The Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo for this week is titled "Feline Finder" and I imagined that we might be looking for cats somehow sCATtered (get it?) around the grid, or some such gimmick as that, but of course I was wrong. Well mostly wrong at least, because there is one CAT in the grid but that's just incidental to the theme which turns out to be one of Frank's favorite CATegories - it's a riddle!
When the grid is complete we find we have a five-part riddle and a two-part answer and the whole thing is of course a horrible pun - not bad enough to be a total CATastrophe but it didn't leave me CATatonic with laughter, either:
24a - WHEN MY SILKY-HAIRED
27a - PET CAT GOT
43a - LOST WHAT IS THE NAME
71a - OF THE ORGANIZATION
97a - I GOT IN CONTACT WITH?
121a-OF MISSING PERSIANS!
Horrible grammar aside, I admire the lengths to which Frank had to go to make the pun work, and the parts of the riddle were each inferrable enough to be filled in without having all the crosswords in place, so that's good. I have to say, though, that PETCATGOT looks pretty strange sitting there in the grid; it looks kind of like a word in search of a definition but a quick google of the term produced over a million hits, all as partial parts of a longer sentence or phrase - some of them are pretty entertaining (and bizarre) by themselves.
I just noticed a feature of the puzzle which is either a really strange coincidence or Frank is far more clever, and devious, than I suspected. The letter "C" appears six times in the grid and each and every time it is adjacent, up, down or diagonally, to the letter "T". Since a C-T (Computed Tomography)Scan is commonly referred to as a "CAT Scan", the whole grid works as a "word-search" puzzle where the "Feline Finder" involves locating and circling the six C-Ts in the grid. Really, try it - it works! I'm probably the only solver to have discovered this ingeniously implanted sub-theme of the puzzle - or maybe I'm imagining things again. I'll let you decide.
Miscellaneous thoughts about other stuff I noticed:
- The puzzle serves as a post-Christmas tribute to the Jolly Old Soul himself, with an ODETO SANTA (73d - "__to Billy Joe" and 109d - Annual toy toter) appearing in the grid.
- I have numerous dogs in my lifetime but I never knew that a SPITZ is a "Pointy-eared, stock dog" (48d). Do you suppose that Mr. Spock's name derives from that that fact?
- It took me far too long to realize that "LI times two" (41a) refers to a Roman numeral that when doubled yields CII. The simplicity of the clue threw me.
- I did not know that a member of the Proletariat is a PROLE (22a - Society peon)
- My sons and I used to love to go to DRIVE-INS (15d - Movie house alternatives) in our van - great fun!
- I have a Motorola RAZR M - it's not a FLIP PHONE (1d) but apparently earlier models were.
- The first time I had my pants custom-tailored the seamstress measuring my INSEAMS (54a - Pants length measures) asked me which side I "dressed" on - I had no idea what she meant.
- I don't care what the DICT (40d - Webster's, e.g.; Abbr.) says, GORER (16d - One impaling) is not a word. It is, however, the perfectly good surname of many notable individuals. Of course if Frank had clued it as such, I would have complained about that, too.
- I may start wearing a PANAMA HAT (87d) just because I love the fact that they are made from Jipijapa leaves!
- TEA (46d) and WATER (47d) are both "No-calorie drinks" - cute.
- FGHI (118d - J preceders) made me realize that when I say the Alphabet I have to start at the beginning every time to get it right.
- I wonder if FRED (128a - Lyricist Ebb) Flintstone has ever been in a crossword puzzle?
- OF THE ORGANIZATION (71a - Riddle, part 4) spanning the center of the grid gives the puzzle a slightly "Mafioso" feel.
- no self-respecting CPA would stoop to preparing a 1040EZ (45d) - it would be assigned to a lowly assistant, or perhaps the cleaning lady, but the client would still be charged the full fee for "professional services rendered".
- No MORE (51d - Additional) - I can't stand it! How did I END UP (89a - Result) here anyway?
Hey Frank, I found your MISSING PERSIANS!: