Sarcastic comment about task ahead / MON 4-20-15 / Tribe traditionally living around Lake Superior / Chivalrous rule obeyed in this puzzle / Mr. Jock TV quiz bags few lynx classic pangram / Lord of Rings baddie

Monday, April 20, 2015

Constructor: Tom McCoy

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (**for a Monday**) (Time: 3:08)


THEME: LADIES FIRST (59A: Chivalrous rule obeyed in this puzzle) — familiar male/female pairs have their order reversed in keeping with the "Chivalrous rule" in question:

Theme answers:
  • JANE AND DICK (17A: Classic learning-to-read series (hint: 59-Across))
  • MARY AND WILLIAM (23A: Virginia university (hint: 59-Across))
  • GRETEL AND HANSEL (37A: Grimm fairy tale unit (hint: 59-Across))
  • JULIET AND ROMEO (52A: Shakespeare play (hint: 59-Across))
Word of the Day: GAH (57A: Cry of frustration) —
exclamation
  1. used to express exasperation or dismay. 
    "had to go the dentist this morning (arrived late—gah!)" (google)
• • •

See, I use "GAH!" all the time, but would never have thought it crossworthy! But here we are. It's a new day. A new era. It's morning in America. Again. But better this time. Because GAH!



"Chivalrous" has taken on a weird meaning in modern parlance. "Chivalry" was a code of conduct for medieval knights, as well as knight wannabes and knight cosplayers and others fantasizing nostalgically about a time that probably never was and certainly wasn't as genteel as Victorian chivalry enthusiasts imagined it to be. But even that phony Victorian version of "chivalry" doesn't quite get us to men holding doors open for women. Medieval knights would not have held doors open for ladies and said "LADIES FIRST," mostly because no doors*, but also because chivalry tended to be concerned with bigger, broader, more fundamental issues, like Not Raping Women. That was a biggie. Seriously. They codified that *&%^. Well, Arthur did, at any rate. They had to Write It Down (or at least proclaim it) because it was very much not a given.  Holding doors (or its equivalent) would not have rated mention. And yet somehow these little faux-deferential gestures that keep gender hierarchy firmly in place have come to define with we call, mostly ironically now, "chivalrous." This is all to say that the revealer clue is perfectly appropriate for our modern, fallen, big dumb world that's bad at history and feminism. Here's the main thing about old-school chivalry—you didn't get to do it. And by you, I mean yeah you. It's a class thing. So expecting Bob from Accounting to be "chivalrous" at Applebee's is perhaps not fair. It's certainly anachronistic.

["Those that don't know how to be pros get evicted!"]

The revealer is the thing in this puzzle. It's everything. It's the punchline and the raison d' … raison d' … seriously, no ETRE today? The one day I need ETRE, and no ETRE? Fine. Lower-case "d'ĂȘtre." It's a nice, easy, entry-level puzzle that makes up for a certain straightforwardness in the theme with some pretty bouncy and daring moments in the fill. The most noteworthy patch in the grid, for me, was the GAH / "OH, FUN!" meeting place. Frustration *and* sarcasm. I know these things! How are you, old friends? I soooo didn't expect to see you here today, especially not holding hands like this. What a pleasant surprise. That "H" in the GAH / "OH, FUN" crossing was my last letter, mostly because I couldn't believe either was real. "Really?" I probably quickly asked myself. And yes: Really. [Actually my main issue down there was SNAP ON. Apparently I don't SNAP anything ON. Now STRAP ON, sure, we've all been there. But SNAP ON … not in my repertoire (of whatever it is we're talking about)].


This puzzle has 14s. Two of them. You so rarely see 14s. So that was refreshing, if probably utterly unnoticed by 98% of solvers.

Bullets:
  • 12D: Tall Paul (BUNYAN) — completely blanked on how to spell the second half of the name. "Canyon" was like "Spell it like me!" Stupid "canyon."
  • 35A: Bundle up (WRAP) — I had -AP and wrote in REAP. Something about sheaves, I think.
  • 28D: Boise's state (IDAHO) — fun fact: half my family is from IDAHO—grandma still lives there—and I've been to the state many times. Yet I've never been to Boise. We're a panhandle people. There was that one summer we were Sun Valley people. But mostly panhandle.

