No spoiler warnings in today's blog and no symmetry in today's puzzle. It's the birthday of the one true king of rock and roll -- Buddy Holly -- and we're celebrating by breaking all the rules.
Frank Longo's Weekend Warrior puzzle for September 7th, 2007 is asymmetrical, and it's a perfect example of why I think the crossword's slavish devotion to symmetry has run its course. It seems to me that symmetry has stuck around mainly to keep constructors honest, id est, so they can't just slap up a black square whenever they get lazy. But I think most modern constructors, at least in reputable publications, take too much pride in their work for that to be necessary.
Obviously Longo didn't go asymmetrical here cuz he was lazy. There are 8 15-letter answers in this puzzle and 2 11-letter answers and only 25 black squares. A great puzzle with some great fill that might not have been possible with symmetry.
It took me a while to finally accept the fact that this one was not going to symmetrical no matter which way I turned -- for a couple of seconds I thought it might be diagonally symmetrical -- but when I did, I said "Cool!" and got to work. I got 1A: "The way things were explained to me. . . " (AS I UNDERSATAND IT) pretty quickly with just the U in UTILE (4D: Of service), the S in SSE (9D: Salem-to-L.A. heading), the T in THX (10D: Texter's expression of gratitude) (By the way, as a follow-up to the "charactar" trait word search entry, I hear that teachers no longer correct text-message and IM shorthand like "THX" and "enuf" on papers that kids turn in. God knows what this generation's crossword puzzle will look like, assuming they even have anything like that. Can you solve puzzles if you have no attention span and nobody ever taught you how to spell?) and the N in NORSE (12D: Like Tyr). (I have a soft spot in my heart for the Norse Gods which began by reading Thor comic books as a kid. Tyr is their god of combat -- although all of those guys liked to fight. Tuesday is named after him.)
Once I got 1A, I was able to get EMT (7D: Worker at a pile-up) and I knew 2D: Qaboos bin Said's domain was going to be SULTANATE of something or other. Then after I got 17A: Nth degree (ULTIMATE EXTREME) and a few of the three-letter answers in Oregon, I was able to get 1D: Broadway song that comes before "Adelaide's Lament" (A BUSHEL AND A PECK)
And -- major digression on the way -- this is my favorite answer in the puzzle, actually my favorite answer of any puzzle in recent memory. My maternal grandmother passed away when I was eleven years old, but I remember her singing this silly little song to me -- "'Cause I love you, a bushel and a peck You bet your pretty neck I do! Doodle, oodle, oodle. Doodle, oodle, oodle. Doodle oodle oodle oo -- and when she would get to the "Doodle-oodles" she would blow on my neck and make that farty noise that all little kids love. What a cool grandmother.
I have to tell you about one more song she sang to me that I will never forget. I don't know where she got the song but this is how it went:
I bought a wooden whistle
But it just wooden whistle
So I sat down and went boo-hoo!
Then I bought a steel whistle
But it steel wooden whistle
So I sat down and went boo-hoo!
Then I bought a tin whistle
And now I tin whistle all day long!
The boo-hoos were accompanied by some histrionic emoting that never failed to crack me up. I think it's not too much of a stretch to say that this song my grandmother sang to me was the foundation of my lifelong love of puns.
Okay, digression over. I do Frank Longo's Sunday puzzles (not sure who they're syndicated by) cuz they always have some interesting clues even if the puzzles are kind of easy. This puzzle wasn't easy but I must have been on Longo's wavelength cuz I finished it in better-than-average time for a Friday. The entry that caused me the most problem was the four-letter word at 26A: Circle's lack, which I was sure had to be EDGE and it turned out to be ENDS.
I apologize for the lack of illustrations today. I tried to find one for 31A: Bearded ____ (reedling) (TIT) but Google Images must be malfunctioning, for some reason the only bearded tit pictures I could find were of birds?!
Have a great weekend.