The Lizard constellation / WED 5-16-12 / Violinmaker Amati / Modern home of ancient Elam / Home of MacDill Air Force Base / 1964 Hitchcock thriller / Former world heavyweight champion Johansson / Comment made while elbowing someone / Burgundy bud
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Constructor: Kevin Adamick
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: I don't know. Double something. — Two entries in each of the puzzles corners are repeated words.
Word of the Day: LACERTA (38A: The Lizard constellation) —
Lacerta is one of the 88 modern constellations defined by the International Astronomical Union. Its name is Latin for lizard. A small, faint constellation, it was created in 1687 by the astronomerJohannes Hevelius. Its brightest stars form a "W" shape similar to that of Cassiopeia, and it is thus sometimes referred to as 'Little Cassiopeia'. It is located between Cygnus, Cassiopeia and Andromedaon the northern celestial sphere. The northern part lies on the Milky Way. (wikipedia)
• • •
LAR (61D: Actress ___ Park Lincoln)? HITCHY (9A: "___-Koo" (old ragtime standard))? RETAN? Crossing ATAN? I just kept groaning and groaning—by the end, I was stuck in the NE and I almost didn't bother to push on. Honestly, I just stared at the grid. My solving time is atrocious for this reason. This puzzle ... it's just not acceptable work. I hate saying this, I honestly do, but this should've been rejected. How bad does the NYT need Wednesdays? I could go on and on, but the flaws are glaring and I'm just too tired. [A friend just pointed out that this puzzle is 70 words, i.e. *exceedingly* low for a Wednesday. That's a Fri/Sat word count. This *might* explain the atrocious fill (lower the word count, harder the grid is to fill well). Maybe if the grid were utterly rebuilt, this could've been passable. Still wouldn't have cared for the "theme," but at least it would've been inoffensive.]
ET ALIA does not mean [And so on]. No, it doesn't. No, it doesn't. I swear to you. Well, I guess you could lawyer it into submission, but ... no. ET ALIA means "and others." You're thinking of ET CETERA ("and the rest" / "and so forth"). I had ETCETC there at first. Godawful. OK, I'm stopping, because I have zero nice to say. Except there's a reason you never see LACERTA in the grid. OK, sorry, seriously, stopping.
Now you all can heap praise on this thing. Someone should. I can't.
- MAHI MAHI
- AMEN AMEN
- HINT HINT (had WINK WINK—certified superior answer)
- YADA YADA
- "LIAR LIAR"
- SERA SERA (this is what's known as a "partial"; we don't make theme answers out of them)
- AGAR AGAR (now *there's* a scintillating theme answer!)
- 11D: Home of MacDill Air Force Base (TAMPA) — no idea. Part of the reason I just stared at the NE in exasperated silence for a while.
- 25A: Like the area around an erupting volcano (ASHY) — mind's eye saw only lava, not ash.
- 28A: Tennis whiz (ACER) — these aren't equivalent. I served aces in my time. I was never a "whiz." Plenty of "whizzes" don't ace much at all. To be honest, the clue isn't the problem here. It never is with ACER. All future ACERs should get PC-related clues.
PS now seems as good a time as any to direct your attention to this exhaustive recent discussion about the problem (or non-problem) of "bad fill" (at Tyler Hinman's blog)—many constructors chime in, and almost none of them are crybabies.