Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015, Brandon Hensley


Just before my daughters went off to camp last week (one to acting camp in Maine, one to ballet summer intensive in Princeton), we spent over an hour attempting to solve Sporcle quizzes together. It was a ton of fun, especially because there are time constraints on the puzzle, and my younger daughter's typing while convulsed with laughter was hit or miss, to say the least.

There's a strong theme on Sporcle's entertainment quizzes, in that it seems like over 50% of them are about Harry Potter. Three that really stuck out were: Top 200 Characters in Harry Potter By Number of MentionsHarry Potter Characters by First Line of Dialogue, and Harry Potter Characters by Last Line of Dialogue. Really, really tough quizzes to be sure. Links provided for those who wish to try their hands.

Anyway, long story short, it's pretty clear what the seed entry in today's excellent Friday puzzle is. By the time I got to 34A: School head in a best-selling series of novels (ALBUSDUMBLEDORE), I had a number of crossings already (one incorrect: I thought it might be @Obama, not @POTUS), so in the 15-letter answer went, which broke the whole puzzle open.

The corners are all outstanding, chunky pieces of crossword loveliness. I tried Rockyroad at 15A: Ice cream flavor with chew bits (RUMRAISIN), but that was removed immediately when EARP went in. I had IMPEND, ASA, and SNEAD in there, but had to come back around to the corner later. EXPURGATE and WHITECAPS are also great words.

The NE corner has the nice colloquialism HADITMADE, as well as the well-put reminder of the harsh reality of the early 15th century in 13D: Joan of Arc, at the time of her death (TEENAGER). It also has the wonderful 14D (ANDSCENE) which I've enjoyed using to comedic effect with Horace and Frances in the past. I don't love the pluralized noun CAUTIONS when a verb clue would have worked just as well.
The SE fell really quickly for me. I had a brief issue because I had idoL at 47A: False god (BAAL), but I saw my mistake because ANTES was obvious. I love the Greek source for AGAPE rather than the standard "state of mouth when astonished" type of clue. TAKEAPEEK was a gimme, and EPICVERSE and SEXKITTEN took only a little longer. How about the pair of "puffed clues" at 6D and 57D (CIGS and KIX respectively)? That's fun. I also enjoyed the reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail with CLEESE. 53D: It's divided at the start of war (DECK) was really tricky, referring to the card game. But should the name of the game be capitalized?

The SW had a few answers I was less enamored with, including the weirdly pluralized VERAS, the term EVOKER and the obscure (to me) but gettable RUSSE. Still, there's QUAKERGUN, which I've heard before but had to get most of the crosses before filling in. 36D: BROMANCE is paired nicely with AGAPE. I also enjoyed INCUS, which I was able to get without crosses. The other two bones in the ear are the Malleus and the Stapes.

Excellent Friday.

- Colum


  1. Hey Colum, Thanks for the write-up, and I'm very happy to hear that you enjoyed my puzzle! I think the fact that war is a generic name and not a trademark allows us to write it without a capital (see also hide-and-seek). As a sometimes-reader of this blog, I really appreciate the voice you guys add to the crossword blogosphere. Best, Brandon

    1. Hi Brandon! Thanks for writing in. We always love to hear that the creators are checking us out. Fair enough on "war".

  2. 0:19:36

    Yes, thanks, Brandon, for the comment and the kind words! I, too, enjoyed this grid, and I'm not just saying that now because you wrote in! The stacks are all excellent, and the only really drab crosses are TRAC, POLI, and maybe HALEN… but can you really be mad about a Van Halen reference? I think not. (Same with the IME answer - it's a Beatles reference, so it's hard to hate. But still…)

    Nice that you were able to get in the SEAICE clue before it's all gone. Heh.

    A fun Friday.

    - Horace

  3. 35:20
    SEXKITTEN was, of course, my favorite longer answer. I didn't know ALBUSDUMBLEDORE, but all of the crosses were fair. Nice clue for LIB (37D Lefty) and WRESTS is great. Living on the shore as I do, we witness WHITECAPS for around six months of the year, typically; that's why we have to buy the nice windows (for the wind, not only for the view). ELDORADO right next to HADITMADE is also good, and I quite liked 14D Director's cry with a pause in the middle (ANDSCENE).