08.09.07 -- Estrangement

Marc Chagall: Bridges over the Seine


Thursday, August 9, 2007

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Puzzle by Tyler Hinman, edited by Will Shortz

I suppose if one were determined to find a nexus in this crossword puzzle, it might be 20-22A, 36A and 53A with endings of GAL, GAULLE and GALL -- CHARLESDEGAULLE -- (36A President with a bridge in Montreal named after him) is the longest entry in the grid and being in the center begs for the attention -- MARCCHAGALL below (53A He said "Great art picks up where nature ends") might better serve as a focal point, while STEVEN (20A With 22-Across, actor with a black belt in aikido) SEAGAL (22A See 20-Across) the first of the three with his name split by three black squares is just an irritation. With all the acrosses, I was relieved that in addition to Pont Charles-De Gaulle of Montreal, Marc Chagall provides an opportunity to ELEVATE (64A Bring up) an impossible eclectic collection of verbiage devoid of unity.
An odd grid, broken up into three sections with seven stacks of words kept reminding me more of an automobile grille than a crossword grid: Upper left, all down -- QUESTS (1 Knight’s journeys), BARTOK (2 Hungarian composer who wrote “The Miraculous Mandarin”; and SERENA with its tricky clue (3 Star near Venus?) provide happenstance fill, QBS, UAE, ERR, along with STEVEN, TONER and SKAT. Upper right JARGON (11D Computerese, e.g.); ALPACA (12D Wool source); and XFILES (13D 1998 film thriller based on a TV series, with “The”) issue JAX, ALF, and RPI as fill, with SEAGAL, CROCE and UNAS following.
ATLANTA (4A Where Home Depot was founded); SHOWBIZ (15A Tinseltown doings); and PAGEANT (18D Where to see a crown) provides upper center fill of ASPER, THAN, LOG, AWE, NBA, TINS, and AZTEC (10D Tenochtitian dweller).
Issuing through the black squares by one letter are VETERAN (21D Longtime) and ARUGULA (23D Salad bar offering) -- we are now in the central section of the puzzle, which almost stands by itself, as does the first section above and the third section below -- the lower section is connected in the same manner as the upper by by ABITMUCH (38D Too-too) and LIBELLAW (39D Protection against smearing).
In the center section, ASH (25A Cigarette detritus) is piled on top of IMPEL (30A Force along); EASTEREGG (33A Item sought in the spring), the aforementioned CHARLESDEGAULLE and to the sides REBATE (42A Consumer’s enticement); OILIER (43A More smarmy); AMINO (44A Protein building block, for short); and TABOO (48A Don’t do it) -- the rest of the entries in the section are by-chance fill, mostly down.
The third section of the puzzle has a pile of words on the left consisting of FOULOUT (58A Be disqualified, in the 8-Down); ENCLOSE (63A Wall in); and BAHAMEN (65A “Who Let the Dogs Out” group), providing a little life in the puzzle. To the right -- SIMILAR (60A Comparable); ELEVATED (64A Bring up); and RENEWED (66A Like some friendships). The whole section (which includes MARCCHAGALL, SASHA, PIC ascending centrally) provides a downpour of happenstance fill, FEB, ONA, ALLA, ROOM, AMEN, LIVE, ATE, RED and the more lengthy AGILE (51A Unlike klutzes) and SCUSE (50D Italian apologies).
"The Crowd" -- King Vidor, 1928

There is no flow or real connection from one area to the other here -- it is a cordoned-off crowd of words that seem distressed at their estrangement.
Not my cup of tea -- but certainly an original, if claustrophobic, puzzle!
For today's cartoons, go to The Crossword Puzzle Illustrated.
The New York Times Crossword Puzzle solution above is by the author of this blog and does not guarantee accuracy. If you find errors or omissions, you are more than welcome to make note of same in the Comments section of this post -- any corrections found necessary will be executed promptly upon verification.
Puzzle available on the internet at
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
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Linda G said...

Not my cup of tea, either. I'm old school enough to prefer the symmetry we usually see...although someone pointed out on Amy's blog that it was left/right symmetric.

I was rereading your blogs from the last few days. How did I miss your birthday? Anyway, a belated happy one ; )

DONALD said...

Well, I've no real argument about the "symmetry", just the frown the grid projects, like an unhappy emoticom! What I don't like is that it divided the puzzle into three puzzles, what with only two entries on either side provided access to the next section -- essentially just two letters, for a total of four letters linking the three "puzzles" or sections of the crossword puzzle as a whole.

I thank you for the birthday greeting, I did kind of plug it! Uneventful day, did a solo walk along the beach and watched the sun set!