Niece's counterpart in French / TUE 6-28-16 / Mathematician whose name sounds like ship / Antarctic volcano named for place in underworld / Moniker for GErman chancellor Konrad Adenauer / Spider's web-producing organ / Decidedly non-feminist woman's group

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Constructor: Alex Vratsanos

Relative difficulty: Challenging (not even close to Tuesday)


THEME: spider — some spider answers and then eight LEGs

Theme answers:
  • ARACHNIDA (29A: Spider's class)
  • BITE MARKS (48A: Things spiders leave)
  • CHARLOTTE (22D: Spider of children's literature)
  • SPINNERET (23D: Spider's web-producing organ) 
Word of the Day: SPINNERET 
noun
Zoology
noun: spinneret; plural noun: spinnerets
  1. any of a number of different organs through which the silk, gossamer, or thread of spiders, silkworms, and certain other insects is produced.
    • (in the production of man-made fibers) a cap or plate with a number of small holes through which a fiber-forming solution is forced. (google)
• • •

An inspired idea that came out just dreadful. I mean ... it's like the concept took over and no one involved with making this puzzled cared about the solver's experience any more. All technique, no joy. Fill is a disaster—an out and out, tone deaf, ridiculous vocab/proper-noun-laden Dis As Ter. That SE corner alone, jeez louise. HEHHEH?? NEVEU? Honestly, this is abusive. What could've been clever and cute if done properly on a Tuesday just gets destroyed by careless execution. Try to do too much (the legs AND the four themers AND the fact that the themers intersect) and the whole thing falls apart. I mean, SPINNERET? Come on. BITE MARKS? Arbitrary. Why does the technical fact of making four themers intersect mean ... anything? Why subject solvers to arbitrary nonsense just for some technical "feat." And KRESGE (!?) crossing EREBUS and DER ALTE and SOLTI and GALEN? ADLER crossing EDA and NEVEU (!?!!)? Some name-part (!) called GELL crossing EPICENE? ICE ... LESS????? (humans would say "ICE-FREE"). No. It's Tuesday, for ****'s sake. I guarantee you that the multiple concatenations of proper nouns and foreignisms are going to send myriad solvers crashing to the ground. Why distract from your adorable eight-legged creation with a short-fill horror show. It makes no sense.


P.S. I fell asleep before solving last night and woke up to more confused and angry puzzle-related messages / email than I've had in a good long while. OMOO OLEG ... was there some contest to cram as many short crosswordese names into a grid as possible? Because we have a winner.

P.P.S. that clue on HAREM is ridiculous (31D: Decidedly non-feminist women's group). Why is it that every time the NYT crossword touches the word "feminism," it feels like the editor both doesn't understand it and doesn't respect it?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

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Faerie Queene woman whose name means peace / MON 6-27-16 / Spanish red wine / Insult slangily / Admonishment for public displays of affection / Vaping need informally / Lyft competitor

Monday, June 27, 2016

Constructor: Kevan Choset

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: LIVES OF EASE (59A: Carefree existences ... or, punnily, what 17-, 27- and 45-Across have) — answers are LIVES (i.e. human beings) with only "E"s as vowels in their names:

Theme answers:
  • PEE WEE REESE (17A: 1940w-'50s Dodgers great who lent support to Jackie Robinson)
  • ELLEN DEGENERES (27A: Comedian who hosted the 2014 Oscars)
  • RENEE ZELLWEGER (45A: Actress with the classic line "You had me at hello")
Word of the Day: RIOJA (1A: Spanish red wine) —
Rioja [ˈrjoxa] is a wine region in Spain, with Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.Ca., "Qualified Designation of Origin"). Rioja wine is made from grapes grown in the autonomous communities of La Rioja and Navarre, and the Basque province of Álava. Rioja is further subdivided into three zones: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. Many wines have traditionally blended fruit from all three regions, though there is a slow growth in single-zone wines. (wikipedia)
• • •
I have 15 minutes to write this. Can I do it? We'll see.

Finished in 2:40, despite what felt like many hicc- and f*ck-ups. Stymied right away at 1A: Spanish red wine. Only five-letter wine my brain wants is SOAVE, for some reason. Move to 1D: In awe, and confidently write in AGOG. So we're off to a roaring start. Luckily for me, Ed ASNER got me the right track and then PEE WEE REESE catapulted me into the grid (though not before I had a RIOJO/A trip-up; this is why you check your crosses, always. RIOJO / ORE would've looked fine to my eyes ... but 5D clue says otherwise). After I got the NW squared away, I entered answers almost as fast as I could type, with only two real moments of hesitation. The first was at 27D: Vaping need, informally. First, I read it as "vamping" and wanted MIKE (you know, microphone, "informally"). My iPhone autocorrect also insists that "vaping" is "vamping," by the way. When I realized, no, it's "vaping," I just froze. What does one need in order to vape, except possibly "desperation" or "lack of dignity"? E-CIG? That's a weird way to clue E-CIG. Like cluing FOOD [Eating need]. Gah. The less you ask me to know about or think about vaping, the happier we're all gonna be.



The next and final slow-down was the revealer. Had LIVES OF ... and wanted EASE, but the phrase LIVES OF EASE has so little snap, so little crispness, that I couldn't take it seriously as a revealer. The plural is what makes it weird. It's a limping revealer. But it's accurate enough, and the LIVES part takes what could be a supremely dumb idea (themers where the only vowels are Es!!!) and gives it focus and specificity (all the answers are people, i.e. LIVES). Approved.

13 minutes! Unh! In your face ... time!

Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

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