Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014, Martin Ashwood-Smith and George Barany


Boy, it's been a while since we've seen Mr. Ashwood-Smith, and just before Frannie opened this one up, I wondered aloud if we would see him today, after seeing another of our favorites yesterday. True story.

Today's central quadstack pushed this one into an oblong 16x15 grid, and the connections between the segments were tight, so that the flow felt slightly restricted. Or, rather, it felt like three, or maybe even six separate puzzles.

The center fell relatively quickly (after the NE), and I broke into it with the amusing BREAKERONENINER (38A: Words from a good buddy). I always said "Breaker one nine," but I certainly heard "one niner" plenty. I loved NATIONALAVERAGE (37A: Country standard), and can I imagine Mr. Ashwood-Smith himself using ICALLEMASISEEEM (32A: Straight talker's slangy phrase) to answer anyone who GROANSAT the use of "one" in the final 15.

Lots of double Es that look weird. IBEFOREE (1A: Start of a weird infraction) (lovely clue), EENIE (8D: Start of an elimination), BEEBE (2D: Deep-sea explorer William), and SEETO (48D: Mind). Well, ok, that last one doesn't look too, too strange, but if you think of it as one word it does. And as for BEEBE, the cross with ABBA was the last thing in today, and it took one guess at another letter before I went back to my original choice of a B. I talked myself out of it by thinking that they would have just gone with an "ABBA the band," clue if it were really ABBA. Oh well. You win some, you lose some, right Martin?

Lots of good, interesting, and clever things in here. Took us forever to get REBS (23A: Gray figures?), and Frannie put "PhD" in right away for 29A: Only one U.S. prez has had one (MBA), thinking of Wilson, not #43, which slowed us down slightly. On the other hand, she also put in SEALSKIN (16A: Eskimo wear), ARABIC (56A: Whence the word "alcohol"), and ESPRESSO (62A: Tiramisu ingredient) without hesitation, which helped a lot in those areas. The SW was particularly tough, and ARABIC eventually led me to guess EIRE (53D: Country name pronounced by natives in two syllables), which led to TOPTENLIST (49A: High ranking?), and then things finally fell. TAWS (49D: Shooters), was puzzling, but now that I've looked it up, it is familiar. I'm pretty sure Frannie's dad has told us about playing marbles in the past, and he probably used that word.

SENESCENCE (28D: Old age) is a good word, I liked MEANINGLESS (29D: Inane), and the inclusion of the recently deceased JOANRIVERS was a nice nod.

Anywho, we love a good Saturday challenge, and this fit the bill nicely.

- Horace


  1. 36:32. I broke in with ERICK, which gave me ECIGARETTE off of the C. I was so proud of that, I filled nothing else in for a long time. The best part of this puzzle was the quad stack, which is a remarkable thing for yours truly to admit. Four really good 15-letter answers, especially ICALLEMASISEEEM (three Es in a row!). In addition, there are four really excellent 10- and 11-letter answers crossing them. I particularly like ELABORATEON.

    So it's too bad that the bottom third is as unhappy as it turns out to be. The SW particularly was filled with answers I didn't like. ARABIC and EIRE were good, but TAWS, OREN, PACA, TBAR, and WECARE (not much of a clue there) not so much. The SE is redeemed by the GROANSAT and ESPRESSO, but EARPIECE ("Listen here!") doesn't seem quite right. I've never called any portion of something I listen to an "earpiece".

    The N section is better. I knew ABBA from Phoebe's pre-school friends who called their father that. IBEFOREE is outstanding, especially the clue.

    Overall, I'd give it a thumbs up.

  2. Thanks (as usual) for your well thought out, and entertaining review... not just of my puzzle, but also the others you review 24/7 😛. I don't know how you do
    It. I'd go nuts after a couple of weeks!

    Also, Mr Amory (no relation to Cleveland, eh😉). I always enjoy reading about your solving experiences, both good and bad.

    Ps: sorry about the smilie emoticons, they came with my IOS8 upgrade, and they're still a novelty (I know, small things amuse small minds, etc.)

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith

    1. Hi Martin - Thanks for your reply. Yes, in fact I am distantly related to Cleveland Amory, something like a third cousin.

  3. Yes, I second Colum in thanking you for your comment, Martin, and for checking in from time to time to read our little blog. Honestly, I'm not sure how we've managed to do it for so long either! But really, it's still fun more often than it's not, and it's especially fun when we get comments, from the regulars and from constructors!