Friday, January 2, 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015, David Steinberg


What a year 2015 is turning out to be! Two puzzles, two fine grids. Just 363 more, Mr. Shortz, and you'll have a perfect year!

A pleasant surprise for me today when I opened the H&F crossword blog to find I was featured right up at the top. If we really keep this month by month switch-off through the year, I suppose I'll deserve to be listed up there, but I don't know that I've earned my byline just yet.

But to the real stuff here. Interesting how yesterday's grid and today's grid mirror each other, although Mr. Steinberg, whose puzzles I've learned to anticipate with glee, has chosen a much chunkier middle section, with 5 11-letter answers offset on top of each other. Not satisfied with that, he's put two other pairs of 11-letter answers atop or below 2 15-letter answers at the top and bottom of the grid. You may have read my literary moans and groans when having to slog through a puzzle of quad stacks. How much more elegant and well managed this grid is.

My favorite long answers are 14A: They may be marked with X's (ADULTMOVIES) - a bit of Huygens material there; 49A: Hocus-pocus (LEGERDEMAIN); 33A: Brand maker? (REDHOTPOKER (ew)); and 34A: Classic computer game played on a grid (MINESWEEPER), a game I played an awful lot of when I was supposed to be doing work in the Serial Records dept. at Widener Library. As an aside, what's with the apostrophe after the X in that first clue? Is it really necessary? I don't like it.

DEMOCRATICPARTY took way way too long for me to figure out (I wanted something with "depression" after seeing the first D). I don't like 33D: It might change color (RIPENER) or 43D: New ____ (AGER). I'm not sure why 35D: Fist-pounding boss, say is a TYRANT; seems like there are plenty of other possibilities there.

Benefits of having kids around: I knew 54A: Newbery Medal-winning author Eleanor (ESTES) without any crosses. On the other hand, why was POTATOES (11D: Fries things?) one of the last answers I put in? The brain works in mighty peculiar ways. Glad I'm a neurologist.

- Colum


  1. 27:36

    I thought PETE (47D: Best of classic rock) was a bit of a stretch. For one thing, the Beatles aren't really "Classic Rock," and for another thing, he was out of the band before they became whatever they were. Still, it was easy enough to guess. And speaking of easy, I was about to say that they offered up JONI (6D: Mitchell with the platinum album "Blue") on a silver platter, but Frannie claims she wouldn't have known it, so maybe it was just too squarely in my own wheelhouse for me to be impartial.

    As you say, though, it was a nice, chunky grid. I was onto him as soon as I read 17A: What to call a cardinal, but it took a few crosses before I remembered HISEMINENCE. Nice. SLAKE is a nice word, and I enjoyed the clue for CDS. REWEDS, HALER, LECH, AGER… meh. Overall, though, I guess it's a thumbs up.

  2. And as for the new badge, I thought you definitely deserved something! And yes, more changes may yet occur. :)

  3. 27:42
    The Beatles "invented" distortion (in the intro of "I Feel Fine"). How much more classic rock can you get? OK, Pete Best was long gone by then, but how many Bests are there in the history of rock? Yes, JONI seemed a gimme. How many Mitchells are there in classic rock? (She was at Woodstock, so she gets in there, too.) And yes, what's up with the apostrophe in "X's"? First the Times dispenses with the Harvard/Oxford comma, now this?? I'm aghast!

  4. Untimed (~30 minutes)
    I solved this at the Hyundai dealer while my oil was being changed. I enjoyed 11A Green yardstick (PAR) and ADULTMOVIES (no apostrophe required or desired with Xs). I loved LEGERDEMAIN. My favorite usage of that word was in Doctor Who and the Talons of Weng Chiang, Part 1, Scene 1. Also a nice Nietzsche reference with ART. How about 24D Hearts (PITHS)? Sure, cheap use of a plural, but good clue. And what are the Beatles if not Classic Rock? PETE and JONI went right in.

  5. I stand by my feeling that the Beatles both predate and transcend "classic rock." "Classic Rock" is Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Doors, ... heck, even Van Halen would probably now come under that heading, but the Beatles are more than just that. And less than it. Anyway, that's my feeling. It's not yours, I see, and it's not David Steinberg's, and maybe it's not even Will Shortz's. I think you're all wrong.