LGBT activist Savage / THU 6-21-18 / DC comics hero with magic ring / Path in hit 1939 film / Salad items picked at midpoint of their maturity / Villainous army in 1968 Beatles film / v ohio landmark case barring illegally obtained evidence from being used in court

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Constructor: Milo Beckman and David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Pride Flag — Different rows of the crossword have answers that are missing an initial color—supply the color (literally) and you get the Pride Flag

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: ICC (24D: Old transportaiton agcy.) —
The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was a regulatory agency in the United States created by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. The agency's original purpose was to regulate railroads (and later trucking) to ensure fair rates, to eliminate rate discrimination, and to regulate other aspects of common carriers, including interstate bus lines and telephone companies. Congress expanded ICC authority to regulate other modes of commerce beginning in 1906. The agency was abolished in 1995, and its remaining functions were transferred to the Surface Transportation Board.
The Commission's five members were appointed by the President with the consent of the United States Senate. This was the first independent agency (or so-called Fourth Branch). (wikipedia)
• • •

I spent more time coloring the grid than I did solving the puzzle, but had a good time doing both. I didn't actually grasp that it was a Pride Flag until I was done and thought, "Oh, a rainbow ... flag ... and it's Pride Month! Oh, yeah, that's nice." The gimmick is easy to pick up, and most of the color answers are (then) very easy to get, except for a couple. I had no idea what kind of PEPPERS I was dealing with (there are so many colors), and I totally forgot that LAWS even was a theme answer, and so got a bit bogged down right there trying to figure out what [Shopping restrictions] could possibly be in four letters. Only when I was done with the puzzle did I finally see that it was (BLUE) LAWS. Weird that there was no revealer, though cluing ERA as [The Gay Nineties, e.g.] was pretty clever, and there were a couple of explicitly LGBT clues. Most of the fill was solid, and the very worst of the fill was a direct result of the stringency of the theme—ICC and SAK both have their first and last letters fixed by theme answers, and so it's not terribly surprising that that's where the grid strains a little. But emphasis on "little." Overall, as I say, it holds up well. It's a charming and timely puzzle.

 Picked this one up early with (ORANGE)MEN, then got nearby (RED)EYES, and quickly understood that this was a pattern that was going to continue (though I had no idea at that point what colors were coming, or where). Only a few spots gave me trouble. ICC was bad (never heard of it). USO clue didn't mean anything to me, and still ... doesn't (4D: What gets the show on the road, for short?). Is it that USO shows travel... to where troops are? It seems a pretty forced "?" clue. Beyond that, though, I had USE for PLY (unexciting) (32D: Wield), and had never heard of a PASTORATE (11D: Minister's office). Even with PASTOR- in place, I didn't know where that word was going. I assume the clue means "office" in the sense of a job, not a physical space [looking it up] ... yes. Also can refer to a body of pastors. Beyond that, there was no real resistance today. I don't really know Den HAAG, but I've seen it before, and crosses were easy (though I guess if you didn't know Delaware's mascot was the (BLUE)HEN, you might've gotten into trouble with that "H" cross. I can imagine a mascot named BLUE BEN. BLUE KEN, less so. Oh, I also had trouble with 47D: Home to every M.L.B. club whose name starts with "A" (AL WEST). True for team names: A's, Angels, Astros. But the only "A" I could picture in mind (despite being a very avid baseball fan) was the "A" on the cap of the Atlanta Braves ... who play in the NL EAST. I should probably mention that ALORS is very hard if you have no French (51D: Then: Fr.). Very, very. Crosses seem gettable, but who knows? I was lucky enough to get ALORS immediately, but it could easily cause some solvers to spin out. I hope not, though. It's the kind of puzzle that people should be able to take pride ... in solving.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Alice's cat in Through Looking Glass / WED 6-20-18 / Small Eurasian songbird / Goes by livery taxi / Firecracker goes in one / Religious leader usually sporting beard / Real dogs eat meat sloganeer

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:59, slowish for me, but I'm getting over a cold and my eyes are dry and the fan was irritating them etc. ...)

THEME: OU -> U — phrases with "ou" words have the "o" removed, creating good old-fashioned wackiness...

Theme answers:
  • PROPER NUN (17A: Well-behaved sister?)
  • FUR ON THE FLOOR (23A: Evidence of a cat fight?)
  • CURSE CORRECTION (37A: TV bleep?)
  • CURT REPORTERS (45A: Impolite press conference attendees?)
  • PALACE CUP (59A: Part of the queen's tea service?)
Word of the Day: Jacques PÉPIN (48D: TV chef Jacques) —
Jacques Pépin (French pronunciation: ​[ʒak pepɛ̃]; born December 18, 1935) is an internationally recognized French chef, television personality, and author working in the United States. Since the late 1980s, he has appeared on French and American television and written an array of cookbooks that have become best sellers.
• • •

I just don't care about this. It's not trying to be anything but a warmed over puzzle from 1982. There's not even a clever revealer. Take out the "O" ... tada? Besides BULLFINCH (9D: Small Eurasian songbird) and GOOD FAIRY (3D: Tinker Bell, e.g.), there's nothing good here. HIRES A CAR made me want to SHUT A COMPUTER, namely my own. Super-choppy grid with infinite 3-to-5-letter words, most of them repeaters. Proper n(o)uns are mostly from the olden days (e.g. GARBO, PÉPIN). Alice's cat??? And any puzzle that contains UEYS is going to get multiple NAYS from me. Puzzles simply must be more colorful, more current, and more ambitious than this. Demand better. Sorry I can't do more for you today, but this puzzle just doesn't warrant it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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