Friday, May 16, 2008
Desperately seeking Vincent
Here goes one of my favorite tricks - the clues in alphabetical order. This doesn't mean I'll manage it, but I like the trick. Some clues have a misprint (in definition), giving an author's name, two dramatizations (probably in those long unclued spots at the top and the bottom). No three-letter words, only three 8-letter words, and four 6-letter words. Lots of 7-letters. This is going to be a tricky grid to put together.
First step: tackle clues wordplay first. No idea how many misprints there are going to be. A first run through the clues looks promising. The first clue is definitely ACNE and the second is ALKALI which means the misprint is an E - base solution (surface harmed a little bit, base's solution?). But the clues looks mostly straightforward, and eventually (certainly aided by being able to guess a lot of the first letters) I've got a little more than half of the words. There were some nice clues in this set, I liked the ones for KINETIC, UMPS, NATASHA and NOVELISE.
Stuck point #1. Can't get any more clues, and (as later I will find I am incorrect), I think I have EMPHRDAG as the letters of the author that gets me nowhere. (The H came from MEW going to HEW, I later corrected it to MOW, the M from LOAF going to LOAM, but of course LOAF didn't have to change, did it?).
I only have two of the 8-letter words at this point, ESTROGEN and NOVELISE. They don't cross each other, so on a whim I try each of them at 19a and look for crossing words. This turns out fruitful, and I found that most of the words I had fit across the top with ESTROGEN at 19 and since I had all the five-letter words but two, and none of them had an O as the second letter, I put NOVELISE at 18. The grid is looking decent now, except for the SW corner. And I'm pretty stuck there.
OK, let's play with the long entries. Thanks mostly to putting UMPS in at 6D I can see that HOUSE OF USHER will fir across the top. It's Poe... (this is where I clear up my two bum letters). Looking at the misprints I have gets me the rest of the top of the grid (after scanning, I noticed I have MENNE instead of BENNE at 17) - the misprints are in the across clues from 9 to 32! I thought they would have been more scattered than that.
This gives me TOMB OF LIGEIA (Films based on Poe novels - that makes the title Murder - anagram - AT THE RUE MORGUE) at the bottom, and a full grid.
Adjustment - the HOUSE OF USHER has to fall, and it does nicely, making all complete words in the bottom. The TOMB OF LIGEIA gets dug up, so replacing the top with the bottom I've got another set of proper words. No idea if the RUE MORGUE has to be applied anywhere. And where is Vincent Price? Can't have a Poe movie crossword without Vincent Price!
Nice puzzle, deceived me for a while. And two in a row for George, eking out a comfortable lead in the battle. Current standings - George 11, Listener 6. Current streak: George 2