Area of basketball court near basket / MON 3-25-19 / Roman moon goddess / Bit of pond growth

Monday, March 25, 2019

Constructor: Kevin Christian and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for a Monday) (because of the center) (3:24)

THEME: LPS (62D: Old records ... or a hint for this puzzle's seven longest answers) — two-word phrases, first word starts with "L," second word starts with "P":

Theme answers:
  • LATIN PERCUSSION (17A: Tito Puente's specialty)
  • LEOPARD PRINT (23A: Material that's spotted at a fashion show?)
  • LOW POST (41A: Area of a basketball court near the basket)
  • LAUNCHING PAD (51A: Rocket's takeoff point)
  • LEGAL PROCEEDING (61A: Court case, e.g.)
  • LOTTO PRIZE (3D: Mega Millions jackpot)
  • LATEX PAINT (31D: Wall covering that's washable with soap and water)
Word of the Day: LOW POST (41A) —
A term referring to the area on a basketball court at the bottom of the key, typically on either side of the basket. The key is the rectangular area that encompasses the middle of the floor underneath the basket. It is often shaded and always has a semi-circle attached on the short side opposite the basket. The low post is named in contrast/opposition to the high post, which is at the top of the rectangle away from the basket. (
• • •

Note: don't try to mask your weak theme with a surfeit of theme answers. If it's no good from the jump, more is definitely not better. "Hey, how about another LP phrase!?" No thanks, I'm full. "Seven themers! That's impressive, right?" Not really. LPS is simply not a good basis for a theme, any more than *any* random two-letter abbreviation is a good basis for a theme. Please, if you are a novice constructor (or any constructor), I beg you, don't start in on your DAS puzzle, or your PIS puzzle, or your MCS puzzle ... just don't. And a couple of these themers are kind of weak. LAUNCHING PAD? When I google that in quotation marks, the first thing that comes up in a definition for ... LAUNCH PAD, which is what normals call it. LOTTO PRIZE? "Lotto jackpot" googles 10x better. LOW POST is probably my favorite of them all, but it's pretty damn hard for a Monday puzzle. That whole middle of the grid was a nightmare for me. Cluing RAMON as a San Francisco suburb is ridiculous. I get it, you live in SF, but the rest of the world doesn't, so give RAMON a real clue, please. MAMMAS is an absurd spelling. ASDOI!? You know my feelings about this answer and all his relatives (ASAMI, SODOI, etc.). Yuck. I had _OW--T for 41A: Area of a basketball court near the basket, and I honestly wrote in DOWN NET. Ugh, and that section is all horribly cut off from the rest of the grid, with just those little inroads. Conceptually overly simple, with fill that's at best adequate. No joy solving this one today.

The more I look at the fill, the worse this one gets. I guess we're supposed to look at All Those Themers and just ignore the rest. All the stale, short rest. Aside from DOWN NET (!), I didn't have any initial errors except for LAP AT instead of LAP UP (23D: Drink, like a cat or dog). I blanked on GADOT at first, and couldn't think of a word that could follow LOTTO (which tells you something about the word that follows LOTTO). I'm just looking at the whole north section (PESO PAP ERE) and thinking how easy it would be to make it better. MISO MAP IRE is better. ALSO APP LIE is much better. PAP and ERE just rub me the wrong way. Seems like most corners of this grid could be improved with a tiny bit of elbow grease. You can't do better than ONEA over TTOP? ALGA and AGAR in the same small corner? ANNO x/w ITSO in the NE? AER over TRA? The self-styled Best Puzzle in the World should be cleaner than this.

Congrats to Dan Feyer on winning his record 8th (!!!) American Crossword Puzzle Tournament championship yesterday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. 149 people know what's up:

P.P.S. important AFROS news

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Reformed demon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer / SUN 3-24-19 / Site of 1796 Napoleon victory / Exclamation after performance of Every Breath You Take / Slapstick actor Jacques / Metaphor for aggressive political arena / Dundee dissent

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Medium (11:18)

THEME: "Code Switching" — familiar words with letter homonyms in them have those homonyms switched to the NATO PHONETIC ALPHABET equivalents for those homonyms, creating wackiness etc.

