Sunday, February 24, 2013

Clash of Personalities



 Today's Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo is titled "Puzzling Behavior" which leaves me Frankly puzzled (heh-heh) because the theme, which is readily apparent even without the "Fitting exhortation to someone solving this puzzle?" answer at 113a, MINDYOURPSANDQS, doesn't suggest puzzling behavior to me.  It does remind me of my grandmother who used the phrase often when exhorting the young 'uns to behave when company came over. Maybe Frank regards using good manners to be "puzzling behavior" in today's society and thinks we could all use a reminder to "mind our ps and qs". It's possible that I'm reading too much into this, so lets go to the theme answers:
 
23a - Place to stay apart from others: PRIVATEQUARTERS
32a - Schubert's "Trout," e.g.: PIANOQUINTET
41a - Certain job lineup for a computer: PRINTQUEUE
57a - Lifted-out, boldfaced article excerpt: PULLQUOTE
66a - Something often dodged: POINTEDQUESTION
77a - Tiara-winning teen: PROMQUEEN
91a - Schoolroom surprises: POPQUIZZES
97a - Spat: PETTYQUARREL
113a- I already told you about this one - weren't you paying attention?
 
One thing I just noticed as I was locating these theme answers was the nifty symmetry of their placement throughout the grid - from top to bottom they go left, right, left, right, center, left, right, left, right. Now that I think about it, that may be a Longo trademark - I'll have to go back and check to see if all of his grids have the same theme answer pattern.  Regardless, I think it adds a nice touch to the puzzle, and I suspect it increases the difficulty for the constructor considerably but we know Frank Longo is a master of such things.
 
I also just noticed (perhaps I should pay more attention as I solve) that none of the theme answers was clued ?-style so the the punniness I have come to expect from Frank's puzzles is lacking from this one. In fact the theme answers are all quite literal responses to straight-forward clues - so maybe it's this "puzzling behavior" on the part of the constructor that is described by the title. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.
 
Something I did notice as a solved the puzzle was the preponderance of (mostly) famous personalities liberally sprinkled throughout the grid - 22 of them by my count (which doesn't include the old IBM computer (DEEPBLUE) or the Citi Field mascot (MRMET) and some I probably overlooked, so the number could be even higher). But at least they came from a wide variety of occupations and eras, so there was probably something there for everyone in terms of interest. My personal favorite was seeing Patsy CLINE appear right next to ELATE, as if Frank anticipated the joy she would bring to solvers like me. Coincidentally, the "As I Lay Dying" father (ANSE) at 62d appeared in a recent NY Times crossword puzzle, clued in exactly the same way - that would have been a big help to me if my short-term memory wasn't so bad, but I had to let the crosses produce the answer (again).
 
Well, I've STAREDAT (84d, Eyed intently) the grid looking for other things to write about but nothing jumps out at me so I'll end with my favorite clue and answer: "I was wrong...big deal!" - SOSUEME!
 
And I have this budding young artist to that for the title of this post, which I think aptly describes the puzzle:

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