14-legged crustacean / THU 10-20-16 / Jesse who lost governor's race to Ronald Reagan in 1970 / 1960s western starring Clint Eastwood

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Medium (despite palindromic giveaways)

THEME: "palindromically"[stares at puzzle in a disbelief he didn't know he could still experience]

Theme answers:
  • EMUS SAIL I ASSUME (17A: "Supposedly, some Australian birds can participate in the America's Cup," palindromically)
  • A TSAR, A NUN, A RASTA (27A: "Peter the Great, Mother Teresa and Bob Marley,
  • TOO BAD I HID A BOOT (47A: "My concealment of that footwear was so unfortunate,"
  • NO WAY A PAPAYA WON (61A: That tropical entry could not have captured first place in the fruit competition, palindromically) (I ASSUME this clue also should've had quotation marks around it, but that's not how it appears in my puzzle file, so that's not how I'm displaying it here)
Word of the Day: Jesse UNRUH (30D: Jesse who lost the governor's race to Ronald Reagan in 1970) —
Jesse Marvin Unruh (September 30, 1922 – August 4, 1987), also known as Big Daddy Unruh, was a well-known American Democratic politician and the California State Treasurer.  // An early endorser of the 1968 Presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy, Unruh helped Kennedy win the California primary election during June, but an assassin's bullet that same night ended Kennedy's life. In the confusion that followed, Unruh helped keep suspect Sirhan Sirhan from the reach of angry Kennedy devotees. After an unsuccessful effort, managed by Unruh and Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, to draft Senator Edward M. Kennedy, he finally endorsed Eugene McCarthy at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. (wikipedia)
• • •

"MA HANDED EDNA HAM! (15) Hahahahahaha let's keep going!" —Bizarro Me playing this ridiculous game.

All these palindromes are on the internet. Finding 15-letter palindromes is child's play. Lazy, boring child's play. How is this a Thursday puzzle from "The Best Puzzle in the World"? Seriously, how? In 2016, how? How desperate is the NYT for Thursdays (or any days)? If your faith in the future strength of the NYT crossword isn't ERODENT at this point, I don't know what to tell you. The Brain Drain is real.

All the crosswordese. All the crosswordese names. And then also UNRUH . . . . [cough] . . . [tumbleweed] . . . [a wolf howls] ...

I'm out.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Bouillon brand name / WED 10-19-16 / Twosome on TMZ / Great Lakes canal name / Dish baked in imu / Cagey debater's tactic / Liberal disiparagingly

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Constructor: Tom Pepper

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: PROVOCATION (36A: Apt title for this puzzle) — words starting with "PRO-" are clued as if "PRO" meant "professional" (i.e. wackily)

Theme answers:
  • PROTESTER (16A: SAT administrator, by trade?)
  • PROCURER (25A: Doctor, by trade?)
  • PROPOSER (48A: Model, by trade?)
  • PROFILERS (57A: Manicurists and tax preparers, by trade?)
Word of the Day: IAN / ANDERSON (41A: With 10-Down, lead vocalist and flutist for rock's Jethro Tull) —
Ian Scott Anderson, MBE (born 10 August 1947) is a Scottish-born musician, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known for his work as the lead vocalist, flautist and acoustic guitarist of British rock band Jethro Tull. Anderson plays several other musical instruments, including keyboards, bass guitar, bouzouki, balalaika, saxophone, harmonica, and a variety of whistles. His solo work began with the 1983 album Walk into Light, and since then he released another five works, including the sequel to the Jethro Tull album Thick as a Brick (1972) in 2012, entitled Thick as a Brick 2. (wikipedia)
• • •

The low end is not nearly as low today—only ORA and LIS, and possibly SOO and HROSS, would I try desperately to eliminate were I the constructor. But the theme remains pretty dang blah. The gimmick is highly repetitive and the comic pay off is highly mild. Theme feels 30+ years old. Quaint, satisfactory, faint grin-inducing. The "by trade?" bit in the themer clues is odd / confusing. I get why it's there—to signal the fact that alleged jobs are involved, to give the clues a uniform look, to signal the wackiness. But with "by trade" in the clues, the PRO- actually becomes redundant. If you are doing something "by trade" you are by definition a PRO. And yet you gotta clue the "PRO" part somehow ... actually you don't. Puzzle might've been a hair's breadth harder, but it played on easy side, so I think you can just have the "?" do all the wacky work and leave the "by trade" bit off entirely. Maybe that takes it to Thursday territory? Dunno. I just found the "by trade" part confusing rather than clarifying.

Only speed bumps in the entire puzzle involved cross-references: EYE clued to POTATO and especially IAN clued to ANDERSON (for me, the toughest answer to get, despite my having vaguely heard of him). Oh, I also really got held up trying to understand 21A: Game one. I took it as "one who is game," i.e. "one who is OPEN to ... anything." So even filling in the first part of the answer didn't disabuse me of this misinterpretation. Turned out to refer to the first game in a series of games, i.e. the OPENER. Of course. I loved YOU'RE ON! This puzzle is in desperate need of more non-moribund stuff like that. I might've turned LUSHES and LEFTY into HUSHES and HEFTY, if only to avoid the needless "disparaging," but half that "disparaging" could've been avoided by just cluing LEFTY a different way (51D: Liberal, disparagingly). I'm not offended. Just seems weird to steer *into* disparaging. But in this election season, maybe not so weird. More typical.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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