Nonhuman singer of 1958 #1 song / THU 10-30-14 / Like liquor in Ogden Nash verse / Focus of Source magazine / Covert maritime org / French woman's name meaning bringer of victory /

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Constructor: David Woolf

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: CHIP — CHIP rebus, in a grid shaped like a poker chip.

Word of the Day: PINEAL (23D: Kind of gland) —
The pineal gland, also known as the pineal bodyconarium or epiphysis cerebri, is a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain. It produces melatonin, a serotonin derived hormone, that affects the modulation of sleep patterns in both seasonal and circadian rhythms. Its shape resembles a tiny pine cone (hence its name), and it is located in the epithalamus, near the centre of the brain, between the two hemispheres, tucked in a groove where the two halves of the thalamus join. (wikipedia)
• • •

I'm all jacked up on baseball. The grid looks like a baseball to me. Baseball.

So it's a chip rebus where the grid looks like a chip, and that's about all I have to say about this puzzle. I mean, it is what it is. Somewhat interesting to look at. Somewhat interesting to solve, in the way that all rebuses are. Or most. Fill has some nails-on-chalkboard moments (EMEERS [ouch] STAC ICEL ONI). I thought ARIZONAN. ARIZONIAN googles better, but then again it is a brand of tire, so … Would've been nice if there were actually a famous VERONIQUE to pin that answer to. Do people still ELOCUTE? Did they ever? My favorite part of the puzzle was finding the "CHIP" in ARCHIPELAGO. That's some nice hiding. Plus I just like that word. SPY CAR feels like a barely real thing. Is anything 007 uses a SPY thing?

Took me a while to see the rebus, and to get started in general. Upper right went first, but once I got to 26D: Nonhuman singer of a 1958 #1 song, where I had -MU-K, I stalled. Restarted in the west with ECOL, then stalled out at 16D: Tribe of the Upper Midwest, where I had -PEW-. You see the pattern here. Once I built up everything *around* the "16" square (including SPY CAR and PIEROGI), the CHIP thing came to me. Puzzle got easier thereafter. Mainly I was glad to get to quite wondering whether QDOBA was a "spice" (29D: Fast-food chain named after a spice => CHIPOTLE).
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. Wait. What? This grid is supposed to look like a CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE!? (56A: Treat represented visually by this puzzle's answer). Well that makes more sense, as it has chips in it, and less sense, as it is easily the ugliest CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE I've ever seen. Are the black squares also chips? Looks more like a throwing star or a mangled jack-o-lantern or a jack-o-lantern that's been disfigured by a throwing star. Seriously, though, black square destroy whatever cookie visual is supposed to be happening here.


    Longtime Prego slogan / WED 10-29-14 / State that borders Bangladesh / Bach composition

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

    Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

    THEME: "IT'S IN THERE" (54A: Longtime Prego slogan … with a hint to the answers to the five starred clues) — "IT'S" is embedded/hidden in five answers

    Theme answers:
    • PIT STOP
    • HIT SONG
    Word of the Day: GINA Lollobrigida (19A: Actress Lollobrigida) —
    Luigina "Gina" Lollobrigida (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒiːna ˌlɔlloˈbriːdʒida]; born 4 July 1927) is an Italian actress, photojournalist and sculptor. She was one of the highest profile European actresses of the 1950s and early 1960s, a period in which she was considered to be a sex symbol.
    As her film career slowed, she established second careers as a photojournalist and sculptor. In the 1970s, she scooped the press by gaining an exclusive interview with Fidel Castro, the revolutionary Communist dictator of Cuba.
    She has continued as an active supporter of Italian and Italian American causes, particularly the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF). In 2008, she received the NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award at the Foundation's Anniversary Gala. In 2013, she sold her jewelry collection, and donated the nearly $5 million from the sale to benefit stem cell therapy research. (wikipedia)
    • • •

    Watching World Series Game 6, so don't have much energy to give the write-up tonight, which is just as well, as this is one of the weaker Liz G offerings I've seen in a while. The core is solid enough. I barely remember that Prego slogan, but it rings a faint bell, and it's made into a fine revealer here. Not sure how hard it is to hid "IT'S," but we get some pretty nice theme answers as a result. Nice central crossing there where PIT STOP meets HIT SONG. But the fill here is crusty and dusty in the extreme. Everywhere I look there's half-century-old crosswordese or trite fill gunking up the works. [Deep breath] OLEO EOS ELI SSE RESOD (!) BIOG (!?) SSNS RET ARIOSO ANTE DONEE EVERTS ULNA ASSNS EGIS (Var.!) AGORA OBI REATAS ASSAM ORAN ORR. I want to say SELA too, but we'll let her and LIU slide. Still, that is nutso-level Avoid-If-At-All-Possible fill. I am struggling to understand this. Liz's "Puzzle Nation" puzzles are always much cleaner than this. I wonder if she has tacitly joined the ranks of independent constructors who keep their best work for themselves and dump lesser stuff on the NYT. That's probably inaccurate—again, I think the core concept here is solidly NYT-worthy. But the fill, man, it hurts. WEIRD. [NOTE: apparently this puzzle was accepted for publication 7 or 8 years ago … I can't even begin to say everything there is to say about how f'd up that is …]

    BONGS and KNEE BENDS! Sounds like fun. But I'm gonna stick with baseball for now. See you tomorrow.

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


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