Sunday, March 1, 2015

LT YR = about 5.88 trillion mi.

This week we're presented with a Premier Crossword by Frank Longo titled "School Orders" which didn't mean much to me by itself, but a glance at the clues reveals that there's a riddle involved so there's nothing to do but launch into the grid and see what develops.

One of the first things I did was to make a completely unforced GOOF (43d - Slip up) by deciding, on the strength of the initial letter alone, that a "Warrior's suit with small, overlapping plates" (3d) would be "Suitofmail" because it fit so perfectly both clue-wise and grid-wise. Of course it turned out to be completely wrong with only the first letter that didn't need to be changed to produce SCALE ARMOR. An early mistake like that can be down-right discouraging but I persevered and managed to recover pretty well. I pretty much cruised through the rest of the grid until I made careless mistake by writing an answer in the wrong spaces, so for "Oscar winner Guinness" (96d) I entered "siralec" in the adjacent boxes for 95d. Of course I immediately discovered the mistake and put ALEC where he rightly belonged in the grid, but I had no idea what the "West African tree" might be, so I had to wait for the crosswords to produce the answer letter-by-letter. The very last letter I put in was an educated guess because I didn't know "Ian who played Bilbo Baggins" (119a) but with HOL- in place the M seemed like the most reasonable choice.

So with the grid all filled in we can see the riddle and its answer:



So let's go back to the title "School Orders" because now we can see that it is a pun all by itself since "Simon Says" is a childhood game commonly played at school (at least it was when I was growing up) and Frank turns it into a game played by a school of fish, so that explains that.

Of course the whole concept has to RELY (60d - Bank (on) ) on the solver knowing the game to begin with. For those who, for whatever reason, aren't familiar with "Simon Says"here's the full low-down from wiki: "Simon Says (or Simple Simon Says) is a child's game for 3 or more players where 1 player takes the role of "Simon" and issues instructions (usually physical actions such as "jump in the air" or "stick out your tongue") to the other players, which should only be followed if prefaced with the phrase "Simon says", for example, "Simon says, jump in the air". Players are eliminated from the game by either following instructions that are not immediately preceded by the phrase, or by failing to follow an instruction which does include the phrase "Simon says". It is the ability to distinguish between valid and invalid commands, rather than physical ability, that usually matters in the game; in most cases, the action just needs to be attempted.
The object for the player acting as Simon is to get all the other players out as quickly as possible; the winner of the game is usually the last player who has successfully followed all of the given commands. Occasionally however, 2 or more of the last players may all be eliminated by following a command without "Simon Says", thus resulting in Simon winning the game.
The game is well embedded in popular culture, with numerous references in films, music and literature."
We'll leave it there - feel free to add a comment about any childhood memories the puzzle may have evoked for you - or if it left you completely (C)FLAT (105d - B soundalike).
I was about to conclude with the observation that the grid didn't contain a single Roman numeral, but then I spotted OTTO I (118a - Holy Roman emperor known as "The Great") lurking in the bottom left corner. I'll conclude instead with the two "stadium shouts" Frank inserted into the puzzle: RAH (83a) and OLE (101a)., and say ADIOS (52a - "Later, José").
I'll leave it up to you to figure out inspired me to choose this totally awesome clip to sign off with:

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