TD Garden athlete informally / TUE 5-23-17 / Friendly Islands native / Bread that's often brushed with ghee

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty:Medium-Challenging (a bit on the slow side for a Tuesday)



THEME: PAIRS (68A: Figure skating event ... or what the circled items always come in) —the circled items all intersect in intriguing but ultimately meaningless ways

Word of the Day: LEN Wiseman (26A: "Live Free or Die Hard" director Wiseman) —
Len Ryan Wiseman (born March 4, 1973) is an American film director, screenwriter and producer. He is best known for his work on the Underworld series, Live Free or Die Hard, and Total Recall. (wikipedia)
• • •

This simply doesn't work. It lacks consistency on many levels. No such thins as one PANT or one TONG, but there is, of course, such a thing as one SOCK or one SKI. Once you let SOCK and SKI play, now *anything* that customarily comes in pairs is fair game: boot, shoe, earring, whatever. I thought maybe the crossing PAIRS crossed in certain ways for certain reasons—the TONGs kinda look like TONGs, and the PANTs are arguably pant-shaped. I guess you could try to contend that the SOCKs form one big sock, but that's pretty tenuous, and then there's the SKIs, which ... have no visual relationship an actual pair of skis. There's some winning fill here and there, but there's a good amount of junk too (RWY!? Wow, terrrrrrrible—only used three times in past decade, and the other two were Sundays).


Puzzle felt more Wednesday than Tuesday. All the colloquial stuff made it quite slow (though also more enjoyable than it would've been otherwise—weird trade-off). [Enthusiastic assent] ("I DO, I DO!") coulda been a million things. Ditto ["Wow, unbelievable!"] ("I'M IN AWE!"). Two-worders were also slippery in places. IN RETURN took me forEver to see (39D: Reciprocally). And [Future perfect tense in grammar class, e.g.] is an absurd clue—an absurdly specific clue—for LESSON. Why would I think "tense" = LESSON. I get that one can teach that as a LESSON, but one can teach *anything* as a LESSON. [Parallel-parking at driving school, e.g.]. But in the end, the fill probably averages out to average. Not bad (well, -EME is pretty bad, and NON-PC can go jump in a lake, along with his ugly cousin, UN-). It's just that this is the kind of theme that you should sit on and rework and rethink until it's Perfect. Why run with half-baked stuff like this. Editor's job is to get the best work out of people. But here we have yet another case of "meh, good enough, run it!"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. NAAN is a bread. NAN (30A) is a Bobbsey Twin or a Talese. 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

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King of gods in Wagner's ring cycle / MON 5-22-17 / Inverse trig function / Form of papyrus document

Monday, May 22, 2017

Constructor: Gary Kennedy

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Monday*) (still under 4 minutes) (relax)

[oversized grid: 16x15]

THEME: SWISS / ARMY / KNIFE (1A: With 43- and 76-Across, camping aid) — four functions of said knife:

Theme answers:
  • CAN OPENER
  • CORKSCREW
  • SCISSORS
  • TWEEZERS 
Word of the Day: WOTAN (2D: King of the gods in Wagner's "Ring" cycle) —
Ultimately from Proto-Germanic *Wōdanaz, cognate with English Woden, Old Frisian Weda, Old Norse Óðinn. Attested since the 12th century in the Chronicon of Godfrey of Viterbo, where it is spelled Wotan. In Old High German, the name could be spelled Wodan, Wotan, Wuotan or Woatan, depending on regional dialect. // After Christianization, the name persisted in folklore and formed various derivations, such as Old High German Wuotunc, Wodunc, medieval Wüetung. In modern (19th century) folklore, invocations of the god could still be found (Grimm, w:Deutsche Mythologie), especially in Westphalia as Wuodan and in Mecklenburg as Wode (also spelled Waur after its approximate pronunciation). However, they descend not from Old High German but from Old Saxon Wodan and Middle Low German variant Wode. // In literary modern German, the spellings Wodan and Wotan competed during the early 19th century, but Wotan became prevalent in the wake of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, published in 1853. (wiktionary)
• • •


WOTAN? Pfffft, man, was that a harbinger. What a dreadful, ridiculous word to put in a Monday puzzle. Just bonkers. But I guess it did prepare me for the Avalanche of crosswordese that followed. This is a solidly Maleskan puzzle. It seriously felt like the early '90s (when I first started solving), when opera trivia roamed freely across the grid and SSTS flew the skies and ... well, IKE wasn't still president, but he may as well have been, as far as the crossword was concerned. If you are putting Cheri OTERI and N*SYNC in your puzzles in order to be hip, with-it, and up-to-date, you are doing something very wrong. And for what? Four functions of a SWISS / ARMY / KNIFE? That is a straightforward, dull-as-dishwater theme. The only thing I admire about it is the grid construction, specifically the breaking of the revealer into three, in order to accommodate the four other themers. Of course, this is also the thing that, from a solver's perspective, I enjoyed the least about the theme. Cross-referenced / themed 1As are Not fun. Also, having themers at the first and last Acrosses still really restricts your grid and puts pressure on the fill, and boy does it show. See WOTAN, above.


Other trouble spots: SHIPLOAD (!?). What a bizarre answer / clue (5D: All a tanker can hold). I assume a SHIPLOAD is *whatever* the so-called "tanker" is holding. The "All" part had me all "???" And that was hot on the heels of The WOTAN Clan (which is what I'm calling that answer now, to amuse myself). Rough. PARTD was also very hard for me to parse (41A: Medicare drug benefit). But my worst wipeout came at 63D: Where all roads lead, it's said. Maybe it says something about my state of mind by that point, but I quickly (and sincerely) wrote in HELL. Let me tell you, it really *felt* right at the time. So right. But then another member of the crosswordese posse (EMERIL!) showed up and I changed HELL ... to HOME. Good look getting 62A: Fad when you're staring down CHA_E. Ugh. But of course all roads lead to ROME, in an old (very old, like everything about this puzzle) saying. Next!!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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