Gulf of Aqaba resort city / FRI 11-28-14 / Trading insider Boesky / Space blanket material / Italian port on the Tyrrhenian Sea / Theater magnate Marcus / Mother of the Freedom Movement, to friends / Tolkien protagonist
Friday, November 28, 2014
Constructor: Tracy Gray
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
- JERUSALEMCROSS / SALERNO
- SPRINGSALEAK / NEWSALERT
- ROSALEEPARKS / SALEM'SLOT
The Esalen Institute, commonly just called Esalen, is a retreat center and intentional community in Big Sur, California, which focuses upon humanistic alternative education. Esalen is a nonprofit organization devoted to activities such as personal growth, meditation, massage, Gestalt, yoga, psychology, ecology, spirituality, and organic food. The institute offers more than 500 public workshops a year, in addition to conferences, research initiatives, residential work-study programs, and internships.Esalen was founded by Michael Murphy and Dick Price in 1962. Their goal was to explore work in the humanities and sciences, in order to fully realize what Aldous Huxley had called the "human potentialities".
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A puzzle to celebrate idiotic consumerism. Great. Fantastic.
Even if I didn't find the "madness" this puzzle is celebrating slightly repugnant, even if I was a huge love of BLACK FRIDAY shopping, I would still have found this puzzle wanting. There were a couple big reasons for this:
- It's just a SALE rebus. I mean, that's it. Straight. Basic. Kind of dull. If you're going to have a revealer like BLACK FRIDAY, it seems like you could exploit black squares or the letters FRI or something, anything interesting. That's certainly what a Fireball or American Values Club or other high-end independent outlet would've done. Something truly creative. This is simply a SALE rebus. Four SALEs. I do not see how this is an adequate way to represent a self-described "Time of annual madness." Four SALEs is not madness. It's barely Presidents' Day weekend.
- While the theme does get us a couple nice rebus-containing answers (SALEM'S LOT, and, especially, NEWS ALERT), it also gets us dreadful old crosswordy answers like the ADAM'S ALE / ESALEN crossing, and the improbable and utterly uncrossworthy middle-name version of Rosa Parks's name. Also, SALEM and JERUSALEM are too related to inhabit the same grid. Salem, in the bible, is the "royal city of Melchizedek, traditionally identified with Jerusalem." This is where other SALEMs get their name. I consider JERUSALEM and SALEM dupes. Bad form.
Fill overall is middling, with EILAT and SHMO being the most irksome stuff (though that ALOHAS MESON SYST bank is pretty rough, too). Most of the rest is solid, but none of the non-theme stuff really shines. The main difficulties in this puzzle were a. figuring out that there was a theme at all (who's looking for it on Friday?), and b. just finding out where those four squares were. I didn't know until quite late that there was a theme. I had almost all the N and NE worked out. But I had SPRINGS A - (crossing NEWS RT, which I didn't blink at). So I thought there was a rebus of some kind, but from where I was sitting, it looked like the rebus was "LEAK." Then I scanned the clues to see if there was a revealer, and found it, and then things got much easier from there. The cluing is really uninspired on this one. I'm looking around for clues to single out for praise, and honestly don't see any. Seems like your big blow-out BLACK FRIDAY puzzle should be bolder and more creative than this. So many people will be working the puzzle today—what the hell else are you gonna do, stuck at home with the family you've already spent so much time with? Why not give solvers something daring, bold, and truly tricky?