Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bakov, Hakov, Jakof and Wakov all seemed plausible, too


Today is Mother's Day in the U.S. - not only that, it's the 100th anniversary of Mother's Day which was designated as an official holiday by a proclamation signed by President Woodrow Wilson on May 9, 1914. I mention this only because it's an event which I thought might be celebrated in the Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo, but it's not. Instead we are presented with a puzzle titles "Kid-Lit Quack" which involves a riddle that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Mom. Well, it does turn out to involve a beloved children's book but my guess is that's incidental to the holiday.

Once you know there is a riddle to be solved there is nothing to do but launch into the puzzle and see where the crosswords take you (and hope that there's not some obscure proper name at a crucial place). I printed out my own solved grid instead of the paper's solution only to demonstrate that I actually managed to finish the whole puzzle without rendering any portion of it unreadable due to write-overs - this is probably more attributable to the relative ease of most of the fill than it is to any improvement in my solving skills, but I'm still pretty proud to have finished with no major gaffes. I kn ow my handwriting leaves something to be desired but I hope you can read it well enough to get any answers you need.

So, here's what we get for our effort:

23a - WHAT SHOULD ONE
35a - TITLE A CHILDREN'S NOVEL
53a - ABOUT A GUY WHO IS A
80a - FRAUD AND WEAVES A
95a - COMPLEX NETWORK OF LIES?

115a-CHARLATAN'S WEB

I have nothing more to say about that - draw your own conclusions.

When I had the grid almost filled in and the riddle was already complete, I had two blank squares to deal with and I seriously wondered if I might not finish the puzzle because of them.  For some reason I could not come up with a word for "Greenish-blue colors" (58a) with the letters I had in place and the crosswords were both proper names with which I was unfamiliar. "Caught between ___and Charybdis" (51d) wasn't coming to me even with S_YLLA staring at me, and Comedian ___Smirnoff (59d) looks to me like a made-up name. With _AKOV in place I did what I always do when faced with a blank square, I ran the alphabet and I have to say I came upon some pretty interesting possibilities before I got all the way to Y, which seemed like a likely candidate. With that as a possibility I decided I had seen CYANO somewhere before and went with that as my "final answer". Happily, luckily, it was right, but that's not the way I like to finish a puzzle. Still, it did give me the chance to learn this (from wiki): "Being between Scylla and Charybdis is an idiom deriving from Greek mythology, meaning "having to choose between two evils". Several other idioms, such as "on the horns of a dilemma", "between the devil and the deep blue sea", and "between a rock and a hard place" express the same meaning."

All my other difficulties were self-inflicted, for example I mis-read the clue for CSPAN (8a) as, "Hearing-aid channel" and wanted "canal" (as in ear canal, that makes sense, doesn't it?) but Bill NYE (12d) disabused me of that notion so when I re-read the clue it all became clear. I'm not a sci-fi buff so I ASIMOV (16d - 1994 sci-fi writer's memo) caused a little scare but I managed to dredge the name up from some distant memory. It took most of the crosses to see PRO BALL (10d) for "The major leagues" but it makes perfect sense, I guess. TITRATE (4d - Measure via a reagant) needed every crossword  but it eventually showed up. Ditto for "Me Talk Pretty One Day" author David SEDARIS (9d) and "The Stupids"star Tom ARNOLD (11d).

If a "Baby female sheep" is a EWE LAMB (91d) would a "baby male sheep" be a "ram lamb", I wonder? And what would they be called if they had been DESEXED (123a - Spayed, say)? Okay,, NO MAS (38d - "Enough!" in El Salvadore). I hope mothers everywhere can spend the day ROBED (122a - Wearing a housecoat), maybe enjoying a glass of MARSALA (25a - Sweet Italian wine) while their children lavish love and attention on them (or at least don't forget to call). Don't bother to get up, I'll show myself the WAY OUT ( 56d - Exit door).

Oh, wait! I just noticed LOOK MA (50d - Cry before "No hands!") almost smack dab in the middle of the grid - maybe Frank didn't blow Mother's Day off completely, after all.




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