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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Constructor: Joe Kidd

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: You tell me ... looks like "EL" (or "ELS") is added to familiar phrases to get wacky phrases, clued wackily ... but can that be it? I feel like I must be missing something... 

Theme answers:
  • SECURITY CAMELS (19A: Dromedaries on patrol?)
  • CHICKEN BROTHELS (36A: Henhouses of ill repute?)
  • MARRIAGE VOWELS (49A: The "I" and "o" of "I do"?) 
Word of the Day: CALE Yarborough (41A: Nascar's Yarborough) —
William Caleb "Cale" Yarborough (born March 27, 1939), is an American farmer, businessman and former NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver and owner. He is one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships. He was the second NASCAR driver to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated (the first was Curtis Turner on the February 26, 1968 issue. His 83 wins tie him with Jimmie Johnson for sixth on the all-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner's list (behind Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, who are tied for fourth with 84). His 14.82% winning percentage is the ninth best all-time and third among those with 500 or more start. Yarborough won the Daytona 500 four times; his first win coming in 1968 for the Wood Brothers, the second in 1977 for Junior Johnson, and back-to-back wins in 1983 and 1984. In 1984, he became the first driver to qualify for the Daytona 500 with a top speed of more than 200 miles per hour (320 km/h). Yarborough is a three-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Driver of the Year Award (1977, 1978, 1979). (wikipedia)
• • •

What am I supposed to do with this? What is anyone supposed to do with this? Someone professing himself a "professor emeritus" wrote me some hate mail today, haranguing me for being so negative blah blah blah. I've been getting that criticism forever, so mostly I ignore it, but to get that letter earlier today and then to be confronted with *this* puzzle at 10pm ... I dunno. It's like the universe is trolling me. Even if I wanted to be some kind of Nice-Thing-Saying person, some kind of Fount of Positivity, I would be stymied by this puzzle. It's baffling. I've seen add-a-letter puzzles, and drop-a-letter puzzles (they're among the oldest theme types in existence), but I can't remember seeing multiple letters added this arbitrarily. Why is there no revealer? What is the point of this three-themer clunker? Elevated trains? I went looking for Ernie ELS thinking maybe he could explain it all to me, but found only Elena OCHOA. She just shrugged. "Don't ask me. I'm just happy to be here," she said. I have seen many bad puzzles, ill-conceived puzzles, poorly executed puzzles, but I'm hard pressed to remember anything this ... pointless.


Almost broke 3 minutes on this sucker (very Very fast for me, for a Wednesday), but I had some trouble backing my way into that final themer (the clue for which was the most inscrutable of the lot, by far). I don't want to dwell on how olden and stale the fill is (generally), but please survey or resurvey it. ADRIP is the obvious laffer, but even after that, there's so much junk in this grid. It's all ODEA and ARIA and EVEL and CALE and EMAJ etc etc AH ME. My wife rightly asked, "Why did the gardener only buy one SEED?" (40A: Gardener's spring purchase). She also asked, "Where's the revealer?" But we're all asking that. Some of the longer Downs are just fine—and that is the only praise I can give this. How is this the "best puzzle in the world?" How?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

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Windows precursor / TUE 8-22-17 / Undergraduate law deg / Common churchyard confier / Spritual center in yoga / TV blocking device / Red River Valley city in upper midwest / Calypso influenced genre / here are my thoughts online

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: cities that contain their own state codes

Theme answers:
  • OZARK (5A: Southern city just south of a national forest with the same name)
  • ASTORIA (7D: City almost at the end of the Columbia River)
  • TUSCALOOSA (3D: Where the Crimson Tide play)
  • GRAND FORKS (11D: Red River Valley city in the upper Midwest)
  • BLOOMINGTON (25D: State university city in the Midwest)
  • SANTA MONICA (28D: Sunny city with a famous pier)
  • ALBANY (46D: Original eastern terminus of the Erie Canal)
Word of the Day: ASTORIA
Astoria is a port city and the seat of Clatsop County, Oregon, United States. Situated near the mouth of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean, the city was named after John Jacob Astor, an investor from New York City whose American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria at the site in 1811, 206 years ago. Astoria was incorporated by the Oregon Legislative Assembly on October 20, 1876. // It holds the distinction of being the first permanent United States settlement on the Pacific coast and for having the first U.S. post office west of the Rocky Mountains. Located on the south shore of the Columbia River, the city is served by the deepwater Port of Astoria. Transportation includes the Astoria Regional Airport with U.S. Route 30 and U.S. Route 101 as the main highways, and the 4.1-mile (6.6 km) Astoria–Megler Bridge connecting to neighboring Washington across the river. The population was 9,477 at the 2010 census. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is filler. The very definition of filler. Cities that contain their own state codes? You wanna know how hard that is? Here, I'll show you: PORTLAND. That is how hard it is. Want more: WALLA WALLA! CARMEL! I haven't even left the Pacific Time Zone. What is clever about this? What is entertaining about this? Precisely nothing. I finished the puzzle very quickly having no idea what the theme was except "longish city names." Cities have nothing in common except including their own state codes. This may be the most forgettable puzzle ever made. There is nothing in the fill to redeem it either. It's not god-awful. It's just borderline non-existent, and fantastically disappointing (if you expect any bang for your considerable NYT dollar). Does anyone outside Oregon know there's an ASTORIA, OR??? Its Population Is Under 10K!!! And who the hell thinks of OZARK as a "city" anyway? Come on, man.


I can never remember LLB or how it differs from LLD or L... TD? LLC? TLC? LST? I guess "B" is for Bachelors and "D" (in LLD) is for Doctorate? Yeah, that's not gonna help, I guarantee you. The fill is so boring, I don't know what to talk about. ZOOM IN ON is coolish, but its coolness is undermined by existence of yet another longer "IN" answer (SWOOP IN). The only two good answers in the grid, and they're fighting with each other. I slightly like CHAKRA, as a word (43A: Spiritual center, in yoga). Is there a CHAKRA, Alaska? No? Too bad. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

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