The Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo for this week is titled "Nabbing Yearly Awards" and a quick glance at the clues reveals it's a riddle puzzle. I always solve the puzzle from left-to-right and top-to-bottom so it's fun to see if I can guess the riddle parts from the letters that are already filled in by crosswords as I move through the grid. Today I was able to progress through the whole riddle with nary a hiccup; the answer, though, put up some resistance as some of the answers in the bottom right eluded me and I had to piece it together bit by bit and letter by letter. It all worked out in the end but I had to stare at the answer for a few seconds to get the pun. I'll let you be the judge as to whether it was worth the effort:
23a - WHAT DO PEOPLE
31a - CALL AN ANNUAL SHOPPING
49a - EVENT AT WHICH VARIOUS
69a - COMMEMORATIVE
87a - TABLETS ARE OFFERED AT
105a-GREATLY REDUCED PRICES?
So there you have it - it's a tribute puzzle to an annual shopping event during which American consumers engage in a frenzied shopping SPREE (128a - Binge at a mall, say) on the day after Thanksgiving: Black Friday. Here's all you need to know about the event: (from wiki) "Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the fourth Thursday of November), often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. In recent years, most major retailers have opened extremely early and offered promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season, similar to Boxing Day sales in many Commonwealth Nations. Black Friday is not a holiday, but California and some other states observe "The Day After Thanksgiving" as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday such as Columbus Day. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the day after off, followed by a weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers." Puzzles are usually published at a time that coincides with the theme so I'm not sure why we are seeing this one in early February - maybe Frank is in cahoots with the retail industry to gin up yet another reason for shoppers to spend too much on stuff they don't need. I'm not sure commemorative tablets are going to catch on as a "must-have" item though - maybe Hallmark could develop a marketing strategy to turn the day into another unofficial "holiday" like "Grandparents Day" and we can all but a plaque to commemorate a special person or event.
Hey, I just realized what happened on this date in 1964: (from cbsnews.com) "On Sunday, Feb. 9, it will have been 50 years to the date that the Beatles stepped foot inside the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York. It marked John, Paul, George and Ringo's first American TV appearance. Some 74 million people tuned in. And music would never be the same." I think this would make a nice plaque to mark the occasion:
Let's see, what else in the grid caught my eye:
-ICH (93a - German's "I") LIEBE (79a - German's "love") seems like an incomplete Valentine's Day sentiment.
-INTERLARD I have learned (post solve) is a perfectly good word in current usage, so I'm not sure why Frank chose an obsolete definition as the clue: (from Dictionary.com) "verb (used with object)
1.to diversify by adding or interjecting something unique, striking, or contrasting (usually followed by with ): to interlard one's speech with oaths.
2. (of things) to be intermixed in.
3. Obsolete . to mix, as fat with lean meat.
-I'm not a believer that a FAITH HEALER (68d) is really a "Divine cure deliverer" but that doesn't mean it's not a good clue.
-For "Org. with Fraternal lodges" (103d) I immediately entered Elks - that caused me a lot of grief until I realized that Frank wanted the initials of their full name, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
-The German sub-theme already noted continues with 10d - Mark in "Für Elise" - I thought I was looking for a proper name until the much more literal UMLAUT appeared from the crosswords. I like it.
-There are two "Gender-altering suffixes" in the grid, ETTE (39a) and ESS (48a). Are there any suffixes that change a female noun to a masculine one, I wonder? Seems sexist to me.
-I drew a total blank on ROY G. BIV (103a), so this seems appropriate:
That's all - YAY! (123d - "Wahoo!")