Pax's Greek counterpart / WED 12-11-13 / Bygone Japanese camera brand / Red light locale / Did some woolgathering / Classic Fender guitar for short
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Constructor: Steve Savoy
Relative difficulty: Challenging
Word of the Day: MUFTI (7D: G.I.'s civvies) —
Mufti, or civies/civvies (slang for "civilian attire"), refers to ordinary clothes, especially when worn by one who normally wears, or has long worn, a military or other uniform. (wikipedia)
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ALBERT / EINSTEIN is placed in this grid, I have to say. To me, that's the puzzle's greatest accomplishment, because that's a Lot of extra theme material to fit into an already pretty theme-crowded grid. ALBERT is wedged between to quote parts, and EINSTEIN crosses two quote parts, and (to top it off) ALBERT and EINSTEIN intersect. Very neatly done.
The fill is mostly average, with a few repulsive bits. DOT EDU should just be banned (5D: End of an academic 29-Across). DOT COM is a thing. A coherent, self-standing theme. All the other DOTs are pretending. HTEN and all "Battleship" answers are decidedly not things and should also be banned. SGTMAJ is a face-plant of an answer (as in, "I planted my face into the keyboard and this was the result"). Not a great look. Then there's THAT I / IT'D / STER / SUER, all answers to which one should, ideally, say NEIN. But for a theme-dense puzzle, this grid does OK. I definitely had an out-of-my-wheelhouse experience with this one. Couldn't come up with MUFTI. Have never ever head "woolgathering" as an expression meaning "dreaming," so DREAMT was … surprising (20A: Did some woolgathering). I struggled all over with this one, ending up with a time very much on the high end for me (not absurdly high, but high). My potatoes were oddly MINCED before they were MASHED (44D: Like the potatoes in shepherd's pie). I hastily and stupidly wrote in PHI for RHO (43D: Plato's P). Had IT'S OKAY instead of IT'S ON ME (33D: "Got it covered!"). YAP (as in "Shut your ___!") for MAW (11A: Big mouth). I learned that MINOLTA is bygone (44A: Bygone Japanese camera brand). Upon running into ALBERT, I briefly (and hopefully) thought the quote author's first name might be FAT. Alas.
Lastly, what is up with the cluing on "IT'S ON ME!" (33D: "Got it covered!"). First, the phrase in the clue feels really contrived without the "I" to start it off. The clue leaves off the subject, but the answer doesn't. Awkward. Why would you leave out the "I"? Second, both the clue and the answer have "IT" in them. You're not supposed to do that. The low-grade editorial sloppiness continues unabated.
Two more things:
1. The Kickstarter for Peter Gordon's newest season of "Fireball Newsweekly Crosswords" (2014) is up. 20 puzzles published throughout the year, all of them built around current events. These are pretty easy, pretty fun, and (by design) very, very contemporary. Like, hot-out-of-the-oven fresh. $5 to get in, which you can do here.
2. My 2013 Holiday Crossword Gift Guide ("Cross Crosswords Off Your Shopping List") is up—I wrote it for Pipe Dream, my University's student newspaper. You can see it here.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld