Old-fashioned wine holder / MON 3-27-17 / What Google's Ngram program tracks for word usage / Labourite's opponent in British politics / Group of books that educated person is supposed to be familiar with
Monday, March 27, 2017
Constructor: Tom McCoy
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (slowish for Monday, though maybe that's 'cause the grid is extra-wide today)
- ALL'S I KNOW... (18A: "The one thing that's clear to me ...")
- A LONG WAYS OFF (24A: Distant)
- AND THEN I SAYS ... (52A: Narrative conncector) [that is One Hell of a vague clue]
- HOW'S ABOUT ...? (65A: "What do you think of ...?")
nounnoun: troika; plural noun: troikas
- 1.a Russian vehicle pulled by a team of three horses abreast.
- a team of three horses for a troika.
- 2.a group of three people working together, especially in an administrative or managerial capacity. (google)
S TAKE-OUT is better as a noun—something a grammarian would like to perform on the relevant theme entries. Clued as a verb phrase, it's nonsense. Further, A LONG WAYS OFF seems like an outlier here in at least a couple way(s). It's the only truly stand-alone phrase, all the other being sentence lead-ins. It's the only one that is not definitively colloquial, i.e. a commonly if not exclusively *spoken* formulation. It's also the least grammar-violating, ALL'S and HOW'S being grammatically nonsensical, and I SAYS being a matter of overt subj/verb disagreement. Changing WAY to WAYS (or vice versa) just doesn't seem in the same universe as the other grammarian-offending phrases.
The non-theme stuff, on the other hand, is quite nice, with six Downs of 7+ letters in length giving the grid a lot more character than you typically see on a Monday. Plus, there's very little in the way of junk. This has all been nicely polished, with only AAHED and maybe GLO getting me even the slightest bit RILEd. I love the words FLAGON (27D: Old-fashioned wine holder) and TROIKA, for purely aesthetic reasons.
Congrats to Dan Feyer, who won his 7th American Crossword Puzzle Tournament championship yesterday, beating out fellow killer-solvers Tyler Hinman and Joon Pahk. I HOPE to see you tomorrow. Au revoir.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS NOT SO'S YOU'D NOTICE woulda made a nice central 15 in a normal-sized grid ... maybe change the revealer to SLOP and shove it in a corner ... I'm just spitballin' here ...
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