Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016, Ian Livengood


Mr. Livengood has just entered the pantheon. This is the kind of puzzle that makes doing crosswords such a fun pastime. This is a masterpiece.

My first pass through all the Across and Down clues yielded just four entries. Amusingly, the first (and only) one that I put in confidently, APP (46A: Paid purchase, perhaps), withstood the transition to the "alternate" clue, "iPad purchase, perhaps." The other three did not.

After that I got nowhere, so I handed it to Frannie, who entered another keeper, NON (61D: Veto [vote] in the French legislature), but not much else. After fretting for a while about our inability to understand anything, I finally started looking for a trick not in the grid, but in the clues. Could the clue and answer be offset by one space? I wondered what "Trap" [part] could mean in the revealer clues... and then suddenly it hit me - anagrams! As the revealer entries (eventually) tell us, ANAGRAMTHE/FIRSTWORD/INEACHCLUE.

But it's not just anagrams, it's taken to the next level by the elegance of, say, finding another proper name in an anagram for Cruise with "33D: Curie's partner, once" (KIDMAN), or another company name in 22A: Visa [Avis] offering (RENTAL). And on top of that, the underlying themeless puzzle is quite good! It's an open grid with free movement, very little objectionable crosswordese, and a few fun, unusual answers like MOXIE (64A: Never [nerve]), SEXT (56D: Squire [risqué] message), SPARTAN (41D: Freight [fighter] of ancient Greece), OCANADA (3D: Trains [strain] for an N.H.L. game, say), and SEASALT (51A: Clan [NaCl] from the ocean)!

I suppose I could quibble about a slight duplication in the clues of 13D: "Geared!" [Agreed!"] (YESLETS) and 29D: Eager [Agree] (to) (ASSENT), but I don't think I will.

I loved this puzzle. Well done, Mr. Livengood!

- Horace

p.s. 1A: Trio [Tori] who released the 1994 album "Under the Pink" (AMOS) gets an A. I'm in a very good mood.


  1. I absolutely loved this as well, but I was thinking 30 minutes in--when I had entered exactly zero correct answers--that if I were a crossword blogger I would be in EPM about now. That's Extreme Panic Mode, of course. The southwest corner finally fell for me. I saw the anagrams of "resist" and "freight." I think I figured out "Wand representer, in myth" around the same time. Also, I had tentatively put in PENA, which maybe also works for both words, because I happened to know he had been a transportation secretary. (I knew that because he was mayor of Denver, my wife's hometown, during her college years.) This really is fantastic. I suppose the anagrams should have hit me sooner, except that so many of the clues sounded OK. Who else tried "nut" for "'Loco' sort"? Or maybe even "splits" for "Hassles in a bowling alley"? Obviously all of the one-word clues could have been fine. I knew there was something up with some of the clues, but for so long I assumed it was just some of them. Love your highlighted clues. "Clan from the ocean" might be my favorite. The clue for NERF was perhaps a stretch, but I guess it's tough to get an anagram for Hasbro into a clue. Great stuff!

    1. Believe me, I was in EPM for that first half hour. Maybe more. It's hard to understand (and describe) how it is that puzzles like this are finally broken. As you said, some of the clues just sounded so odd, so that gets you thinking that something's up, and I really did consider at least a few different things before something finally snapped. I wish I remember when it hit me (a better blogger might actually take notes during the solve), but it may well have been in that same SW corner. I had APP down there, and I think I guessed that 39D: Nestler" might end in "er" which led me to guess rENo, and maybe that was enough to let me see SPARTAN, and the connection with Ancient Greece maybe made it work. It certainly wasn't because I figured out that "Steered" was "Deseret," although now I love that that bit of crosswordese was put into the clues. Anyway, yeah... great fun.

  2. 27:23 (FWOE)
    I did not parse OCANADA, and frankly my eyes were crossed from all the anagrams, so I took a guess at my last square, in LARK, with LuRK. The first answer I got without guessing was 2D: Manila alternative, in a guessing game (MINERAL). I already knew something seriously wrong was going on, but I was fooled by the "Trap #1-3" clues into thinking it might be three different things (anagrams, maybe antonyms, I don't know). This is frankly brilliant work (I love 45D: Harm in Democratic politics - is that a hidden capital?!), but it did make for a bit of a "Logs".