Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Constructor: Caleb Madison
Relative difficulty: Medium-Easy
Word of the Day: LEGMEN (48A: Reporters on the scene) —
Legman: A reporter who gathers information by visiting news sources or by being present at news events.
• • •Constructor Caleb Madison is the boy genius who was the youngest person ever to have a published NYT crossword. He was 15 in 2008 when his first (of 24) puzzles was printed. A small amount of cyber stalking revealed him to be a student at Yale and someone who engages comedians on Twitter. His puzzle construction is impressive - he manages to cram a lot of movie titles in there and he uses very few predictable fill words (ESC, LEI, OAT, SRTA, E.R.A. being notable examples). He also managed to integrate IMAX (22A: Big Picture?) and TOON (37D: Any 40-Across character) into a movie-themed puzzle, which was a nice touch.
All that said, I found this puzzle to be tedious. I hate to pick on the kid, but I doubt that any vaguely culture-aware human would guess anything other than PIXAR as the "Company whose movies, not counting sequels, are all included in this puzzle". After that, it's just a matter of figuring out which titles go where. The whole exercise felt a bit blah, even though it includes a few interesting pop-references and turns of phrase.
I had a rough time with LEGMEN, as I had only heard that phrase used to describe the opposite of "Breast Men". For some reason, I felt that 12A (Naturalist/TV host Steve) couldn't possibly be STEVE IRWIN since the phrasing implies that he is alive and was not pierced to death by a sting ray.
- RATATOUILLE (17A: 2007)
- BUG'S LIFE (20A: 1998, with "A")
- TOY STORY (57A: 1995)
- INCREDIBLES (61A: 2004, with "The")
- FINDING NEMO (11D: 2003)
- BRAVE (13D: 2012)
- MONSTERS, INC (23D: 2001)
- CARS (27D: 2006)
- WALL-E (50D: 2008)
- UP (Circled Squares: 2009)
By the way, I'm Amy...one of the many non-Rexes here to try and help you forget that Rex is on vacation. Pleased to meet you.
- 49D: Place where opposites don't attract (GAY BAR) and 15A: Popular Dude (MR. COOL) are surprisingly square/old fashioned answers for a teenager...especially when the same grid includes N.W.A. (19A: "Straight Outta Compton" rap group) and DAVID LEE ROTH (62D: Singer David ___ Roth).
- 3D: Four-footed family member (PET) — I kept wanting this to be "dog" or "cat" or even "Rex". It ultimately makes sense, but it threw me.
- 10D: Goes undercover (SLEEPS) — I get it, but I don't like it.
- 47D: Harried parent's desire, maybe (ME TIME) — Clever and cheeky. Nice one.