Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday, April 11, 2015, Martin Ashwood-Smith



I thought I was off to a great start getting RAJ (1A: Rule ending in 1947) off the clue, and JETLI (3D: 54Down's co-star in "The Forbidden Kingdom") off the J, but after that, it slowed way down. I plowed my way through the very nice (except, maybe, for EDATE) top middle section, and then ground to a halt. A slip on the phone from my brother gave away IMAGE (50D: Something to upload or uphold), and a little further discussion with Frannie about that corner got me off and running again.

I feel a little weird about SONNETEERS (21D: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Edna St. Vincent Millay, notably), even though Millay is one of my favorite poets. Her sonnet cycle "Fatal Interview" is a particular favorite. I guess it's fine as a word, but you don't hear it a lot. I wish, in fact, that it were more widely used with its second definition, which is "an inferior poet." It seems like such a good put-down. "Oh, that new poet laureate? In my book, he's a sonneteer..."

I was all set to rail against TETRIS (25D: Fitting entertainment at an arcade?) as not having been an arcade game, but it googles up just fine. I would argue that most players did not play it at an arcade, though, but I guess that hardly matters. Also, while we're talking about things from a long time ago, when's the last time we saw POG (43A: 1990s collectible) in the grid? And how'd that work out as a "collectible" anyway? Well, I'll tell you. As I type this, a lot of 75 "Hawaiian pogs" has 8 bids and is going for $11.50. Another "complete set of The Wizard of Oz pogs" (50) has seven bids and is currently at $10.00. Who knew these were still traded? Not me.

Lots of nice misdirection today: 61A: General store? (CANTEEN), 15A: Port alternative (MADEIRA), 5D: One getting the show on the road? (CARANTENNA), 40A: Chicken preference? (BEATINGARETREAT), and a great clue for ETAS (34D: Headwinds often push them back, briefly).

The central quadstack is solid, and there are many lovely tens running into and out of it. Not sure I agree 100% with NABS for 30D: Cops, and OLEAN (31D: Allegheny River city) seems pretty obscure. I guess I can't argue with SERI, since it's part of a world capital. But really, that's three semi-questionable things, and a whole slew of ITALIANICE, ENCOURAGED, HANDBEATEN, and TRESPASSER. Very nice.

Overall, I found this to be a fun challenge. Just the kind of thing I'm looking for on a Saturday.

- Horace

p.s. I was looking for you at the ACPT, Mr. Ashwood-Smith, but I actually ran into a man who said he collaborated with you, and he told me you lived out on the other coast. You're in good absent company, though, as I heard that Patrick Berry never shows up, either. Oh well...


  1. 36:35 (FWOE)
    I'm with you, Horace, about the start. I too got RAJ right off the bat, and ATALL off of that. Didn't help. I was reduced for quite some time to putting in guessed letters, most of which did not pan out. Although the TO at the end of ATTESTEDTO helped me figure out that corner... wrongly, as it turns out, because somehow I ended up with HArDBEATEN, as well as that well known 3-letter author, rIN. Speaking of which, these authors are real God-sends for crossword puzzle creators, aren't they? Nin, Lem... well, that's all I can come up with right now.

    We've seen INB recently.

    3 out of the 4 15s in the quad stack were very good. I particularly liked BEATINGARETREAT. At one point I was guessing "meat" at the end of that one, thinking white or dark? I have no problem with SALESASSISTANTS as a 15-letter answer: I just don't think the clue (Counter intelligence?) leads you to the assistants. Managers, perhaps.

    44A: Move like a fly (ARC) was a propos of the start of the baseball season. Speaking of which, 19 innings? Wow.

    I'd never heard of "Dead-tree" as a way of referring to a book, which I guess is where PRINT comes from. I don't know. Otherwise, I'm fairly impressed with this Saturday.

  2. Horace, yes my friend GB mentioned he met you at the ACPT. If only it was a bit closer then I'd show up more often (sigh!). Glad you enjoyed the puzzle... more to come!


  3. 66:01
    I think that this is the last one on which I forgot to comment. As I recall, the mid-south was the most difficult for me with SHIATSU and ANTHERS crossing CASCA (which I should have known) and the excellent LOATH. At first, I entered SONNETiERS, but that led to nothing on the cross, where I wanted SALt...something, thinking of a kitchen counter; that all took awhile to suss. I liked seeing the full ELIOTNESS and enjoyed FRANTIC (18A Like many 911 calls). I've never heard of POG, but agree that this is just what a Saturday puzzle should be.