The Most Stunning Crossword Ever Published – 6.3.11

The Press Crossword –K8XN_crossword_6.3.11

Once in a lifetime, a puzzle so remarkable comes along that mere words cannnot do it justice. Alex Boisvert pointed out this one, and I had to come out of retirement to ensure it got the recognition it deserves.

To steal entire passages from the great Seattle constructor, Sam Donaldson, at length and without permission, except for changing the numbers:

This time, it’s a 84/53 freestyle puzzle (that’s shorthand for saying 84 words and 53 black squares). The typical freestyle–that’s what the cool kids call a “themeless” puzzle–has no more than 72 words, and, while there is no conventional limit on the number of black squares, the typical freestyle usually sports 32 or fewer black squares.

When I see conventions get flouted, I expect there to be some kind of payoff or some other justification for the departures. [/end theft]

The payoff here is a puzzle with a “freshness factor” (to steal a term from another Seattler/ite) off the charts. The clues and answers will shock you, or my name isn’t Patrick Krozel Quigley.

Now for the highlights.

One- letter answers: E, P. The clues are missing in my copy. so I guess this is really an 86/53. 

Two-letter answers:

Exabyte- EB. 1 EB = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 B = 1018 bytes = 1 billion gigabytes = 1 million terabytes.  The largest unit ever seen in crosswords. Bravo!

4th US state – GA. The other 3 states are solid, liquid and gas.

Public promotion of a product – AD. The alliteration gives away the fact that the answer starts with P.

Point midway between N and E – NE. First of the theme answers.

Bladed tool – AX. Usually seen with an unnecessary E. But E already appears in this puzzle so it makes sense.

2001 Spielberg film – AI the ExtraTerrestrial.

Rural delivery – RD. Nice misdirection using the small d.

Silver – AG. Glad that stale attorney-general clue was avoided.

Newark Del. school – UD. Take that, overexposed USC and MIT.

Atomic #27 – CO for Cobalt. This should say obsolete, as Cobalt has been replaced by Cruze. I drive a Cruze, a wonderful car that I have to take in tomorrow since I got a recall notice saying everything is fine, don’t worry, but it is possible that the steering will fail AT ANY TIME AND YOU WILL DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH!

The long answers:

1/1000 of an inch – MIL. Right next to EB for a cool big/small pairing.

ADA/AGA/ARA. A mini-theme-a.

‘___ death do us part – TIL. Apostrophes rock!

Easiest crossing:  [South African village] KRAAL crossing [Swedish krona] SKR/BAEL/ALM.  We see that  every day.  C’mon, challenge me!

[Yellow edible Indian fruit] – BAEL. “Edible” gave it away. I was thinking “BANANA”.

[River in Upper Austria] – ALM. You wanted Lower Austria, didn’t you?

[Boater] – WATERMAN.  L”homme d’eau in French.

[Ursidae family] – BEAR. Mama, Papa and Baby Ursidae.

[Removes an apple’s center] – CORER. Nice mismatch to throw us.

[Fipple flute] – RECORDER. Gimme. I played a RECORDER in Mr. Fipple’s grade two class.

BOMB/BANGS/BAGS – All in one row! Cool!

[Czar (alt.)] – the rarely seen TSAR.

[Rhizopodan (alt. sp.)] – AMEBA. Other alt. sp. for Rhizopodan are SDFGDS, BNGHUTY, BRITNEY and KUMQUAT.

[Region near TROY] – TROAS, also known as the Catskills.

[One afflicted with paresis] – PARETIC.

[A maker of saddles] – SADDLER.  Wow. Genius.

[Interpersed with introns] – EXONS. Didn’t we just see this clue/answer combo last Monday?

[MN 55121] – EAGAN. Famous, of course, for the 2008 vote where the citizens voted 53% to 47% to allow for private development of a defunct golf course instead of having the City purchase the land for future public development or open space. That was a nailbiter.

[Founder of Babism] – BAB. Known as The Bab, he hit 71.4 home runs.

[Supernatural force] – MANA. The only force stronger than MANA is WOMANA.

Other theme answers: [Midway between NE and E] – ENE and [One point S of due E] -EBS. Or maybe EHS. EES? Could be anything.

There’s more but…well, there’s less but…I’ll solve the rest while waiting for my car. If I make it to the dealer. Well, at least my last crossword will be a memorable one.

0.125 stars.

