Title princess of comic opera / SAT 8-27-16 / Monogram for Christ / Yasmina two-time Tony winning playwright / Political pundit Perino / Postcard printing process for short / Biblical name meaning exalted father / Set of seven countries informally / Way down in Wayne Manor /

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Constructor: Jim Page

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: none 


Word of the Day: IHS (58A: Monogram for Christ) —
In the Latin-speaking Christianity of medieval Western Europe (and so among Catholics and many Protestants today), the most common Christogram became "IHS" or "IHC", denoting the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, IHΣΟΥΣ, iota-eta-sigma, or ΙΗΣ. (wikipedia)
• • •

Piece O. Cake, that is. My 1-Across Theory of Solving Difficulty continues to pan out, as today's 1A: Where to belt one down and belt one out (KARAOKE BAR) was completely transparent, and I ended up with a time in the low 6s. Saturday average is more in the 8-10 range. Today's puzzle made me miss yesterday's puzzle. I think this one has the slight edge as far as interesting quadrants (I liked the stacks in one quadrant yesterday, I like them in two today (NE, SE)), but the fill is kind of yucky. Like, the yuck is real yuck. Not just the sad, common yuck, but the "ew, no" kind of yuck. KETT yuck. REUNE yuck. SHEB yuck. Triple &%$^ing suffix yuck (-OIS *and* -EAN **and** -ATOR!? That is completely terrible. Massive deduction). Long Acrosses toward the center give this one some added sparkle. But, come on, ESCS are not "keys"; there is an ESC key on my keyboard. One. Singular. It is not pluralizable. See also ALTS and CTRLS and FNS. All the fun answers in the world won't matter if you're using some off-brand pseudo-Elmer's to hold it all together. Way too much junk short fill. Poor craftsmanship. Back to drawing board.


I had a couple moments of struggle, first in trying to get into the NE. No idea on IDA (22D: Title princess of a comic opera), so couldn't swing Acrosses into that quadrant. Had the bottom Acrosses, but it's really really hard to solve long answers from the back end (or can be ... statistically harder than solving them with same amount of information on the front end), so I stalled a bit. But NOV gave me OZONE HOLE, and then I slowly clawed my way into and out of that section. ATOR! [Most of the way through the alphabet?] Ugh. Also had issues with IHS / SQMI. And then I found the long Down clues in the SW all pretty hard. But the Acrosses weren't (I've actually listened to Brian ENO's "The Ship," so that was a surprise ENO-gimme). Done, ho-hum, moving on.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

Read more...

Multimedia think piece / FRI 8-26-16 / City with world's largest clock face / Statue outside Boston's TD garden / Only highest-grossing film of year that lost money

Friday, August 26, 2016

Constructor: Andrew Kingsley

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: none 


Word of the Day: DROP CAP (40D: Large letter in a manuscript) —
In desktop publishing, the first letter of a paragraph that is enlarged to "drop" down two or more lines, as in the next paragraph. Drop caps are often seen at the beginning of novels, where the top of the first letter of the first word lines up with the top of the first sentence and drops down to the four or fifth sentence. (webopedia)
• • •

Just solved this, on Friday morning, after a long sleep after a two-drink meal after my first day of classes, so I was a little ... sluggish. Groggy. Foggy. Boggy. I adjusted the difficulty level accordingly (i.e. this was more in the Medium-Challenging range, solving time-wise). You know that thing I have said a lot about 1-Across gimmes and how they are predictive of the overall easiness of the puzzle? Yeah, well, the opposite is apparently true, too. I had no idea about 1A: Social app with the slogan "the world's catalog of ideas" (PINTEREST), and so after about a minute in the NW, I had (fittingly) nothing but ERR. I know very well what PINTEREST is, but I would never ever have called it a "social app" (largely because my experience of it has only been on my laptop) and I had no idea that site was associated with "ideas" (?!). "The world's catalog of ideas??" Not the world's catalog of gluten-free brownie recipes and babies wearing cute knit caps? "Ideas" makes it sound pretty high-falutin'. Anyway, crash and burn there. Steph Curry got me going, finally, in the NE (MVP), and things flowed from there, however unspeedily. I think starting in the NE is really bad way to proceed: you're basically solving the grid right-to-left, i.e. backwards., i.e. entering all the Acrosses from the back (!). If you're continually front-of-the-word-blind, you aren't going to make great time. Consider: it took me until the very last cross to get BE THERE! When you come at it backwards, GET HERE! seems a very distinct possibility.



There were good parts and not-so-good parts to this puzzle. CLOSE VOTE (12D: Feature of the 1876 or 2000 presidential election) feels very much like Green Paint, and EX-GOV feels even greener (56A: Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, informally) (and both of them involve Bush ... weird). Nobody says ENOUNCE or PAH, LOD is a real place but not really a place you wanna go with your grid, and EARED ... just makes me laugh (11D: Like some seals). I get that there are seals without ears, but EARED is about as ridiculous-looking as NOSED without an adjective-hyphen in front of it. None of the stacks really gleamed. ANTI-TOXIN and TEEN ANGST are a very nice pair, but the rest are ho-hum. I did love some of the cluing, esp. on MOAT (54D: It's water under the bridge) and ATTACK ADS (61A: Spots that might smear). I also loved the clue on "CLEOPATRA" (58A: Only highest-grossing film of the year that lost money), a legendary over-budget and mediocre-to-bad film. Also, coincidentally, the first drink I ordered last night was called an "Elizabeth Taylor"—probably for the color more than anything, although it also smelled good (I'm imagining Elizabeth Taylor did too):

[Shout-out to Lost Dog Cafe]

Most confusing clue was 42A: Bit of bronze (TIN). I get that bronze is an alloy made of TIN and other metals, but "bit" implies something discrete and countable. Also, confronted with [Bit of bronze] and T-N ... well, TAN seemed like a perfectly good answer.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

Read more...

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP