What a great puzzle! The Friday, May 23 crossword (answers) is a debut by Patrick John Duggan, an 18-year-old who just finished his freshman year at Boston University. I'll gush more in a moment, but first some news about the next couple of days.
I know it's a long weekend but keep your pencil sharp and your dial tuned to this blog. Word on the street is very positive for both the Saturday and especially the Sunday puzzles and they will both get the guest blog treatment from frequent commenter PhillySolver.
PS is the first guest blogger I've actually met. He was a judge at the last American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and he wrote this charming remembrance of his time there. He's also been doing a bunch of research already so there will be some good stories along with his analysis. Should be fun.
But back to young Mr. Duggan and his creation. I do the late-week puzzles by printing them out from my computer. As I solve, I circle clue numbers that amuse me or that might make good blog material. Usually I end up with three or four circles. This time I counted fourteen. If you haven't tried the puzzle, stop reading and start solving.
The first answer I wrote in was LEIBNIZ. Here's the complete Candide chain for crossword solvers: Leibniz (who invented calculus — yes I know, so did Newton) was a rationalist who deduced by logic alone that our universe was the finest God could have constructed, the best of all possible worlds. Voltaire satirized Leibniz as Dr. Pangloss in Candide. Lenny Bernstein wrote the musical. NYT blogger Dick Cavett used one of the songs as the theme music for his talk show. Now you know.
Tell me the shipwreck didn't make you smile. The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew, 1 Down would be lost. Some other favorite clues were "like a wet blanket", "study aid", "destroyers of many castles" (oh, that kind of castle), "popular boxing venue", (right, boxing) and "furniture cover". Once again it was a short answer that most impressed me. "Kerry and McCain, e.g." had to be SENS, right? Nope. They both served. They're VETS.
All this from an 18-year old. How did he do it? Well, he had help, of course. The Internet is a wonderful thing. He didn't grow up humming that 1958 hit. He might not even remember a 1964 shipwreck. But he's got something going for him. I'm looking forward to more. Congratulations on a terrific debut.
I'm working on an artistic project for the next few days but I'll be back for the Monday puzzle. In the mean time, I look forward to catching up and reading my own blog to see what PS has to say. See you next week.