Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016, Martin Ashwood-Smith


This is an outstanding themeless. I applaud Mr. Ashwood-Smith's move away from quad stacks (even if it has been forced on him). Perhaps it is slightly unfortunate that of all four of the 15-letter answers end in S, although only one is a true plural (two are plurals created through adding -ES or changing a -Y to -IES). I really love EZPASSTOLLLANES, if only for the triple L in the middle. I took CLAD out for a while because of that peculiarity.

But far better than the top and bottom sections are the staggered 12- and 13-letter answers in the middle. 31A: Quaint means of manipulation (FEMININEWILES) is saved by the qualifier from political correct policing. 34A: Fine source of humor, with "the"? (THREESTOOGES) is almost perfect. I love the reference to Larry Fine, but having to put "the" in the clue takes some points away.

Other nice entries include LACERATE and PAULKLEE (nice to have the full name there). Phylicia RASHAD is a little dated at this point, I suppose, and Cosby Show references have a slightly bitter tinge now given the revelations of recent news. Still, I'll give it a B.

I've never heard of TERNE. My first thought was pewter, but apparently that's tin and copper. Solder is also tin and lead, with antimony, apparently.

My favorite clue-answer pair is 31D: Debussy contemporary. I put Ravel in first, then switched it to Satie. Both wrong. FAURE! Excellent indeed. I also liked MICK (41D: Head Stone).

There are some compromises in the fill, but I didn't mind them much.

- Colum


  1. 33:25
    I enjoyed this one. I had never heard of TERNE either, and also took out CLAD because of that triple L, which is, indeed, excellent. I think tenor and/or alto saxes are more common in Jazz combos, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. I actually love the bottom 15s - AMERICANLARCHES and MADECONCESSIONS. ("Number one, the larch..."

    I had a little tougher time with this than you did, but I like a challenge on the weekend.

  2. Oh, I also meant to say that I didn't even notice the hidden capital on Fine until reading your review. Hilarious!