Sweet Rosie of old song / THU 5-23-19 / Game with maximum score of 3,333,360 / Host Allen of TV's Chopped / Gulager of old TV and film / Fictional schnauzer / Animal feared by Winston in 1984

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Constructor: Alex Vratsanos

Relative difficulty: Easy (5:35)

THEME: Belaboring the point — actually FOURTEEN POINTS (59A: With 61-Across, what President Wilson proposed for a lasting peace ... or what's missing from the starred clues): well there are literally fourteen answers here for which you have to mentally supply "point" as the second word in order for them to make sense:

Theme answers:
  1. PIN
  3. PLOT
  6. BALL
  7. STAND
  8. EXTRA
  9. POWER
  10. GRADE
  12. DATA 
  13. WEST
  14. SET
Word of the Day: Sarah ORNE Jewett (40D: Author Sarah ___ Jewett) —
Sarah Orne Jewett (September 3, 1849 – June 24, 1909) was an American novelistshort storywriter and poet, best known for her local color works set along or near the southern seacoast of Maine. Jewett is recognized as an important practitioner of American literary regionalism.

• • •

This was easy and the theme was incredibly dense, so people will be aglow from personal success and perhaps impressed by the technical achievement. These are wrong and bad feelings and you should throw them out the window because this puzzle was tedious and "theme density" is not not not, in and of itself, a good quality. It is often, as it was today, a punishing quality, as it compromises the quality of the overall fill and, if the theme is relentlessly the Same, just pummels you with its repetitiveness over and over and over. I will say that, given the theme density, the fill could've been much worse. But there I go, making excuses for CLU and ORNE etc. I should not have to do that. You wanna go dense, that grid better hold. Full stop. End of sentence. There are a few nice answers here, like CHEAT DAY (a phrase I despise, personally, but an original phrase nonetheless) and GUT PUNCH, but overall the grid is (again) choppy and the short stuff is (again) stultifying. Once I got the "point" I just went on a "point" scavenger hunt, which, let me tell you, is the saddest scavenger hunt that ever was. Point Point Point Point Point Point Point Point Point Point Point Point Point Point. Uncle! A lot of something is not a good something.

I knew ORNE and CLU and ASTA (sorry for those of you not well versed in the pantheon of crosswordese) but O'GRADY, hoo boy, what? I do not have a clue who this [Sweet Rosie of old song] is. I'm guessing we're talking very, very old song. Wow, yeah, looks like late 19th century. There are barbershop quartet versions. Here's a Bing version.

Gail O'GRADY was great on "NYPD Blue" and is still working. Just FYI. I have no idea what the clue on SWAGS means. Swag curtains? And they're called SWAGS? This "word" has appeared just once in The Entire Time I've Been Blogging (i.e. since Sep. '06). In 2010 it was clued as [Festoons], so clearly even in Crossworld there's no agreement about what the hell this thing means, so let's banish it to wherever it came from for another nine years at least. I thought the GORES might be the DOLES, which share 3/5 of the GORES' letters, so that was odd. I had the "C" and put [Homer's home] down as ITHACA, for reasons (not good ones, but sorta kinda understandable ones). Seth ROGEN appears a number of times in the new Wu Tang Clan documentary on Showtime, which I'm very much enjoying. (WUTANGCLAN has appeared once in the NYTXW, WU-TANG no times; since they are frequently colloquially referred to as just WU-TANG, please add WU-TANG to your word lists and unleash it at will, thanks).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. ASTA was definitely a schnauzer in the book, please stop sending me your misguided outrage, thanks

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Surfboard kayak hybrid / WED 5-22-19 / Religion with apostrophe in its name / Redhead on kids tv / Pioneering computer operating system / Ancient land conquered by Caesar

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:32)

THEME: "one for the money etc." — I guess this is a counting rhyme? I know it only as the opening to "Blue Suede Shoes"; anyway, the theme clues are "One for the money" "Two for the show" "Three to get ready" and "Four to go" (not "Go cat go," sadly):

Theme answers:
  • LEATHER WALLET (19A: One for the money)
  • BROADWAY TICKETS (24A: Two for the show)
  • STOP DROP AND ROLL (43A: Three to get ready)
  • ALL-WHEEL DRIVE (50: Four to go)
Word of the Day: WAVESKI (9D: Surfboard/kayak hybrid) —
  1. Short water craft seating one rider, propelled by a two-ended paddle, designed for surfing waves. (yourdictionary.com) (I wanted to use wikipedia, but the entry was "written like an advertisement")
• • •

This is an "F" right out of the gate. Well, not right out ... but once you get to that third themer, yeah, fail. How did STOP DROP AND ROLL get by the constructor himself, the editor, proofreaders, etc. Already a bunch of solvers are remarking publicly on how it doesn't work. We saw it instantly—how do the people making these things not see it? The *&$^ing complacency of this old boys' network, I swear to *&$^! Hey, fellas, you have confused STOP DROP AND ROLL (which you do after you are already on fire) with DUCK AND COVER, which is what you do "to get ready" for, let's say, a nuclear attack.

So the theme is DOA. There's not much reason to go on about it, but I will say it's not that interesting to begin with, in that it puts all the theme "interest" in the clue, and the answers just end up being pretty tortured examples. The LEATHER in LEATHER WALLET is a million percent arbitrary. And then the grid today, again, is just chop chop choppy, with lots of unfortunate short stuff, and almost nothing of note in the longer answers. The one answer that actually *tries* to be of note is WAVESKI, which is ... I don't know. Not interesting to me at all. Not even known to me. If you want to be original, why not do it ... in some more satisfying way. "Oh, some arcane 'sport' ... how fun!" Bleh.

IN IT, CAB IT, RAP AT, OCTANT ... where is the good here? The NYT's themed puzzles really, really should not be this miserably mediocre. LAI BAHAI KAUAI goodbye.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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