Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wednesday, August 10, 2016, David C. Duncan Dekker


Wait, what?

This is a crazy, crazy (and three more crazies to get a total of 5 Zs) feat to pull off. The grid is a QUINTUPLE pangram. I didn't know you could do that. There's a little mini-theme going on as well with the addition of FIVEFOLD at 52A.

So... is it worth it? Well, the grid suffers, because each corner is completely isolated, making them all mini-puzzles. Not surprisingly, it's in these corners where some of the more difficult letters are isolated (J in the northwest, W in the northeast, X in the southeast and southwest). Using a random Roman numeral helps to get two Xs (DXIX), while there are more than your standard peculiarities, such as SQFT and DJED.

Still, I feel like on the whole it stands up. The SW corner is well done, with XEROX, OXEYE, MYOB, and SEXY. The middle diagonal section was fun and reminded me of some of David Phillips's crazy themeless concoctions. All of the long answers are strong, including WESTBANK and DOWNQUARK and ACIDJAZZ.

And best of all, it looks like the craziest Scrabble game ever played (if there were that many high-value tiles available). I'm sure some will dismiss this as a stunt, but if so, you have to admit it's a well-done stunt. I'm in FAVOR.

1A: Frequent flier (BIRD) is cute. So non-specific! I was thinking at least a specific species of bird. I give it a B. Strangely, the first answer I entered with confidence was 20D: Jaromir ____, five-time N.H.L. scoring leader (JAGR), in that I don't follow hockey at all.

- Colum


  1. 13:01 (FWOE)
    I didn't know Mr. JAGR, but the crosses were fine. My error came at the RAKI/JAKE cross, which is terrible. And the sheer number of abbreviations is bad, too, but I forgive those things for the remarkable accomplishment of creating a grid like this. Amazing. I especially enjoyed the Q words, with QUAFF and DOWNQUARK being my favorites, and QUILTING being the most surprising (I wanted "queen" to bee in there somewhere).

  2. I knew RAKI from Patrick Leigh Fermor's wonderful book "Ill Met By Moonlight" about the resistance in Crete during World War II. I subsequently drank Raki on my own visit to Crete in 1992. Pretty strong stuff!

  3. 10:05

    This was crazy. I usually hate a pangram, and a double pangram is abysmal, but somehow this quintgram, with its middle slant of Qs and Us and Ks ... well, it's not all that bad. The RAKI/JAKE cross is rough, and entries like TSWANA, FOHN, and LARP are words that, I hope, would get a puzzle pushed back for re-working if it weren't for the stunt aspect. But as you say, the longer stuff is good, and aside from the stuff already mentioned, the fill isn't that bad. I don't want to see this again, but once was fun enough.

  4. Usually the fill suffers in a pangram, for no particular benefit. So I would have thought this would be five times worse. But it actually has quite a few good answers, including just about all the Q answers, STRAW (has anyone done a theme with straw, brick, and sticks? I suppose so), and BIRD (as clued).

    Still, I naticked in four places and I don't feel bad about it. I mean, sure, I knew there was a crosswordese word for that wind (FOHN, as it turns out), so I could have known that one, and I suppose Honey Boo Boo's name is probably known to people who follow pop culture more than me. But there's enough scraping the bottom of the barrel that I'm not left feeling I could have gotten much more than I did (even to get within four letters was a fair bit of relying on the crosses and "shrug, I guess that must be a person or an idiom" type stuff.

    All in all, though, not as horrible as it should have been given the theme. I'll give it a B. Turning the pangram dial up to five and giving it a revealer definitely helps. At least you get some payback for all the suffering.

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