was always a big fan of Clue. I also had Scarlet at first, but pretzels had to be right. From there I had it. I did not literally fill in the circles in each quadrant first, but it sure seemed that way. I did go one quadrant at a time and ended with SE, in which I did literally fill in the circles before anything else. I love Clue!

    But yes, the SilentB was annoying and the INIT weak, methinks. I finished the entire puzzle, less that little section, in one sitting and stared at that spot off and on all day. I'm still finding a rhythm with Will Shortz, having only done his edited puzzles sporadically. But I'm looking forward to it. Already my heretofore daily Globe crossword is seeming weak by comparison.

  3. Well, what a surprise! Welcome to the fold. It'll be nice to have another opinion.

    I liked SILENTB, and whether you think it weak or not, you've got to be prepared for a steady diet of INIT-type answers. "Start to lean" = ELL, "Tight ends" = TEES, etc.

    1. BTW, I was Akela for several years. It's a native American word meaning simply "leader." It's most overtly used, in my experience, for the Cubmaster, but any leader qualifies.

  4. Untimed, but it filled right in from top to bottom. After finishing it I, too, had to stare at a couple of things. I was not a big Clue player, but having, in fact, played it once or twice, I knew the general idea behind the game. However, I'd forgotten about the secret passage until Horace mentioned it. I starred 69A Make a boner (ERR) both for its clue number's blue relationship to the clue and for the inventive clue for the often seen answer. I'm surprised that wasn't mentioned in the official review.