Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015, Jules P. Markey


Hello Mr. Markey!* A very nice theme, and tribute, to the "Road Movies" of HOPEANDCROSBY (24A: The film's headliners). Eighty theme squares is a lot, and they are everywhere, making this one almost all about the theme. So much theme puts the grid in a bit of a stranglehold, and leaves us with crosswordese like ANIS, ANIL, OPES, and EDDA. We also get the unfortunate ALINED (42D: In a row: var.), and the unfamiliar (to me, anyway) YODER (29D: Wisconsin v. ____ (Landmark 1972 case on religious freedom)). My last square was the O in that name, where it crosses AON (32A: Get an ____ (ace)), which took me a long while to understand.

Still, even with all the theme constrictions, there are several non-theme downs that I enjoyed. TUNDRA (5D: Much Arctic land) (for now!), BAYOU (28D: Louisiana inlet), and ACTUAL (23D: Real). MITTEN (35D: Hand warmer) and COPCAR (38D: Black-and-white) did not come to me quickly, and call me crazy, but I almost liked MMCCC (39D: The year 2300) for its craziness. If it had had a slightly more amusing clue I would have actually liked it. :)

Don't tell Frannie, but I can't say I've ever seen more than a clip or two of any Hope & Crosby movie. Still, though, they are classics, and I am impressed by this "double-theme." Sometimes, if the theme is enough - especially in an early-week grid - you can give the fill a lot of leeway. I think that's the case here.

- Horace

* I met Mr. Markey briefly at breakfast at the NCPT this year. I spoke with him, as I did with some other constructors, about the problem of getting to know them at all, because I feared that it would be difficult to be completely objective about their puzzles after meeting them in person. They all told me that they don't mind constructive criticism, but they did not particularly like diatribes that felt more like personal attacks. We have tried to be level-headed over here at Frannie & Horace & Colum, and I hope that comes across.

p.s. Our friend Huygens will certainly love this puzzle, as he and his wife will be on the road to Bali in less than a year! Qatar yesterday, Bali today... what's left for tomorrow? Perhaps you should be on the lookout for your next exotic destination!


  1. 6:25
    Never personal, certainly. I might have been a bit harsh about certain styles of puzzle grids in the past, but it's not about the creator, per se, if that can be separated.

    This puzzle is certainly impressive with all the constraints on it. The word ladder is fun, and the rest of the theme material is fine, although it feels a bit random. BROMANTICCOMEDY is pretty funny stuff, so I'll give it a thumbs up.

    The fill suffers as expected, but it's not terrible. I agree ALINED is probably the worst, and it's pretty much forced into place given the A__N_D from the theme answers. Actually, the middle from SW to NE is pretty excellent, starting with RANGED and going up to COMEON (TAMERS being a necessary evil again because of the theme answers).

    I liked it.

  2. 11:04
    I don't know that I'd consider Qatar to be an exotic destination, although it's on the Persian Gulf and is probably a nice place. We'll be there for under three hours total, if I recall correctly. We'll visit Bali for slightly longer, nearly three weeks. I, too, enjoyed the theme and the grid, despite the fill suffering a bit due to the theme. Impressive that the constructor was able to pull off that ROAD to BALI while including all of those longer answers...very nicely done.