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20 Responses to The Most Stunning Crossword Ever Published – 6.3.11

  1. Alex says:

    [Capital of Morocco]=RABAST is pretty awesome.

  2. pauer says:

    Yikes. I would click on the link to see this monstrosity for myself, but I don’t want to give them any traffic for such dreck. Unless this is a very tardy April Fool’s joke, in which case: well done!

  3. pannonica says:

    I am shocked, shocked to learn of that and stunned, stunned to have actually seen it. Now I shall weep, weep.

    Maybe it’s part of a concerted stealth tactic to dissuade a new generation from crosswords and challenging mental activity in general? Oh wait, it’s from Canadia, not Amurrica. I’ll just go back to weeping.

  4. Gareth says:

    Sigh. Recently for our “student welfare week” the student council printed a puzzle each day of unknown source of not much better quality (at least they were 40/78 themelesses with no 2s or 1s) but the clue writing and needless obscurity were in fact present. If someone had asked me I could’ve at least pointed them to Newsday! Groan.

  5. jamie says:

    That was “pasetic.”

  6. Toby says:

    Kinda makes me think we should start a Museum of Bad Crossword Puzzles, a la:

  7. bsd987 says:

    Where did it earn the .125 stars?

  8. pannonica says:

    “Where did it earn the .125 stars?”


  9. Stan Newman says:

    This crossword appears every week in a local Pennysaver, which is currently owned by Newsday (my home paper). I have attempted on several occasions to get that ghastly excuse for a puzzle out of the publication, but my editorial contacts at Newsday told me the Pennysaver people get the crossword and a wordsearch for free from some unstated source, and they don’t care how bad the crossword is.

    But I will forward the URL of this page to my editor at Newsday.

  10. Eric Maddy says:

    Wow, Tim Parker is branching out.

  11. Alex says:

    This puzzle is found in a depressingly large number of publications. But if, as Stan says, it’s a free crossword, then I can understand that.

    What I don’t get is — how is it so bad? Doesn’t it take a lot of effort to make a puzzle this bad? Wouldn’t it be really easy to write a high-quality Monday-level themeless puzzle every week just by using autofill in Crossword Compiler?

  12. AngelSong says:

    Well there’s 5 minutes of my life I won’t get back. I like the misdirection with the headline so the unsuspecting puzzler will actually print and do the crossword before reading the review! I think you’re onto something with the theme though, as if you do look at the puzzle as a compass, the two best sections are certainly N and E.

  13. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Horrible missed opportunity here. When you have the ANOA and the MOA and you’ve got the two-letter answer AI, how on earth do you not go with [Three-toed sloth]??

  14. Jeffrey says:

    @pannonica – No, we import it from Amurrica. Continue weeping.

    @bsd987 – 0.125 stars is for symmetry. Also need to leave some space in case a worse puzzle comes along.

    @Stan et al – Here in Victoria, it runs off and on in the local free paper, presumably when they have to fill unsold ad space. This same paper once featured Martin Ashwood-Smith in a cover story about “our” great crossword constructor. It is enough to make one PARETIC.

    @Amy – You mean it could have been worse?

  15. Matt Gaffney says:

    Jerry Seinfeld’s line about professional wrestling:

    “If it didn’t already exist, I could never have come up with it”

  16. Martin says:

    Our community weekly used to run this puzzle too. I wrote to them for a while but it was clear they couldn’t care less. Mercifully, they got absorbed by the San Jose paper.

    One other thing I noticed: for at least 5 weeks in a row, the grid was identical. Just different autofill.

  17. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Ulp. Reminds me of the Spanish-language crossword I saw in a discarded newspaper on the NYTimes subway where one of the few clues I could solve (the solution was upside down on the same page so I know I was right) was one of the longest entries in the grid: AERONAVEGACION clued as “Navegación aérea”!

    Now the real challenge here is to come up with a worthwhile puzzle that commits all those mistakes but for a good reason :-)

  18. Jeffrey says:

    So they looked at my car, did nothing and declared it safe. I’m so relieved. But just to be cautious, nobody drive on my left.

  19. NDCaesar says:

    Noam: It’s been done before, and very well.

    “Extinct Namibian shrub genus: Var.”

  20. pannonica says:

    I must have missed that one the first time around. Thanks!

    SPOILER: Follow-up to NDCaesar’s comment.

    Also, the clue for 21d is incorrect; should be “browser” instead of “grazer”.

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