Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bring your abacus for 84 across

The Premier Crossword by Frank Longo is titled "Falling Rain" and that turns out to be more important than usual because this week Frank has mixed things up a little, architecturally speaking.
I don't know if this is the first time he has arranged the theme answers in the down answers instead of across, but it caught me by surprise anyway. Even so, it didn't take long to figure out that the "falling rain" was in the long down answers which literally contained "rain" falling down the grid. That revelation was actually quite helpful in solving the puzzle, and in the end we have these to provide a lot of letters for some of the less obvious across entries (more on that in a minute):

3d  -  RAINN WILSON ("The Office" actor)
5d  -  SPRAINED ANKLE (Often-iced injury)
25d - ODESSA UKRAINE (Port on the Black Sea)
29d - TRAINING SCHOOL (Vocational college)
36a - QUICHE LORRAINE (Pielike cheese-and-bacon dish)
49a - BRAIN ACTIVITY (An EEG records it)
62d - COARSE GRAINED (Rough in texture)
73a - SHOWER DRAIN (Bathroom stall outlet)

I just noted an extra little element of elegance in the symmetry of the placement of "rain" within the answers as they appear in the grid - very nice touch!

So the theme is fairly simple in concept but very nicely executed construction-wise, I think.  Having to see the answers vertically instead of horizontally definitely gave my brain a work-out, in a good way.

In the final analysis I came up one square short of  having a correctly completed grid and as usual it was a result of my ignorance of pop-culture proper names.  I had a couple of scary moments with MIRA (22a - Sorvino of "WiseGirls"), MARIEL (102d - Actress Hemingway) and IDRIS (117a - Actor Elba) but I was able to sort them out via the crosswords. That was not the case with RAINN WILSON crossing LEW 39a - Treasury secretary Jack), where I guessed that RAIN NeILSON and Jack LEe might very well be perfectly reasonable. which they may be but they're also wrong. So that mistake is all on me.

I really liked a couple of clues, first "Fall right onto one's mug" leading to FACEPLANT (18d) seemed playful and contemporary, then Frank threw in some misdirection when "'60s prez" resulted in nineteenth century president ABE (13d) Lincoln instead of a more recent chief executive.

84a - "C times III" > CCC (comment deleted by author).

I  intended to leave you with "Rhythm of the Falling Rain" but I like this better - I'll be back next week.

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