Muslim magistrate / FRI 9-4-15 / Important Peruvian crop / Green Hornet trumpeter / Major in 1973 David Bowie hit / Once-popular alcopop

Friday, September 4, 2015

Constructor: David C. Duncan Dekker

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none — I don't thing those 3 Qs on a diagonal count...

Word of the Day: QUIFF (28A: Man's do with upswept hair in the front) —
Chiefly British
A tuft of hair, especially a forelock.
Origin of quiff
Origin unknown.
A woman regarded as promiscuous.
Origin of quiff
Origin unknown.(Amer. Heritage Dict.)
• • •

I'd say AVERAGE is about right. There are lots of X J Q-type letters, but they aren't doing much of anything interesting. That Q-run is mildly cool, and I kind of like how KAMIKAZE komes krashing down there in the NE. "WHY YES!" gives the grid a little life down below. But three out of the four corners (all except the NE) are pretty dull. They are adequate. They are reasonably clean. They exist. Don't tend to love when grids have sections, like the NW and SE, that are sooooo cut off from the rest of the grid. Those sections end up playing like mini-puzzles, which would be OK if there were some inherent interest. But those sections aren't that lively. The real danger with such isolated sections is that they can kill you in a truly difficult puzzle—nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. But today's cut-off corners weren't that tough. Did take some effort to get at the NW, but that was offset by how easy the SE was—that corner couldn't have taken me more than 30 seconds.

I had a couple of miscues. First when I put in QUAKES at 24A: Trembles. Took one look at 8D: Muslim magistrate, realized it couldn't end in -RKF (what could?), and took out QUAKES. Guessed SHARIF and then put in QUAILS. Then moved down the grid a bit and put in QUAKES where it belonged (28D: Country rockers?) (that's a decent "?" clue for QUAKES). I also had a mistake at 35D: Slight sights. Turns out there are (at least) two answers that can fit in there *and* that start GLIM-

I went with GLIMMERS. It was actually the first thing I dropped into that section. The above-pictured grid captures the moment just after I realized my mistake. The ATP (48A: Court sport org.) is the Association of Tennis Professionals, btw. Lastly, just one quibble with the clue on ZIMA (38D: Once-popular alcopop). I think they meant "Once-available" or "once-marketed," 'cause ZIMA was never "popular." (Except, it seems, for a hot second in 1994 when Coors threw a ton of marketing money at it). Popular drinks, uh, survive. To be fair, though, ZIMA did hang in there for an awfully long time. According to Modern Drunkard Magazine: "Despite almost universal derision by the public in general and the drinking press in particular (see Real Drunks Don’t Drink Zima MDM Nov. ‘96), Zima managed to gimp along for an astonishing 15 years." Did you know Miller's answer to ZIMA was QUBE!? How did I miss that? Why is QUBE never in puzzles? I'm so disappointed in all crossword constructors right now. (Actually, I'm not–I can't even find a picture of QUBE on the whole of the Internet, which maybe says something about QUBE's crossword viability. But it turns out there are a bunch of other products out there trying to make QUBE happen, so there's always hope).

MASON JARs, on the other hand—MASON JARs are popular. Chances are you have had an (actual, non-ZIMA-related) alcoholic beverage in one in recent years. A touch of folksiness for hip urban faux-back-to-the-landers. Artisanal free-range MASON JARs for all!

Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Bumpers of Arkansas / THU 9-3-15 / Title villain for Star Trek film / Lt commander of 60s tv / Sicilian's millions / America's only bachelor president

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Constructor: Merl Reagle (1950-2015)

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "The Gods Must be Crazy" — a puzzle from the 1999 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?) American Crossword Puzzle Tournament where ordinary words are imagined as Greek gods through the magic of REPRONUNCIATION (39A: Key to understanding the theme of this puzzle)

Theme answers:
  • MANACLES (14A: Greek god of bondage?)
  • ERUDITE (15A: Greek goddess of learning?)
  • TELEPHONE (16A: Greek goddess of communication?)
  • GAMETES (27A: Greek god of fertility?)
  • ENVELOPE (31A: Greek goddess of messages?) (hardest laugh—my wife's name is "Penelope")
  • ANTIBIAS (48A: Greek god of equal opportunity?)
  • AMPERES (53A: Greek god of electricity?)
  • FOLLICLES (64A: Greek god of healthy hair?)
  • SPAREUS (67A: Greek god of mercy?)
  • LIMEADES(69A: Greek god of tangy drinks?) 
Word of the Day: COURT TV (1D: Cable channel that broadcasts trials) —
truTV is an American cable and satellite television channel that is owned by the Turner Broadcasting System division of Time Warner. // The network was originally founded as Court TV, a network that focused on crime-themed programs, such as documentary series, legal dramas, and coverage of prominent criminal cases. With its 2008 re-launch as TruTV, the network revamped its lineup with a focus on reality shows and "caught on camera" programs, which the network marketed as "actuality" television. In October 2014, the TruTV's lineup was re-oriented with a focus on comedy-based reality programs. As of February 2015, approximately 89.7 million American households (77% of households with television) receive truTV. (wikipedia)
• • •

I've written about Merl. I've done interviews about Merl. I've said all I can say at this point. I'm just going to let this puzzle sit here and speak for itself.

On second thought, just a few things.

1. This puzzle is 16 years old
2. This puzzle has enough theme answers to field a football team
3. I legitimately laughed, over and over

Recognize greatness.

Or don't.

Your call.

See you tomorrow.

[1992. Close.]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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