Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015, Martin Ashwood-Smith


We haven't seen Mr. Ashwood-Smith in quite some time, it seems to me, and it's nice to have him back! Today's puzzle features one of his signature quadstacks. (I should say that when I spoke to him about quadstack puzzles at the ACPT earlier this year, he informed me that the majority of puzzles with his byline were not quads.) In any event, this quad, with two bonus fifteens on the top and bottom, is one of the smoothest ones I can remember. Aside from outliers like LEPUS (4D: Hare constellation) and APIS (35D: Egyptian bull god), the rest of the grid is pretty normal. Well, except for this RAFE character. Isn't that just the way the Brits pronounce "Ralph?" Do we need to dumb it down? (No offense, Rafe.)

So what do we get for those concessions? A computer-heavy set of 15s: COMPUTERMONITOR (16A: One showing resolution), OPERATINGSYSTEM (53A: Hardware manager), and APPLIEDRESEARCH (30A: Focus of industrial science). That last one at least makes me think of computers, even though it isn't technically a part of a computer. And a threesome of "historic trivia:" CELESTIALEMPIRE (36A: Old nickname for China) (sounds so lovely), ICANSEEFORMILES (37A: The Who's only U.S. top 10 hit) (almost impossible to believe), and DAYTONTENNESSEE (38A: Scopes trial city) (Who knew there were two Daytons?!)

I like RATSNESTS (57A: Hoarders' disorders) and it's rhyming clue, and 6A: Putting out a lot (PROLIFIC) is also great on both sides of the coin. LONGSTEMMED (9D: Like some roses and wine glasses) is a nice clue/answer, partly because it is, and partly because it was "Monday easy" and allowed a pretty big entry into the Northeast/central areas. Nice, odd clue for ALIEN (14A: Superman, for one), and I also enjoyed 33D: Quitting time? for LENT.

1A: Big drop of water (FALLS). Very nice. A-
Favorite clue/answer - 46D: Rap response (ENTER). Lovely.

- Horace


  1. 8:27

    What a beautiful and smooth puzzle. Mr. Ashwood-Smith, I know I've graded your efforts lowly in the past because of the sacrifices I thought were necessary in order to have a quad stack. Today you've proven how wrong I was. Not only are all six 15-letter answers above average, not one relies on an unnecessary plural, nor does any utilize the dreaded "one's".

    Not only that, but those two trios of long down answers are very impressive (although THREETENS is a little arbitrary). MISSOURIANS is excellent, right across DAYTONTENNESSEE. I also love the NE and SW 8- and 9-letter answers.

    My favorite clue-answer pair: 44A: Sharp as a bowling ball (DIM). Beautiful!

  2. 16:02
    I'd have been in the 15s were it not for taking around twenty seconds to check the grid prior to entering the "L" of the CELESTIALEMPIRE/PLAYON cross. I knew LEPUS (best viewed in the dead of winter), but never heard of APIS. People that aren't currently watching "Supergirl" probably wouldn't immediately think of the ALIEN thing in association with Superman, but that's a central theme in the new show. I never read those comic books (Supergirl, that is), so I don't know whether this whole D.E.O. (Department of Extranormal Operations) thing is made up just for the show. In addition to the comments above, I liked the clues for REESE and ONELINER. The NE was pretty straightforward: the aforementioned LONGSTEMMED, IRISH, ROM and DEODORANT. Even the humorous 11D Broad and then some (FAT) wasn't that difficult. No real junk in this puzzle; a high quality Friday offering.

  3. I always try and make a comment or two when you and your well/informed commentators give their opinions. I must say I'm very flattered... and Amory you have not been totally wrong, I've just got better at this type of puzzle. It's mainly a combination of practice and feedback both good and not so good. So test assured, I do read you (and others) and try and incorporate these blogs/comments in furure (hopefully impoved) puzzles! And I'm not just trying to butter you guys up, but the great (row retired) Manny Nosowsky told me years ago that crossword constructors are primarily entertainers. That said: good entertainers do their best to listen to their audiences!

    (I am now going to see if I can quote you ... hopefully with your permission, some of your blog and provide links to it on my Facebook page so hopefully you can up the number of hits you receive)

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith

    1. Mr. Ashwood-Smith, I just found this comment lodged in our "Spam" comments folder, which I check maybe once per year. I'm delighted to see it, of course, and apologize for the delay if you've been waiting for permission from us to quote us and link to us. By all means, do so! We give you full permission!

      Thanks again for checking in, and for commenting!