Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's the Ides of March (III/XV/MMXV)

This week the Premier Crossword by Frank Longo bears the title "Roman Invasion" and it didn't take long to discover that in this case the "invaders" were numerals - Roman numerals, that is. Most constructors I think try to avoid using Roman numerals in the grid but here we have Frank, rebel that he is, embracing them in his theme. He has taken eight more or less common phrases and inserted random Roman numerals to create wacky, but not totally nonsensical, new phrases for the puzzle. After I managed to get it all sorted out it looks like this:

23a - HAS A BOVINE TO PICK (Must choose from among the available cows? [6])
34a - DELIVER MEAT (Take a beef order to someone's home? [54])
42a - CROSS COUNTRY SKIMMING (Reading things quickly through fields and woods? [2,000])
64a - HUMDINGER STRIKE (Lulu of a bowling roll? [1,501])
72a - YEAR OF THE BOXCAR (Chinese zodiak part associated with freight trains? [90])
93a - WINE TASTING PARTICLES (Bottle sediment at oenophiles" events? [150])
102a-QUIXOTE MARK (Scar on the Man of La Mancha's body? [9])
117a-BRIDLING TOGETHER (Putting headgear on a horse jointly? [551])

Obviously (now) the numbers in brackets for each of the clues tells us exactly what Roman numeral we are to insert, and I found that helpful in a couple of instances. Solvers who aren't up on their Roman numerology may have struggled with some of the long answers, although the clues are pretty descriptive of the new phrases (not that they all make sense). It didn't help that I really, really wanted the base phrase for DELIVER MEAT to be "deli meat" so that had me confused for a while. Happily I grew up in a hunting family so "deer meat" makes perfect sense, too.

My completed grid was a total mess (hence the newspaper's solution copied above) due totally to my lack of care in checking crosswords before I wrote answers in. In the end I had several write-overs: emiTS/RENTS, Sneak/SIDLE, Singe/SCORCH, Opel/ONYX, mri/TAT and apron/MITTS. Every one of them had the right number of letters and fit the clue, and every one of them was wrong - I hate it when that happens.

I eventually got all my mistakes corrected, had all of the long theme answers filled in, and in the end I was left facing one blank square: the cross of 33d  ("Amélie" star Audrey) and 51a ("Loot" playwright Joe). I had TAU_OU/OR_ON and not a clue as to what the intersecting letter might be. ORsON is a common name so that seemed plausible, but other letters seemed to fit too. In the end I just left it blank, but I don't think the "T" would ever have occurred to me. I had to run the alphabet to finally get BEATZ (61a - Hip-hop artist Swizz__) but at least I knew A ZOO  (56d - "It's ___ out there!" was right when I finally got to the last letter of the alphabet.

It appears there's a matrimonial mini-theme with ALTAR (10a - Wedding vow locale), WED (108a - Say "I do"), UNITE (103d - Marry), all of which, in my experience, will probably end up in the COURTS (81a - Plea places) and leave someone in DEBT (65d - Bar tab, e.g.). I might be a tad jaded on that subject, and as Jimmy Buffett so famously said, "It's my own damn fault!"  See you next week.

LATE EDIT:  I had to come back and give props to  Frank Longo for the timely reference to my home state of MAINE (106d - 23rd state) on the 195th anniversary of its becoming a state (3/15/1820).


  1. Your absence from Rexworld has been noted. Good to see that you've been keeping busy.

    1. Z, it was nice of you to stop by. I've been posting here for a couple of years and while I don't get many visitors I still have fun writing about my solving experience and I've even provoked a couple of comments from Frank Longo, so apparently he sometimes checks in to read my silliness. Of course I still do the NYT puzzles too, but I've mostly been lurking in Rexville; I think after five or so years of daily comments I got a little burned out and it started to seem more like a chore than fun. Now that the days are getting longer (but not any warmer) maybe my mood will brighten and I'll feel like rejoining the syndi-crowd but for now you can find me here every week. Thanks again for visiting my humble blog.