This week the Premier Crossword by Frank Longo poses a riddle in a puzzle titled "Body of Literature". I struggled a little working my way through the grid but I eventually managed to piece together all six parts of the riddle and its answer:
23a - SINCE IT TOOK QUITE A LONG
34a - TIME FOR THAT CHARACTER
59a - IN SHAKESPEARE TO
68a - DEVELOP
83a - ALL THOSE MUSCLES
101a-WHAT COULD BE SAID OF HIM?
121a-ROMEO WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY!
There were a few places in the grid where I had to rely on inferences as I wasn't completely certain of the answers. AVOUCH (8d - Affirm frankly) was a new word to me, and the adjoining LIOTTA (9d - Ray of "Blow") was only vaguely familiar so I had to wait for the first part of the riddle to develop and provide the missing letters. Proper names often cause me fits, so when ANNA SUI (79a - Rock Me! is one of her fragrances) shared an initial letter with ASTRID (79d - Pippi creator Lindgren) I was lucky that only one letter seemed to make sense. I can't say the same was true at the common letter shared by PROG (98a - __ rock (Jethro Tull's genre) ) and GODUNOV (99d - Old Russian ruler Boris). My knowledge of 16th century TSARs (40d - 99-Down, for one) is basically non-existent. I had to run the alphabet there and luckily some vague recollection told me G was correct, but I wouldn't have bet the farm that it was right. (In case you're wondering, PROGressive rock originated in the UK and was popular from the mid-to-late 1960s through the 1970s.)
Of course I further complicated matters for myself with some careless mistakes such as writing the answer for 106-Down (FATALE) in the space for 105-Down (SENIOR), and I was well into writing in "spanish" for "Madrileño's language" when I realized that the tilde in the clue meant the answer is in Spanish, so I had to write over the wrong letters I already had in to produce ESPAÑOL. I created additional messiness in the bottom part of my grid when I discovered that ANOINTS (125a- Puts holy oil on) has only one "N", not the two I had used before I ran out of spaces, and it's BEN, not anN for "Stiller of films. All of that is on me, though, and pretty much brings to AN END (108a) my New Year's resolution about neatness.
- I really, really wanted 1-Across, "Kids' racers" to be GO kARTS and google agrees with me, but if you persist you can eventually get it to produce results for GO CARTS, so fair enough.
- Frank cross-referenced SI SI (118d) to ESPAÑOL, but he missed other opportunities at MAS (73a- Women with young-uns) and ESTE (51d - Opposite of west, to Juan). (I took two semesters of Spanish in college and doing puzzles is about the only opportunity I have to use it.)
- I did not know that a GYRE is a spiral; in fact, I didn't even know it was a noun and I was a little doubtful about it even being a word but there it is.
- The clue for UPI, Major news agcy., once (55d) surprised me - are they not still that?
- I wonder how many solvers knew Juba was the capital of SOUTH SUDAN (80d) before the crosswords produced the answer - I certainly did not.
- "Cut off" is a pretty tricky clue for ISOLATE (127a). I like tricky clues.
- "Right-leaning type" for ITALICS (15d) gets me every time as my mind automatically gives it a political reference.
- I have never stayed in a suite that had a WET BAR (13d) - the most I could afford was one with a mini-bar.
I grew up in the '60s so I know about sit-ins, sleep-ins and love-ins (my personal favorite) but I have never heard of a PRAY-IN (31d - Social protest with supplication). Maybe I traveled in the wrong circles.
Time to say IT'S DONE (95d - "The end!"), so I'll leave you with some Prog Rock to enjoy (or not - it's entirely up to you).