Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014, Kameron Austin Collins


Much to like about this; I'd estimate three-quarters of the puzzle was well above average. A themeless Friday, as is expected, with 73 answers and a grid that divides the puzzle into five semi-independent areas. I zoomed through the NW, breaking in with 3D: Rugby formation (SCRUM), and 4D: Subject of Spike Lee's "When The Levees Broke" (KATRINA), leading to the nice pair of ten-letter answers of ARCADEFIRE and MARTINAMIS, a pairing of recent and much less recent knowledge I like seeing in a crossword. 1D: Pickup line? (RAMS) took me forever to understand (referring to the Dodge pickup trucks).

There's a great connection into the NE with 5A: Athletic short? (FIVEK - this always throws me for a loop) and 9D: Gaga contemporary (KESHA). I love CHAITEA, and the rest of the NE is fine as well, although 15D: Old-fashioned shelter along a highway (SPITAL) is a bit off the beaten path as it were. The SE also was very smooth, with another pair of nice 10-letter answers (TYLERPERRY and SPECIESISM).

Somehow, though, the middle of the puzzle and the SW took a very long time to break open. I'd never heard of 41A: Exotic off road race (DAKARRALLY), so even though I had the last four letters, I had no entry there. I filled the bottom four letters of the SW quickly, although I had tuNEOUT instead of ZONEOUT for quite a while. 31D: Reanimation after apparent death (ANABIOSIS) was unknown, as was 30D: South African leader after 2009 (JACOBZUMA), although I really feel I ought to have known it (I'll blame that on the errant T from "tuneout"). So it wasn't until I realized that 36A: Tochises (HEINIES) was actually the beloved Yiddish word I'd always spelled tucheses that I was able to finish it off.

There are some obscure words in here, as noted above, and also KARST, and some crosswordy stuff such as RIS and IFA. But you have to love 53D: Printed slip (TYPO) and 43A: Dead reckonings? (OBITS). Very nice work over all.

- Colum

1 comment:

  1. Untimed.
    I don't like to time Friday or Saturday puzzles as a general rule because they always (almost) take well over an hour, as was the case with this one. I did, however, love it. FIVEK got me, too, although I'd thought of KESHA with just the HA in place and had the F and E written in. I loved 32D Insipidity (VAPIDNESS) and had STumpER instead of STINKER for 24D Tough problem for awhile. 43A Dead reckonings? (OBITS) got me (clever cluing), as did 53D Printed slip (TYPO). And what about JAVASCRIPT (30A Language originally known as Mocha); I wasn't thinking of computers whatsoever. HEINIES was great, as was STURM (18A Agitation overseas).