Lesser: A DUE, AWS, SNO
Greater: SCALY, "OH, FUN!", OJIBWA

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*Of course doors existed. But they were not so common an architectural feature in the Middle Ages, particularly of home interiors, as they are now.

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Bit of exercise in Britain / SUN 4-19-15 / Rebellion event of 1676 / Candle in wind dedicatee / Aid to Zen meditation / Atari 7800 competitor briefly / Bass role in Gilbert & Sullivan opera / Asian stew often eaten with dipping sauce / Gershwin portrayer in Rhapsody in Blue / Largest coastal city between San Francisco Portland

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Constructor: Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging



THEME: "Double Down" — in Acrosses, two consecutive letters are rebused into one box; Downs that cross those rebused boxes have to be read twice to make sense—first with the first Across letter in place, and then with the second, e.g. "Y" and "L" are in the final box of 5D: One way to complete an online purchase because the answer is PAY PAL (i.e. first word takes the Y, second word takes the L)

Theme answers:
  • DIRTYLINEN / PAYPAL
  • HEARTWARMING / NOT NOW
  • GOODNATURED / MAD MAN
  • FINALNOTICE / KAL KAN
  • LAUNCHPARTY / HOT POT
  • EVENINGSTAR / GET SET
  • STATIONWAGON / NITWIT
  • PAPERTRAIL / RAGTAG
Word of the Day: TANTARA (93D: Bit of fanfare) —
n.
1.
a. trumpet or horn fanfare.
b. sound resembling such a fanfare.
2. hunting cry. (thefreedictionary.com)
• • •

Harder than usual, but not more pleasurable than usual. Actually, about as pleasurable as usual—it's just that "usual" these days is not what it once was, sadly. At least I had to fight this one a little. Cluing was tough all over, and I found myself stuck, at least briefly, much more often than normal. Very tough to me to get my head around the theme at first because there is an "L" right above the "INEN" in DIRT[YL]INEN, and I thought somehow that "L" came "Down" … and was also somehow supplying the "L" from PAY PAL (!?). Seriously, the "L" in EATS ALONE threw me quite badly for a decent amount of time. I was mystified. Wasn't til much later (maybe KAL KAN) that I "got" it. I had MAD at 46D: Lunatic and that seemed just fine to me. Never occurred to me it was MAD MAN. Actually, now that I think on it, it must've been HOT POT / LAUNC[HP]ARTY that got me on the right track.  This brings me to the one thematic element that I like, or at least admire—all of the "double" squares happen precisely at the break between two words in a two-word phrase (or compound word). This is what I mean when I applaud "consistency"—not doing things in predictable ways that have been done before, but in setting the bar high / making the requirements stringent, and still pulling it off. Makes the puzzle more elegant and professional. Shows craft.


Still, I didn't exactly enjoy this. I've seen the basic conceit before (though perhaps it's applied slightly differently here), and solving ended up being more slog than revelation. I know I'm repeating myself here, but the fill remains substandard in too many places. The whole TITI BAABAA TANTARA ASWE ESSA section—everything in and around ESSA, actually—is really hard to look at directly. To say nothing of your EGERs and ITORs and EAPOEs (yipes) and et cetera. Wish more craft had been put into the non-theme stuff. But why should constructors care about that if the editor doesn't? I mean that. RESEED RESAND recycle. Longer stuff is pretty nice, but longer stuff often is. Weirdest moment in the solve was somehow remembering QOM and using that "Q" to get the QUOTA in IMPORT QUOTA (that answer was gonna be IMPORT [blank] forever…). Only I spelled it QOM, because … that is an acceptable spelling of that place (it's how it's spelled in wikipedia). Thankfully, RONNING A TAB is manifestly not a thing.


My friend Patrick Blindauer just informed me that the WSJ has a cryptic crossword this week! By Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon! And it's supposed to be Great. So I'm gonna go do that now. If you'd like to do the same, Here You Go (.pdf).

Gonna go watch some more NBAERs play now even though no one calls them that. Go Warriors.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]

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