Friday, March 29, 2019

Friday, March 29, 2019, Martin Ashwood-Smith


It feels like it's been quite some time since I last saw Mr. Ashwood-Smith's byline in the NYT. I am used to seeing double quad stacked 15-letter grids, which used to make me throw my hands in the air and give up.

Nowadays the staggered 13-letter answer stacks are all the rage, and it's easy to see why. Look how excellent that middle section is, with DIXIELANDJAZZ right above its near neighbor MOBILEALABAMA (with a great piece of trivia about its early days as the capital of French Louisiana), and below that DOUBLEDEALERS.

The staggering allows for very strong crossing answers as well, including my favorite answer of the puzzle today at 27D: Bungling (MALADROIT) - a great word, and a misleading clue, in that you might be tempted to try out a word ending in -ING, but get nowhere. I also liked JAREDLETO and BARRYGIBB's full names.

This is a particularly scrabble-y grid, with 3 Xs, 3 Js, and 2 Zs. I was amused by 15A: Laser alternative (DOTMATRIX) - not so much anymore, am I right?

I could complain about XII and DERE, two less than wonderful answers, but I'll leave you with 5D: Schooner filler (ALE).

Now that's a nice image.

- Colum


  1. 13:13
    I flew through this one since it's an excellently clued, clean puzzle. I often think about breaking out the DOTMATRIX printer that hooks up to my Apple IIe (or is it IIc?), but then resist the urge. But actually, when not at work, I tend to not print anything at all any longer. I briefly tried TRAYtopS at 21A, but quickly changed it to the correct TRAYFULS. GOBS of great stuff in here including the staggered stack mentioned by Colum, which can be said to be inter-related since there are many DOUBLEDEALERS near and on Bourbon St., a short-ish ride from MOBILEALABAMA where can be heard much in the way of DIXIELANDJAZZ. Not too much left me ILLATEASE with this puzzle. I tried cobrA at 1A and needed two crosses for WONKY at 57A, but those didn't slow me too much. GLISSANDI is excellent. ATEAT could have been clued more blue, but we'll accept it.

  2. 9:20 (paper)

    I flew through this one, too, and I agree about the many bits of good fill (GLISSANDI!), but I cringed at OATEN, LAE, RIS, and even DIZ. And is it DILLSEEDS that flavor pickles, or dill weed itself? When I make pickles, I use the green part, but I know nothing of industrial pickle production. So those little things served to DRAGDOWN my love a bit, but overall, I think the star entries and the Scrabblyness push it to the good side.