Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016, Martin Ashwood-Smith and George Barany


Just yesterday in the comments section of this blog was a brief discussion of how running into crosswordese in a grid can sometimes bring on warm feelings of nostalgia. For me, seeing Mr. Ashwood-Smith's name on a quadstack puzzle has a similar effect. Awww... a quadstack...

So let's start right in the middle, shall we? I, for one, enjoyed the stack. HURRICANESEASON (39A: Depression era) is both well-clued and accurate! This year's runs from June first to November thirtieth, in case you were wondering. And we didn't get a "one" in any of the answers, but it appears in the clue for AFRICANELEPHANT (40A: One with a smaller Indian relative). And the one that I solved first might be my favorite - 41A: Hurtful pair in a playground rhyme (STICKSANDSTONES).

The crosses, often compromised by the exigencies of the quadstack, include three further fifteens (!), and a few very nice sevens and eights - SEASICK (21D: Green around the gills, maybe), SEINFELD (19D: Who called a date "a job interview that lasts all night") (after a couple minor characters appeared recently, the man himself shows up), and REPTILE (37D: Chameleon, e.g.) (classic misdirection). It's nice that they worked in GREATBARRIERREEF (3D: Only living thing that can be seen from outer space) (cool), as it's probably not long for this world. And interesting about 11D: What "Banzai!" literally means (TENTHOUSANDYEARS). Figuratively, I have learned, as a shortened form of "TennĊheika Banzai!," it means, "Long live the emperor!" or simply "Hurrah!"

So that's the bones of the thing, and it's a pretty strong skeleton, I think. In the SW and NE we get two more long answers in LEEKRASNER (58A: Abstract Expressionist who married Jackson Pollock) and INKSTAND (18A: Blotchy, in a way) (not to be confused with PIED (17A: Blotchy, in a way)).

I wish that 1A: Sharp projections (JAGS) had been clued "Benders," but one can't have everything, can one? Still, I'll give it a B+.

Sure, there are some loose spots - AHASH, ECASH, AAS, ERY... but overall, I consider this a good Friday.

- Horace


  1. Untimed, on the hammock.
    My first of the quadstack was AFRICANELEPHANT, but I enjoyed them all. Great Friday (I, too, love a quadstack). I needed all of the crosses for LEEKRASNER, but everything was fair. Nice clues for EGRET and POSSE, which we see all too often. The long downs are 16s, it seems. Interesting trivia with TAHOE and Banzai...who knew? And 32D Temporary quitting times? (LENTS), even though it's a plural, is excellent.

  2. Always enjoy your reviews and insights. It's nice to read actual reviews, rather than bloggers (on some other sites) conducting what often be a "master class". One where the constructors often get the sense that they are being "graded" on a term paper. It's not that we mind that much if the blogger/critic doesn't like the puzzle (and gives reasons)... that's quite reasonable. But it is the sense that many constructors feel they are getting "lectured at" rather than reviewed that doesn't foster a particularly good atmosphere... and in some cases it gets quite nasty (as I'm sure you know).

    I think you all strike a nice balance here. It is appreciated!

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith (AKA: "MAS")

  3. I enjoyed this Friday. The quad stack seemed way easier than most, and I was cruising along at near C.Amory speed until I got down to the bottom. In the SE I blame my proximity to cOE College for most of my difficulties. And having YEs in for a good long while didn't help either. YEP is really much better, as it more precisely conveys the informality of CB chatter. But finally I did what I don't always do when I hit an impasse: I reassessed the answers that I had already entered and wondered if any could be wrong. On the other side I was slowed greatly by my entry of PARis. NOw with this one--unlike YEP--I take issue with Mr. A-S. "Cole Porter topic" is a relatively formal clue. Also, his great song "I Love Paris" has the formal name in the title, as does the lesser known "Paris Loves Lovers." I don't know of any Cole Porter songs that have the breezier PAREE in the title. PEKOE and MERLE were tough, but they eventually came arond when I finally got NOFEES for "Brokerage come-on." I like the Friday-level cluing of MERLE--hard though it was for one who doesn't often buy or take note of cosmetics-- with something other than the late country legend. Loved the cluing of JAPAN! Talk about misdirection. Horace, you wanted "Benders" for JAGS, I wanted "Wretch descriptor" for INKSTAINED, even though it would have broken up the nice "Blotchy" dyad. Excellent Friday overall. Appreciated learning what Banzai means.

  4. 16:35
    Ooh, I was so excited when I put in GREATBARRIERREEF off of a couple of acrosses. And then, all four in the stack fell into place. I blame MERLE (where I had put MaRiE) for giving me a lot of trouble. Great Eric Satie reference. A lot of fun, and Mr. Ashwood-Smith knows I'm not usually in favor of the quad stacks. Here, there was no letdown with strained fill to make the stack work. Nice job!