The Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo for June 16 is titled "Shall I Compare Thee?" and I spent a little time pre-solve trying to figure out just what that might portend for the puzzle but frankly (heh-heh) I couldn't make head nor tails of it so I just launched into the puzzle to see what the constructor had in store for us. I did notice that there were "?-style" clues involved so I expected some kind of zaniness would ensue.
I started solving as I always do, in the top left corner of the grid and solving the clues in order and by the time I arrived at the first theme clue I already had enough letters in place to fill in the answer. I could see that there was an anagram involved but I didn't know that the clue, "Danes wearing more frills?" referred to a specific person (I thought it might be the people of Denmark - that's not unreasonable, is it?) so I still didn't see what was going on. When I landed on the second theme clue I realized that the answer was in fact a name combined with its anagram to produce a comparative word to fit the clue. So in the end we have:
23a - LACIERCLAIRE (Danes wearing more frills?)
33a - COYERCOREY (Feldman acting more bashfully?)
51a - ACHIERARCHIE (Griffin suffering more pain?)
66a - TENSERERNEST (Hemingway feeling more uptight?)
73a - RACIERCARRIE (Fisher using more off-color language?)
86a - CAGIERGRACIE (Allen being more sly?)
103a-PALERPEARL (Buck looking more sickly?)
121a-CALMERMARCEL (Duchamp showing more serenity?)
It didn't help at all that the first three names were total unknowns to me but with some crosses in place and some good inferences on the comparative words I was able to piece it together. It also didn't help that there were several other obscure (to me, anyway) proper names scattered liberally around the grid. That's a complaint that I've already expressed too many times so I'll just move on.
I thought I'd add an extra level of challenge for myself by trying to complete the grid with no write-overs at all. My usual solving tactic is to just write in whatever comes to mind when I read a clue (assuming it fits, of course) and then make changes as the crosses make them apparent. Today I tried to wait until I could confirm a word with one or two crosses before I wrote it in the grid, and I almost succeeded. I had an early misstep when I put in ImeAnT instead of INFACT for "Actually..." at 15d. It was my first though and the common letters seemed to be enough to confirm it, but no. My only other write-over occurred at 103d, where I lost my resolve and tried scamS for "Ruses". That hid PALERPEARL for too long as the down answers weren't coming easily and I was getting a little panicky. Eventually LLAMA (112a - Andean pack animals) and ODDITIES (118a - Weird things) let me see PLOYS and life was good. Any Sunday puzzle I finish with no errors and only two write-overs is TOPGRADE (14d - First-rate) in my book.
Miscellaneous thoughts elicited by the puzzle:
- FALSER (7d - Less true) is a word? I would have said "false" is an absolute with no comparative, and I would have been wrong - a quick google reveals many, many applications where it is perfectly applicable and it even has it's own definition in the urban dictionary, so OK.
- "Judge not, LEST ye be judged" (50d) is still pretty good advice, right up there along with "Live and let live" - if everybody spent more time minding their own business instead of telling others how they should live the world would be a better place (imho).
- I know that DAHLIAS (70a - Flowers from Mexico) are the national Flower of Mexico due to three recent appearances, similarly clued, in crossword puzzles.
- It took me way too long to figure out why AUTO fits the clue "Prefix with mobile" (60a) - "automobile" was so obvious that it eluded me (that happens a lot).
- I still don't understand LARGECAP as the answer to "Big company, investment-wise" (91a). Alright, Investopedia offers this:
Definition of 'Large Cap - Big Cap'A term used by the investment community to refer to companies with a market capitalization value of more than $10 billion. Large cap is an abbreviation of the term "large market capitalization". Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying the number of a company's shares outstanding by its stock price per share. Now I know, but I don't think it's a term I'll be using any time soon.
- ESSEN (31a - Steel city in the Ruhr) reminds me that I'll be in Germany next week (the Munich area, about 650 kilometers southeast of ESSEN) so I'll be late doing the puzzle next week but I'll come here to tell you all about it when I've finished. Until then I'll leave you with this: