Internet meme of star of Matrix looking sullen / FRI 8-18-17 / Birthplace of philosopher Parmenides / Fragrant prom present / So effective you can skip day sloganeer once / Frequent designation for Elizabeth Taylor / Jazz/samba fusion poularized in 1960s / Level connectors in Donkey Kong / Toy consisting of spool on string

Friday, August 18, 2017

Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: none 

Word of the Day: TAMARA Taylor (46D: Actress Taylor of "Bones") —
Tamara Taylor (born September 27, 1970) is a Canadian actress. Her most notable role is that of Dr. Camille Saroyan, head of the Forensic Division, in the forensic crime drama Bones. [...] Taylor has made guest appearances on NCIS, Numb3rs, Lost, CSI: Miami, Without a Trace, Party of Five and Dawson's Creek. In her feature film debut, Senseless, she played Marlon Wayan's love interest. She portrayed Debrah Simmons in the 2005 romantic-comedy Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Halle Berry's best friend in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and had a brief role in Serenity, the movie conclusion of the TV series Firefly by Joss Whedon. Through her part in Serenity, Taylor was able to audition for a show with actor David Boreanaz, who had previously worked with Whedon in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. She also appeared in the TV series Lost, as the former girlfriend of Michael and mother of Walt.(wikipedia)
• • •

A very pleasant experience. I have learned a lot about coffee from my local roasters, so the major coffee-producing islands are well known to me (they're mostly Indonesian, though coffee's grown all over the tropics from the Caribbean to Madagascar). First thought: JAVA. Obviously, far too short. Second thought: SUMATRA. You tend to find SUMATRA coffees as dark roasts. Anyway, having some sense of coffee terroir put the 1-Across Rule into effect. Maybe it's not a "rule." I just like the snappiness of the phrase "1-Across Rule." I finished well under 6, and while that's nowhere near a record, it is faster-than-normal for me. I didn't necessarily Love the fill in this one, but I definitely Liked it, and the wide-ranging frame of reference (from Donkey Kong to "Hamilton" to SAD KEANU) kept me entertained.


People are telling me the E and NE were the trouble spots. I can see how LADED (not my favorite word), with its ambiguous-verb-tense clue, might've thrown folks (it threw at least one of my friends). And the NE is slightly tough in that you have to remember a deodorant sloganeer (8A: "So effective you can skip a day" sloganeer, once). I don't know how anyone can have MITCHUM in their grid and not link it in some way to Robert. Seems like a huge waste. But the real trouble spot *for me* was the SW, where THE over THE seemed so improbable that I couldn't commit to it. Also, YINYANG took me a while to accept. To be clear, I do now accept it, but it's odd as a single unit clued 63A: Joined forces?. Also, 59D: Often-misused irregular verb (LAY) could easily have been LIE (since the very existence of LIE is the reason LAY is so "often misused." And ITTY is baloney since it's obviously ITSY (and both are baloney, tbh, without BITTY / BITSY). Proper noun arcana like "RIO RITA" wasn't that welcome (17A: 1942 Abbott and Costello musical comedy), and proper noun ??? like TAMARA was tough (for me), but even when I got stuck, there was always an amusing answer right around the corner to pick me back up and get me going again. Good fun.


Next three days I will be blogging from NYC, where I'm attending Lollapuzzoola 10, NYC's best (and now only) crossword tournament, on Saturday. Expect brief and weird write-ups until things return to normal on Tuesday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

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Arabian stimulant / THU 8-17-17 / Faction in China's cultural revolution / Golfer Walter with 11 major championships / Tibia connectors / Mesh for securing items in truck bed / Range located along 60th meridian

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium



THEME: GANG OF FOUR (62A: Faction in China's Cultural Revolution ... or a hint to each set of circled letters) — Clues are just [First (then Second and Third) set of circled letters]. Block of four circled letters intersect each answer, and the answer ends up being a clue to which the circled letters are the answer *if* you supply FOUR at the beginning. So:

Theme answers:
  • GOOD RATING (circled letters are S-T-A-R => FOUR-STAR
  • MOTOWN SINGERS (circled letters are T-O-P-S => FOUR TOPS
  • GLASSES WEARER (circled letters are E-Y-E-S => FOUR EYES)
Word of the Day: Walter HAGEN (5D: Golfer Walter with 11 major championships) —
Walter Charles Hagen (December 21, 1892 – October 6, 1969) was an American professional golfer and a major figure in golf in the first half of the 20th century. His tally of 11 professional majors is third behind Jack Nicklaus (18) and Tiger Woods (14). // Hagen won the U.S. Open twice, and in 1922 he became the first native-born American to win the British Open, and won the Claret Jug three more times. He also won the PGA Championship a record-tying five times (all in match play), and the Western Open five times when it had near-major championship status. Hagen totaled 45 PGA wins in his career, and was a six-time Ryder Cup captain. The Masters Tournament, the newest major, was established in 1934, after his prime. (wikipedia)
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The circled squares ... OK, so the words are both FOUR letters long and the word FOUR precedes them to make a correct answer to each themer. That bit is neat. But there's not much else that's neat. First, it's a answers-as-clues puzzle, and I just dislike those reflexively. GLASSES WEARER? I'm supposed to be glad *that's* in my grid? Also, four letters huddled together like that in an unremarkable square formation hardly connotes GANG. FOURSQUARE is an app ... and it fits in the same space as GANG OF FOUR. Seems more ap(p)t. (I'm being told it's not much of a thing anymore, so you'd have to clue FOURSQUARE as the game, which I played quite a bit in elementary school) (Ooh, you know what I also played a lot in elementary school: CONNECT FOUR! There's a revealer for you, though you'd have to change first themer to GREAT RATING, for symmetry's sake). Further, there are only *three* examples of the theme, and that is really scratching a chalkboard in my mind. Do four of them or go home. Oh, and another thing, a GLASSES WEARER is "FOUR EYES" only if you are an asshole kid from the '60s. It's a stupid low-key slur. Oh, and last of all, when you have GANG OF FOUR in your grid, at least give it the cool clue that it deserves:


Fill was forgettable except maybe CARGO NET (38D: Mesh for securing items in a truck bed). Still not sure how QUIZ SHOW is a [Quest for knowledge?]. Presumably you already have the knowledge and are showing it off for fun and profit. DYE LOTS is an incredibly boring technical answer, and one that creates an unfortunate dye mini-theme (with crosswordesey AZO20A: Like some synthetic colorants). Are we just calling Ireland "ERIN" now like it's a normal, non-poetic thing? (17A: One side of St. George's Channel). Did you know "Nobelist" anagrams to NIELS-bot? (25D: Nobelist Bohr). Well now you do. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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