Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday, December 3, 2016, Jason Flinn

11:12 (FWOE (typo))

How strange to open up a dual quad stack puzzle and not see Martin Ashwood-Smith's name at the top! We're so used to seeing his fine creations, but here is Mr. Flinn showing off his abilities instead. And I'm really pretty impressed with this puzzle.

So, the usual caveats apply. Obviously, the point of the quad stacks are the interest of the 15-letter answers. The tradeoff is typically the short crossing answers, which often end up tortured in order to accommodate the stack. Let's take a look and see how Mr. Flinn has done here.

First, the stacks. There are eight answers, and I would say he's hit on five out of eight, which is pretty great. The top stack is the stronger of the two. MASTERCRAFTSMAN is fine (I guess I have to grade it, so I'll say it gets a B). Better yet is 16A: "Them!" or "The Fly" (CREATUREFEATURE). That reminds me of days of yore and watching Channel 38 in Boston, which used to have a Sunday Creature Double Feature. I also like VESTEDINTERESTS, while INTERNETADDRESS is pretty blah (although the clue has a nice ambiguity around the word "server").

The lower stack has 48A: Juneteenth (EMANCIPATIONDAY), which is excellent. I didn't know it recognized the official ending of slavery in Texas, of all places. RAISEDONESVOICE is fine, but has that annoying "one's" in the middle of it, so I dock points there. 52A: Crashed and burned (ENDEDINDISASTER) is great, while SYSTEMSANALYSTS is essentially a place holder of an answer: look at all of those happy ending letters (5 S's!).

I'm more impressed by all the crossing answers, however. Each stack has seven answers at 6 letters or longer, and the only one of those I have any complaint about is ANISSA, although I imagine some of the readers of this blog would recognize her name better than I. Sadly she died at age 18 from a drug overdose before she got better known. Good stuff here includes NOTASMANY, SLEEPAIDS, and 14D: Oil production site (ARTSTUDIO) - hah!

Wait, also 5D: What you've been waiting for, you might think (ETERNITY)! I love it.

Even the shorter answers aren't bad. I don't love AFTA (classic brand name crosswordese) or ERES (random conjugation of an irregular Spanish verb). I would have preferred PONS to be clued by the part of the brainstem, but you can't win them all.

Honestly, the parts I didn't like in the puzzle came in the middle (ORM? crossing ORY?!). But I enjoyed solving it quite a bit.

- Colum


  1. 16:53 (FWOE)

    Boy, I started this one by immediately putting in 1A, and the entire top quad and most of the middle was done in about three minutes. The bottom quad went slightly slower, but I still would have been within about a minute of you if it weren't for a mis-guess on SESTO (3D: Sixth: It.). I put in SESTa, and then forgot about it, getting really mired in the OMAR (26D: ____ Little, stickup man on "The Wire")/38A: ____ Sremmurd, hip-hop duo with the 2016 #1 hit "Black Beatles") cross. LEDE, too, I was unsure of, so even after guessing right on all that, I didn't get the "finished" message, so I set about trying other things down there, until I finally looked elsewhere and saw that I had ETA ("European Theater of 'Action?') twice, and finally realized my error. Sheesh!

    Anyway, yes, you hit the nail on the head on this one. I, too, enjoyed solving it.

  2. 16:45 (FWOE)
    We finished in about 13 minutes (is that the time I should be posting or this one?), then spent almost four looking for our silly mistake: the dreaded hononym: TACiT.

    Colum, I do believe you are confusing your VHS channels. TV 38 was the Bruins.

    1. Right! Channel 56. 38 was the Bruins and Red Sox.

    2. Channel 56 with the very crossword-friendly call letters (or were they call numbers??) WLVI!

    3. And yes, all educated people know that "Creature Double Feature" was on 56...c'mon!

  3. 48:06
    The bottom stack had me stumped for quite a little while, but it all filled in eventually. I remain a fan of the quad stacks, especially when they contain a TARDIS in there (unfortunate that it's next to a smelly FEEDLOT).