Sunday, April 13, 2014

A literal puzzle with an alliterate title


This week the Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo is a totally straight-forward piece of work titled "Literal Language Lesson", and that's exactly what it is - the theme answers are each clued with a single foreign word that we are to translate into English and enter into the grid.

23a - PANE > ITALIAN BREAD
33a - CORNE > FRENCH HORN
42a - KIELBASA > POLISH SAUSAGE
63a - KOUCHUU > JAPANESE BEETLE
72a - LUACH > HEBREW CALENDAR
94a - TORTILLA > SPANISH OMELET
100a-CRUX > LATIN CROSS
115a-BAGVAERK > DANISH PASTRY

My foreign language skills are limited to being able to order a beer in several different countries but otherwise I don't know my KOUCHUU from my BAGVAERK, but that didn't keep me from working my way through the grid with barely a hitch. The theme is helpful in that it lets you fill in the first part with only a few letters in place - although I probably should have waited to see if JA------ might be JAvANESE, which it certainly could have been. The second half of the answers were more random and could have been almost anything but the crosswords were generally easy enough to
plug in without difficulty, so no problem.

The non-theme clues were likewise literal and straightforward with nary a "?" or pun to be seen. I seldom get through a whole puzzle without any write-overs at all but I thought I was going to make it today - until I decided not to wait on any crosswords to confirm cAlmS where TAMES needed to go (102d - Instills docility in). I like a little cleverness in the clues and don't mind changing an answer when I've been outsmarted, so a neat finished grid is not necessarily a good thing from a solving perspective.

I did enjoy learning (or more likely relearning, as it seems like I should have known this) that OEDIPUS was the Sphinx riddle solver (96d) ("Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?" She strangled and devoured anyone unable to answer. Oedipus solved the riddle by answering: Man—who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two feet as an adult, and then uses a walking stick in old age - wiki) 

There were a couple of dubious crosses that concerned me a little. "Farming-related prefix" (62d) can be AGRi, AGRa, or AGRO depending on the needs of the grid so I always wait for the crossword to give me the terminal letter; "Actor/singer Zac" (77a) wasn't exactly helpful, but I finally decided, correctly, that EFROM was more likely than the alternatives. Crossing two proper names from pop-culture will almost always give me fits, so "Actress Gilbert" (109d) and "Dunne of film" (120a) could conceivably have been IlENE/SAlA, but that seemed unlikely. Had I not known that TIVO is a DVR brand (108a) I might have guessed that "Singer LeAnn" (103d) spelled her last name RyMES as that seems like a perfectly good surname. But as the saying goes, "All's well that ends well".

And on that note I will bid you "Farewell" (English AUF WIEDERSEHEN) (do you see what I did there?):

 

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