Sunday, March 17, 2013

Anagrammy Fun!

Photo: This kind of fits in with the Clam Diggers strip.

Technical difficulties have prevented me from posting a copy of the completed grid here, so I'll give you instead a scene from the comics page to show you why I was so certain that the answer to 14d, Happy as ___, would be "a clam". It turns out I was wrong (it's ALARK) but I still like the cartoon.

(A week later I have solved my problem reproducing the completed grid so here it is for late arrivals:)

All I can say about the theme of today's Premier Crossword, which Frank A. Longo calls Irish Shuffle, is "WOW"! Who knew there were so many ways to make an anagram of Saint Patrick's Day?  Apparently Frank A. Longo did and he managed to get 7 of them (8 including the Irish saint himself as the reveal clue) into a grid that works pretty well and is fun to solve (with a few groans along the way).  The theme answers, arranged in the grid in Frank's trademark left-right symmetry, all rearrange the letters in Saint Patrick's Day to create wacky (some more than others) phrases to fit the clues:

23a - RICKYPAINTSSADAT (Lucy's hubby creates a portrait of an Egyptian Nobelist?)
31a - PATSYTRICKSDIANA (Singer Cline dupes singer Ross?)
43a - STINKYACRIDPASTA (Spaghetti that smells and tastes terrible?)
64a - IKIDNAPSTRAYCATS (Declaration from one who abducts alley prowlers?)
72a - PAINDISTRACTSYAK (Soreness causes shaggy ox to lose focus?)
93a - DIPISATSNACKTRAY (Salsa can be found on the platter of munchies?)
101a-TYRASKIPSANTACID (Model Banks opts not to take Tums?)
118a-SAINTPATRICKSDAY (Observance "shuffled"in this puzzle) (I had forgotten the title of the puzzle until I had worked my way through almost all of the clues and came to this one, so this cleared up a lot of questions I had and let me go back through the grid and fill in answers I had skipped over (and correct some mistakes I made along the way, like the aforementioned clam - there is no "m" in Saint Patrick's Day).

Some of the non-theme fill had me scratching my head over stuff I just flat-out didn't know and I made a couple of bad guesses to further complicate things for a while. Here are the ones for which  I needed all or most of the crosses (and one lucky guess):
7d - Tropical vine > LIANA, a word I've probably seen before but never committed to memory.
13d- French red wine > MEDOC - I'm a bourbon drinker so I never had to learn wine names.
20a- Old gas giant > AMOCOOIL - I have a little problem with the accuracy of this answer as I have certainly heard of Amoco but I think the answer is a made-up construction to fit the grid. Here's what wiki has to say about it: "Amoco Corporation, originally Standard Oil Company (Indiana), was a global chemical and oil company that was founded in 1889 around a refinery located in Whiting, Indiana, United States. It later absorbed the American Oil Company, founded in Baltimore in 1910 and incorporated in 1922 by Louis Blaustein and his son Jacob. Amoco merged with BP in December 1998 forming BP Amoco, later renamed to BP, though the Amoco name continued at most stations until 2002." So Frank may have cheated a little to make an answer that fits, but it was certainly inferrable from the crosses and if that's what it takes to make the puzzle work I think it's forgivable, and I don't want to be a guy who CARPS (106d  (Grouses) about my occasional nits.
40d- Kitchen utensil brand > EKCO - I probably have a dozen items in my utensil drawer that has this name on it, but I still can't remember how to spell the brand name.
45d - Mozart's " ___ Fan Tutte" > COSI - This crossed the next one, so I needed to guess the "O".
52a- Big name in Champagne > MOET - I already explained this.
65d- Vardalos and Long > NIAS - Actresses I presume, but unknown to me. (Ditto IONE (Skye of film at 35d. )
68a - Food-conducting plant tissue > PHLOEM - I entertained the possibility of  "phlegm" for a while because at least it's a word I have heard of; I glad I waited for the crosses to produce the right answer, which still looks wrong to me.
77d- Exhibit ennui > YAWN - I forgot what "ennui" means.
111d- Game with 32 cards > SKAT - I did not know this but at least I have heard of the game.

Wrong guesses that resulted in write-overs (and made for a pretty messy completed grid) included the clam/LARK debacle, NOriSk for NOLOSE (55a - Like a sure-to-succeed proposition), fights for RUNINS (75d - Altercations), abbA for NENA (99a - "99 Luftballons" band), Ned for NAT (88d - Turner of a rebellion) and Nap for NOD (119d - Doze (off)).  The last one kept me from seeing the lovely word MEADOWY (127a - Like grasslands) for too long.  I really should learn to confirm my answers with a crossword or two, just to prevent silly mistakes but hey, what's the fun in that?

Frank gets some interesting words in the grid, too, such as STATUARY (85d - Collection of busts, e.g.) which shares a "y" with MEADOWY.  FIDO (16a - Spot's pal) and his FUR (16d - Dog covering) share a spot in the top right corner, and the grid is populated with a plethora of  "I" words: ICKY/ISRAELI/INAHAZE/IMAGES/IONE/ICEMAN/IOTA/INANE/ILIAC. (I don't know why this tickles me, but it does. 

I could go ONANDON (39d - Ad infinitum) but that would probably overstaying my welcome, so I'll leave you with a song - see if you can spot the lyric that's an anagram of the singer's name:

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