I haven't been able to finish this puzzle yet. Instead of giving up just so I can post to the blog, I'm going to put it aside and come back to it Saturday morning. So the write-up will be a little late today, but I really want to try to finish this thing. (I hope you all are having as much trouble as I am. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.)
Doug pinged me last night after I had been struggling with this monster for over an hour and I had to inform him that I was not on speaking terms with him at the moment. In fact, I'm seriously re-evaluating his Fake Crossword Boyfriend status as a result of this puzzle. Here we are in happier days:
He looks so mild-mannered, right? He's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Even-tempered, down-to-earth, great sense of humor … That he is capable of creating a puzzle so devious, so cruel, so impossible!! Wait. I know he's capable of impenetrable beasts — he's a frequent contributor to Newsday's infamous(ly difficult) "Saturday Stumper." But this is the L.A. Times, son!
Alright, alright. I know I've been complaining about the L.A. Times not being hard enough for months, so I guess I should be happy. Also, when I look at the complete grid, I see where I really should have been able to finish it. But I was frustrated, I'll tell you that. On really tough puzzles that I honestly don't think I'll be able to finish, I sometimes Google one or two answers that I think will help break the puzzle open. Today, those two answers were TWO-SEATER (19A: Certain Sopwith Scout) and OLD NORTH CHURCH (39A: Purported source of Revere's historic signal). Sopwith Scout is complete gibberish to me and I thought with that answer in the grid, the northwest corner would fall. For the other, I had CHURCH in place and was pretty sure about *ORTH, but that was as far as I could get. (I did have Plymouth Church in there a couple times before I Googled it — that seems like an awfully good guess!)
I actually had RHOS (4D: Frat letters) and IN A HOLE (15A: Hard up) in place at one time, but couldn't get anything else to work so tore them out to start over. For COCOA (25A: After-school request) I wanted oreos or snack. For TIC TAC (1D: "Get a bang out of life" mint) I tried Mentos. I tried union, scabs, wages and rates for PLEAS (6D: They may be affected by bargaining). I was a mess is what I'm saying. In case you didn't get that yet.
And even if I had cracked the northwest, the southeast would have made this puzzle a DNF. I do not know the word ADIPOSE (58A: Fatty). I may have been able to come up with ALDEN at some point (48D: Mayflower Compact signer), but I was so beaten and bloodied I'm sure I would have stuck with my guess of Allen. The DETEST / AME cross would have gotten me too (44D: Not fancy in the least / 49A: Soul on the Seine). A French word that looks like it should be a French word we see in puzzles all the time crossing an entry with a super tricky clue (Fancy is a verb!" [headdesk]) — I give up! No mas!
And here's where the cruelty really factors in: I knew ANDRONICUS (10D: Shakespeare title name) and, even more importantly O'NEIL (45D: Negro Leagues legend Buck). I was able to drag a Shakespeare character and a Negro League ballplayer to the surface! Those are kinda tough — "I can do this!" … But no. The exhileration left me with nothing but despair and self-hatred.
There is beauty in this puzzle. ZONK OUT, BALLOON ANIMALS, ANAPEST (another one I knew!) (16A: Crash / 33A: Twisted party decorations / 62A: Three-syllable foot). But the loveliness of those answers is dim and unreachable from where I sit right now, in a space thick with dark and oppressive shame.
I will recover from this. I have to believe that. [sob!]
Crosswordese 101 Round-Up:
- 28A: Tar Heel State campus (ELON).
- 42A: Gulf of Finland feeder (NEVA).
- 4D: Frat letters (RHOS).
- 8D: Energy boss (CZAR).
- 55D: For one (A POP).
Everything Else — 1A: Vamp attachments (T-STRAPS); 8A: They may follow shots (CHASERS); 17A: Crown (CORONET); 18A: Things in the back (ADDENDA); 21A: Aid for a large-group photo (RISER); 22A: Invoice abbr. (AMT.); 23A: Rolls in a nursery (SOD); 24A: "Naked Pictures of Famous People" author Stewart (JON); 30A: Eliot's Old Deuteronomy, e.g. (CAT); 37A: Volunteer, often (FIREMAN); 38A: "If you can find a better car, buy it" speaker (IACOCCA); 41A: Check alternatives (X'ES); 43A: Popped up, in baseball lingo (SKIED); 45A: Leftover (ODD); 46A: Union Sq., e.g. (STA.); 50A: Listed, to sailors (LEANT); 53A: Not finished yet (STILL AT IT); 56A: Dip (in) (IMMERSE); 59A: "The Time Machine" actress (1960) (MIMIEUX); 60A: Finally turns (to) (RESORTS); 61A: Influential second-century astronomer (PTOLEMY); 2D: Treaded transport (SNOWMOBILE); 3D: Justice and Temperance, e.g. (TAROT CARDS); 5D: Excellent (A-ONE); 7D: Small scrap (SET-TO); 9D: Mortar trough (HOD); 11D: Yarn unit (SKEIN); 12D: Seemingly forever (EONS); 13D: Like some awakenings (RUDE); 14D: Have the lead (STAR); 20D: Third-day creation (EDEN); 24D: Fish story notable (JONAH); 26D: Author Robert __ Butler (OLEN); 27D: Source of some sundae toppings (ALMOND TREE); 29D: Of the flock (LAIC); 30D: Prepared with tomatoes, mushrooms and herbs (CACCIATORE); 31D: Philosophers' stone seekers (ALCHEMISTS); 32D: Airport screening org. (TSA); 34D: Did galley work (OARED); 35D: Being broadcast (ON TV); 36D: Alien who reported to Orson (MORK); 37D: Site for aspiring idols (FOX); 40D: Dost own (HAST); 47D: Bridal accessory (TIARA); 50D: Worn out (LIMP); 51D: Shoot out (EMIT); 52D: Battle rounds (AMMO); 53D: Steamy, in a way (SEXY); 54D: Co-star with Courteney and Jennifer (LISA); 55D: For one (A POP); 57D: Dim __ (SUM).