Friday, April 9, 2010

Moral Compass
by Brendan Emmett Quigley
edited by Mike Shenk
April 9, 2010

As of this posting, full answers not yet available on WSJ's crossword puzzle page. Therefore, take these answers with g. of salt.

Theme: A timely tax quote
THE BEST MEASURE OF {24A Start of a quote by 83-Across}
A MANS HONESTY {36A Part 2 of the quote}
ISNT HIS INCOME {50A Part 3 of the quote }
TAX RETURN ITS THE {65A Part 4 of the quote}
ZERO ADJUST ON {97A Part 5 of the quote}
HIS BATHROOM SCALE {111A End of the quote}
ARTHUR C CLARKE {83A Science fiction author and source of the quote}
Wiki attributes this to “The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners (2004) by Geoff Tibballs, p. 264.” The man, the foundation, the quotes – which are worth a detour. I tried to pick one as an example but wanted to paste them all. A blogger starving between two pages of text.

The quote is also cited in a list of tax quotes by the IRS, which proves that someone there has a sense of humor, not matter how unlikely that seems to someone else who was up until 1 am wrestling with Form 2210's Annualized Income Installment Method.

Letter of the Puzzle: W
I don't have the cool crucimetrics of An Englishman but I couldn't help noticing lots of spiky letters. This was no mistake, in an interview, the constructor said, “I think going all Scrabbly with the fill is, on the whole, a good thing.”

News To Me: 7
OCARINA {21A Instrument with finger holes} – a old-time flute.
REFIT {55A Accouter anew} - as in accoutrements.
EReS {57A Aces' are low} – No idea. All I get are Spanish sites. I'm thinking the ' after Aces is important. I'm fairly sure about the crossings but am open to amendment. Later: Diary of a Crossword Fiend says, “57A. [Aces' are low] – ERAS. As in baseball pitchers.” I misspelled Lamb Chop's alter ego!?! {SHARI 45D Lewis with Lamb Chop} Shame on me. I adore both Ms. Lewis and Ms. Chop. I saw them live at the Kennedy Center years ago and her (Shari's) ability to enthrall a concert hall of both kids & adults has become one my definitions of what it means to be an entertainer. This is the song that never ends..., available as ringtone & MP3 download. Even later: This is the song that never gets out of your head...

IPANEMA {63A Beach adjacent to Copacabana Beach} – in Brazil not on old CDs.
PTRAP {64D Letter-shaped plumbing fitting} – I would have, and tried to, call it a u-bend.
ESTO {105D “___ perpetua” (Idaho motto)} – It is perpetual.
ORTS {107D Table scraps} – Perhaps a new clue could be Oral Rehydration Therapy. OK, it doesn't pass the breakfast test but it's such a simple fix to a serious problem.

Admissions of Defeat: 0? Make that 1?
The constructor must have toned down the fill for a quote puzzle, o/w there is no way I'd move that quickly nor successfully through a BEQ puzzle. Thursday was my day to feel smart. Since this puzzle was posted the night before, it was the same day as Matt Ginsberg's NYT Jabberwocky puzzle [4/8/10]. MG is another constructor who causes me to sigh in resignation when I see his name on the top of the page. However, I've always said that my poetry appreciation ends with Jabberwocky – and now it's finally done me some good.

Both puzzles also had ENTS{59A Forest of Fangorn creatures}/ {57D Tolkien creatures}NYT and NEER {17D“I __ saw true beauty till this night”: Romeo}/{26D Opposite of alway}NYT. I'm going to stop doing that. One could spend hours cross-referencing words that appear between various puzzles in a given week. I don't need to give any more invitation to the Terrible Trivium, the “demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort, and monster of habit.” [The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster, Random, 1961 p213] No really, it's more efficient to have my colored pens sorted by type.

ACPT Countdown Clock: 342 days
Friday, April 9, 2010, to Friday, March 18, 2011.

Constructor's Corner: BEQ
“Well, I've known Mike Shenk for as long as he's been editing the Wall Street Journal puzzles, and since it's my Dad's favorite newspaper, I feel like I have to make sure to appear in there every now and again. Usually, the hardest parts for making a WSJ puzzle is coming up with a suitable "business-y" theme. In this instance, I found that the taxes related quote could split up symmetrically (not as easy as you'd think). Mike liked it, and we rushed it to print in time before 4/15.

“The hardest part for me was the SE section. 75-Down, specifically. When you have a long entry like that, you really want it to pop. It took a while to come up with something clean (always crucial) and fresh. Of course, as dumb luck would have it, the entry in the grid I sent Mike is a crucial entry that is appearing in tomorrow's variety puzzle. So, he redid the corner. Great minds think alike, I guess.”

Thank you, Mr. Quigley.
[75D appeared as TALETELLER {Raconteur}]

Katherine Walcott
Puzzle Fan

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