Annihilate, arcade-style / FRI-25-JUL / Tudor who lost her head / Like God

Friday, July 25, 2014

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: not too tough for a Friday

THEME: none, freestyle grid

Word of the Day: TOLEDO, OHIO (29A: The Glass Capital of the World)
Toledo (/təˈld/) is the fourth most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Lucas County.[5] Toledo is in northwest Ohio, on the western end of Lake Erie, and borders the State of Michigan. The city was founded in 1833 on the west bank of the Maumee River, originally incorporated as part of Monroe County, Michigan Territory, then re-founded in 1837, after conclusion of the Toledo War, when it was incorporated in Ohio.
Toledo grew quickly as a result of the Miami and Erie Canal and its position on the railway line between New York and Chicago. It has since become a city well known for its industry, particularly in glass and auto assembly, as well as for its art community, education, healthcare, and local sports teams. The population of Toledo as of the 2010 Census was 287,208, while the Toledo metropolitan area had a population of 651,429.

                                                                        -- Wikipedia

Blazed through this one with a Feyeresque, Hinmanite, Delfinian time of 8:56. Couldn't find a toehold in the NE and was starting to panic with almost nothing filled in after a minute, but then this freestyle's many long entries began to fall like dominoes in those videos you see of all those dominoes falling: first (24D: Elated) had to be ON CLOUD NINE, and then with just the ???????K?? I got ARTICHOKES from (57A: Heads with hearts), and very soon after ON A LEASH from (30D: restrained); and then right after the aforementioned TOLEDO, OHIO.

My solve was looking like a skeletal grid, those simple ones you see on the placemat at Bob's Big Boy or wherever: I had all the long entries, each connected by one letter to another long entry, without any of the surrounding short fill. It was like cheating, like how long can this continue?, like the first 30 minutes of that Germany-Brazil game. Euphoric. Rode that vibe through the whole thing. Good feeling and so many nice long entries that we've barely scratched them even with that intro.

DOWN GOES FRAZIER! How-ard Co-sell's famous call from the Foreman-Frazier fight in Jamaica. Yes, I looked that up. I thought it was Ali-Frazier in Vegas. And I didn't realize it was Cosell.

A little short on time so the quick version is: nice long entries; a little scruffy on the short fill in places but not too scruffy; tough, tricky clues: let's call it a B+, indeed giving us the letters to ABACAB. An outstanding week of puzzles thus far, which Rex will finish off tomorrow.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: the 7th edition of the Lollapuzzoola crossword tournament will be held in Manhattan on Saturday, August 9th. I have to miss it this year but I've been the past two years and it's highly recommended. Relaxed, laugh-a-minute atmosphere and you get to meet all the fun (and very friendly) crossword people, not least of all tournament chieftains Brian Cimmet and Patrick Blindauer. Check it here. I'm jealous that you can make it but I can't.

Thanks to Rex for having me, and to his readers and commenters for keeping it interesting.

Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent of CrossWorld until midnight tonight.


Helmet part / THU-24-JUL / Outwit, in a way / Big bang maker

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Constructor: David Phillips

Relative difficulty: toughish for a Thursday, until you get the trick

THEME: "Paint It, Black" — put the word IT into four different pairs of black squares

Word of the Day: PETER TOSH (32D: One of the Wailers of Bob Marley and the Wailers)

Peter Tosh, OM (born Winston Hubert McIntosh; 19 October[1] 1944 – 11 September 1987) was a Jamaican reggae musician. Along with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer he was one of the core members of the band The Wailers (1963–1974). After which he established himself as a successful solo artist and a promoter of Rastafari. He was murdered in 1987 during a home invasion. --Wikipedia
• • •

Should I know the name David Phillips? I don't, but this is a very polished piece of work, especially impressive if he's a new constructor.

Theme answers:
  • (4D: Hit 2012 Disney film) WRECK IT RALPH 
  • (20A: "Looky here!") CHECK IT OUT
  • (59A: Not worry about something annoying) LET IT SLIDE
  • (22D: 1966 Rolling Stones hit ... or an instruction to be followed four times in this puzzle) PAINT IT BLACK
Crossing your IT's yields eight long entries the other way:  ENCIRCLED, COATTAIL, CUTS INTO, SELECTEES, DULCINEA, PETER TOSH, STAIRCASE and ANATOLIA. Essentially what we have is this (excellent) grid with eight black squares added:

Two elegant touches: 1) the letters IT are used as the word "it" uniformly in all four entries and 2) the ITs are symmetrically placed in the grid. A third elegant touch is that no stray ITs appear anywhere in the grid, which would've been slightly unsightly. Not sure if this was by luck or design but if the author is reading this I'd be interested to know in comments. 

Two dings on the theme clues:

1) The clue for LET IT SLIDE sounds off. "Not worry about something annoying" is more like "let it go," while "let it slide" means "decide not to punish a minor infraction." This is a minor infraction, though, so I'll let it go.

2) This one rankles a bit, though: I think the revealer clue at 22D should have read "1966 Rolling Stones hit ... or what the constructor did four times in this puzzle."  I can't find a way to interpret the clue where the solver is painting IT black. I put IT in white letters in the solution grid, for example, but I didn't paint anything black. If I'm missing a reading of this then let me know in comments, but it doesn't seem as on-target as a visual aspect-revealer should be.

But still, a good use of the letters-in-black-squares idea. And check out that grid: at 72 words, it's wide-open (and clean) enough to be an above-average themeless. Don't miss those internal 4x4 blocks in green in the solution grid above; it's one thing to do a 4x4 box in a corner or edge, but quite another to do it in the center like this with long words beaming out of it in all directions. Bravo.

Lovely week of puzzles thus far, isn't it? A-, C+, A, B, and I'm giving today's puzzle a grade of A-. Hoping for a B on Friday so we have all the letters of "Abacab."
Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent for one more day of CrossWorld


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