★ I was baffled for the longest time — was PROSE POETRY supposed to be PROSE ROSE POETRY or something? Headslap moment when I realized it was P. ROSE POETRY. Brilliant! So many celebs go by their first initial and their last name (or part of it), like D Wade (Dwyane Wade), J Law (Jennifer Lawrence … or Jude Law?), etc. Great idea, cluing all these normal phrases as if they were parsed into celeb-ish names.
And the poetry for P. ROSE! "Charlie Hustle is my name / I am banned from the Hall of Fame" = fantastic. Great entry and even better clue, like something Muhammad Ali might have said in taunt. (I didn't know the MALI EMPIRE, but I really liked learning about this historical powerhouse.)
I did find it odd to get Stephen HARPER's first name right in the clue, but I'm the first to admit that I couldn't have guessed who Stephen Harper was, even given eleventy-billion guesses. So I appreciated the hint.
These young guns are two of the best in the new generation. I love me some Agard puzzles — his indies are some of my favorites out there — and Peter Broda blew my mind with a hero metapuzzle a while back.
Sometimes with the indies, I have a hard time getting into the hot / trendy people they throw in; names that you either know or don't, ones that either elate you or leave you shrugging.
So to get fresh, juicy bonus entries that even this old crotchety fella can appreciate was great. VICE UNIT! BEER DARTS! (I didn't know that one, but it wasn't hard to figure out from the clue.) URL HIJACKING! And HARRY HOUDINI with its appropriately confounding clue about when Houdini was buried (for a stage trick) vs. his death = brilliant.
There were a few tough themers — if you never watched "Friends," CHANDLER BING would be rough. And even rougher if you don't know who C. HANDLER (Chelsea Handler) is.
But overall, loved, loved, loved it. Such fun to do the puzzle, and even more fun to analyze why that was. More please, sirs!
P.S. RETCON = retroactive continuity. Even as a writer, I didn't know that — fun to learn!
Beautiful work from one of the up-and-coming young male indie constructors. Peter does something unusual today, merging triple-stacks together in the NW and SE corners. That's not often done, because it's hard to work those big L-shaped corners while keeping fill both lively and snazzy. It's tough enough to make three entries work well together in a triple-stack, and much, much more difficult to make six entries mesh.
The NW especially shows gold-medal execution. Not only does Peter have a fantastic triple-stack in GYPSY JAZZ (Django is one of my favorite musicians; awesome to see him get his due) / NOT YOU TOO / AHA MOMENT, but he crosses those with YO HEAVE HO. And single-word entries can often feel neutral or fall flat, but PTARMIGAN has that coolly bizarre PT- start, and SYMMETRY is so crosswordy. Nary a glue entry, too.
The young male indie movement isn't for everyone, of course. This is only the second time I've heard of DID I STUTTER (the first time was when another young male constructor showed me a grid for review). I'm sure certain solvers will love this entry, but it didn't do anything for me — the dangers of featuring a "hip" phrase which won't near-universally resonate. It's hard to predict if certain "fresh" phrases will have staying power or they'll fall by the wayside and quickly feel passe.
Ingenious layout, leading to a huge number of quality entries with very few minuses. Extremely hard to execute these big L corners, and Peter did a bang-up job today.