Theme answers:
  • BOSTON TANGO (i.e. "T", i.e. "tea")  PARTY (22A: *Ballroom dancing event for Beantown residents?)
  • YANKEE (i.e. "Y", i.e. "why") BOTHER (33A: *Annoying member of a New York baseball team?)
  • UNIFORM (i.e. "U", i.e. "you") BET (47A: *Wager in which the winner gets the loser's pants and jersey?)
  • THE PRINCESS AND THE PAPA (i.e. "P", i.e. "pea") (67A: *Duo ruling a kingdom on Take Your Daughter To Work Day?)
  • BRAVO (i.e. "B", i.e. "bee"), STING (85A: *Exclamation after a performance of "Every Breath You Take"?) 
  • CHARLIE (i.e. "C", i.e. "sea") WORLD (100A: *Amusement park named after a "Peanuts" boy?)
Word of the Day: HORAE (12D: Greek goddesses of the seasons) —
In Greek mythology the Horae (/ˈhɔːr/) or Horai (/ˈhɔːr/) or Hours (GreekὯραιHōraipronounced [hɔ̂ːraj], "Seasons") were the goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time. [...] The number of Horae varied according to different sources, but was most commonly three: either the trio of ThalloAuxo and Carpo (goddesses of the order of nature) or Eunomia (goddess of good order and lawful conduct) and her sisters Dike (goddess of Justice) and Eirene (goddess of Peace). (wikipedia)
• • •

Well the glorious four-day streak of enjoyable puzzles comes to a crashing end with this one. The theme answers and (especially) theme clues on this one are so tortured, so unfunny, that this felt much more like a chore than a treat. I honestly didn't fully "get" the theme until I was done, even with the revealer completely filled in. I don't think there's a single answer in this grid that made me smile or think "ooh, nice." Not one. The 7+ non-theme stuff is scant and dull. TOP-LINE? What the heck is that? (57D: Five-star) Also, who knows or cares about the NATO / PHONETIC ALPHABET? At all? The only reason I know anything about it, the only place I ever see it mentioned, ever, is ... [drum roll] ... in crosswords. TEE DEE US. What is an ANYA? (99D: Reformed demon on"Buffy the Vampire Slayer"). What are HAT TREES? Are those like hat racks? ETHENE? UPTREND? Honestly, these are the *high*lights. BEAR PIT!?!?!?! What kind of messed up person uses that (whatever that is) for a quote unquote metaphor. I don't even know what a BEAR PIT is, non-metaphorically, and I've never heard anyone use it as a metaphor for politics. Bear-baiting (cruel), I've heard of. BEAR PIT? Snakes go in pits. Bears go in the woods. Or so I'm told. Save the bears. Hug a bear. Shred this puzzle.

I think I should just cut out now, because the more I look at this, the less I like it. I struggled over dumb stuff like, uh, OLAF or OLAV, and CRT or LCD, and IRA / ARI or ARI / IRA. To me, LODI is a wine region in California. Or a CCR song. I had no idea about this supposed [Site of a 1796 Napoleon victory]. Wow. ANYA shmanya, what was that? And here's the thing that really irks me. No one who knows / loves "Peanuts" would clue CHARLIE (all on its own) as a "'Peanuts' boy." He's Chuck, or he's full-name Charlie Brown. I had ___ WORLD and despite being an avid "Peanuts" fan had no idea what boy could fit there. LINUS, no? SCHROEDER, no? PIGPEN, no? CHARLIE!?!?!?! Yeah, they're always calling him "Charlie," that totally checks out (/sarcasm). The cluing here and all over is just ugly. What does the THE PRINCESS AND THE PAPA clue even mean? If you take your daughter to work, she doesn't actually have a job title. She doesn't actually work. You don't let her fly the damn plane. I realize that particular themer was probably a bear (rawr!!!) to clue, but [Duo ruling a kingdom on Take Your Daughter To Work Day] is particularly clunky. Better to make PAPA refer to the Goldilocks bear (rawrrrr!!!). Gah. Make Sundays Better!!!!!  Better than ALIENEEEEEEEEE argh. I mean, BEAR PIT, really. Dear lord.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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