Religious recluse / TUE 11-21-17 / Hook's henchman / Wife in Oaxaca / Rare grandfather clock numeral

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Constructor: Brian Thomas

Relative difficulty: Medium


THEME: some kind of car race in eastern Europe? — theme clues are fill-in-the-blank quotes from an imagined car race commentator (?); the answers are all puns on ... ugh, looks like both adjectives related to countries in (roughly) eastern Europe and nouns describing inhabitants of those countries...

Theme answers:
  • 19A: "The race has just begun, and it looks like the car from Warsaw will POLE INTO FIRST!" (this pun made Super-awkward by the fact that "pole" is, in fact, a racing term—and one related specifically to the *start* of a race (i.e. pole position))
  • 30A: "Listen! You can hear the thundering roar as the car from Moscow goes RUSSIAN PAST!" (oh yeah, race commentators say stuff like this *all* the time ...)
  • 39A: "We're getting close to the end as the car from Helsinki leads the way to the FINNISH LINE!"
  • 52: "Wow! The car from Prague ekes out the victory by a nose and takes the CZECHERED FLAG!") 
Word of the Day: EREMITE (22A: Religious recluse) —
noun
noun: eremite; plural noun: eremites
  1. a Christian hermit or recluse. (google)
• • •

This is brutal. This is a cry for help. This is a regression to times of yore when weak-ass awkward cornball pun puzzles were all the rage. LETT MY PEOPLE GO! The theme is an outright disaster. Why am I listening to a race announcer? Why is this race in eastern Europe? Why are the puns so bad? Why aren't the punning words *&$^%ing consistent in terms of being the same parts of speech?! A POLE is an inhabitant of Poland. The adjective is "Polish." A "Finn" is an inhabitant of Finland. The adjective is "FINNISH"? Your puns are all inhabitants or all adjectives—they are not *&$^ing mix-and-match. I can't believe I'm actually trying to fix this dismal excuse for a theme, but lord in heaven if you're going to commit atrocities, at least show some respect for your craft.


Then of course there was the fill, which just took this from a Tuezday (your typical trainwreck of a Tuesday theme) to a Sooper Tuezday. Once I hit EREMITE crossing IIII (!!!!), I knew I was in for whatever the opposite of "a treat" is. MONTE on its own is dumb (5D: Hustler's game). A [Wound on a dueler] is a SCAR or SCAB—STAB is an action, or should be, esp. on a Tuesday. I think of a single person as a RASTAFARI*AN*, not a RASTAFARI (which is the movement / religion itself) (10D: Person with dreads). Actually, looking over the fill now, it's not so much terrible as it is choked with overfamiliar stuff (SMEE, AVAST, SLOMO, ADIN, OMEN, ESAY, IMAC, etc). But seriously, this puzzle should've been rejected. It doesn't feel sound enough to fly in one of the lesser dailies, let alone the daily with the self-described "Best Puzzle in the World." Why not reject with advice on improvement? Why not wait til the puzzle comes back to you in acceptable shape? Sigh. FLIPFLOP (37D: Switch positions) and SCRUNCHIE (32D: Ponytail holder) are fine answers and don't deserve to be associated with this mess. Good day.



Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

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Three-syllable foot as in bada bing / MON 11-20-17 / Nickname of Gen Burgoyne in American Revolution / Coiner of phrase alternative facts / Indian character on Big Bang Theory / Henry British officer who invented exploding shell

Monday, November 20, 2017

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Challenging (like, off-the-charts, not-even-close-to-normal-Monday Challenging)


THEME: ALLITERATION (18D: What 17-, 33-, 47- and 66-Across exhibit, despite appearances to the contrary) — two-word phrases that alliterate despite starting with different letters:

Theme answers:
  • GENTLEMAN JOHNNY (17A: Nickname of Gen. Burgoyne in the American Revolution)
  • PHOTO FINISH (33A: End of a close race)
  • CAESAR SALAD (47A: Dish made with romaine lettuce, croutons and Parmesan cheese)
  • KELLYANNE CONWAY (66A: Coiner of the phrase "alternative facts") 
Word of the Day: GENTLEMAN JOHNNY (John Burgoyne, 17-Across) —
General John Burgoyne (24 February 1722 – 4 August 1792) was a British army officer, politician and dramatist. He first saw action during the Seven Years' War when he participated in several battles, most notably during the Portugal Campaign of 1762.
John Burgoyne is best known for his role in the American Revolutionary War. He designed an invasion scheme and was appointed to command a force moving south from Canada to split away New England and end the rebellion. Burgoyne advanced from Canada but his slow movement allowed the Americans to concentrate their forces. Instead of coming to his aid according to the overall plan, the British Army in New York City moved south to capture Philadelphia. Surrounded, Burgoyne fought two small battles near Saratoga to break out. Trapped by superior American forces, with no relief in sight, Burgoyne surrendered his entire army of 6,200 men on 17 October 1777. His surrender, says historian Edmund Morgan, "was a great turning point of the war, because it won for Americans the foreign assistance which was the last element needed for victory". He and his officers returned to England; the enlisted men became prisoners of war. Burgoyne came under sharp criticism when he returned to London, and never held another active command.
Burgoyne was also an accomplished playwright known for his works such as The Maid of the Oaks and The Heiress, but his plays never reached the fame of his military career. He served as a member of the House of Commons for a number of years, sitting for the seats of Midhurst and Preston. (wikipedia)
• • •

Good editing is the difference between a great experience and an annoying one. So ... how did this puzzle get slotted on Monday? It's absurd. It's at least a Tuesday, possibly a Wednesday. Like, it's not close to Monday. I was over a minute slower than my average Monday time. Since I finish a typical Monday in roughly 2:50, you can see how one minute in this case is a ****ing chasm. Yes, the puzzle is oversized, which accounts for some of the extra time, but dear lord, come on. GENTLEMAN JOHNNY!? What the hell was that? (A: not a Monday theme answer). And your 1-Across is a. 7 letters (?) and b. a highly specialized poetic term? (ANAPEST) I'm cool with all of this, but, you know, Later In The Week. This theme is far too dense and intricate (a revealer intersecting every themer!), and has too many odd words and obscurities, to be a Monday. Dude's been editing for decades and couldn't see this? Mind-blowing. The puzzle is actually well made. But not a Monday not a Monday not even close to a Monday. GENTLEMAN JOHNNY, dear lord...


And even familiar stuff like SHRAPNEL had a nightmarish non-Monday clue (16D: Henry ___, British Army officer who invented the exploding shell). I wasn't even a minute into the puzzle and already—some Revolutionary general I'd never heard of and then a British Army officer? Oof. Mix up the frame of reference a little, please. What the **** is TETCHY? (52A: Irritable). Man that was rough. I think I've seen the word before, but I don't know anyone who uses it ever in any context ever. Wanted HIVES for HONEY (57D: Bees' production). IONA for IONE (I know better than that, dang it!) (64A: Actress Skye). I forgot the horrid lying racist sexual assailant president-enabling (did I leave anything out?) person's name, so that also slowed me down. Experienced the predictable NOVAS v. NOVAE hesitation (29D: Suddenly bright stars). Cute theme, good puzzle—but fatally misplaced on a Monday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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