Hebrew letter before nun / WED 5-22-13 / 1972 Slade song Take Me Back / Cohort of Athos / Firth of Clyde port / Arabian Nights menace / Sicko documentarian / Winter's Bone heroine Dolly
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Constructor: Kevin Christian
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: -X + -CKS — homophonic phrases where first word ends -X and last word ends -CKS
- 17A: Complaints about a Kentucky fort? (KNOX KNOCKS)
- 36A: Place a levy on pushpins? (TAX TACKS)
- 42A: Security for smoked salmon? (LOX LOCKS)
- 62A: Piles of old soul records? (STAX STACKS)
- 11D: Say no to some pro basketballers? (NIX KNICKS)
- 35D: Critic Reed does major damage? (REX WRECKS)
Largest of the Clyde Coast holiday towns, Ayr lies in the very centre of the famous Firth of Clyde playground, 32 miles South-West of Glasgow, it looks out on the glorious panorama of the Firth, with the majestic peaks of Arran in the foreground and the Mull of Kintyre in the background. The beautiful Ayrshire countryside provided the inspiration for some of the finest verses of the National Bard of Scotland, Robert Burns. // Undoubtedly Ayr is an old town—the most zealous of historical researchers cannot say just how old. Its story is writ large on the pages of Scottish history. Many of its landmarks bear the indelible stamp of its antiquity. But in every other respect the Auld Toun is the modern home of a modern-minded and thriving community who are well aware of the need to keep abreast of the times, not only for their own sakes but for the benefit of the many thousands who come annually to make holiday. (www.ayr.org)
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IN A TREE and RETOTAL are *total* wastes of good long-Down real estate (though I will say that most of the other 7s are just fine). "Good enough" just isn't good enough. Surely people can sense how *tired* a puzzle like this is. Adequate, passable, defensible, but at best Just OK. Something you might've seen 30 years ago, not in that the fill's old, but in that it seems to come from an era when puzzles underwent less scrutiny, when there was less basis for comparison, and when standards of polish and zest were generally much laxer. The idea appears to be "Playful theme + defensible fill = all you need." But it's not enough any more. I don't know why we're still seeing Just OK puzzles in the NYT, but I'm grateful that more and more people seem to be noticing. As they say: write your congressperson.
How about a 12-step program for people addicted to bad fill? We could name it after the 5th row of this puzzle: REEMEMANON. "Hi, my name is ..."
- 10A: Strained-at-bug, in an idiom (GNAT) — I am not familiar with this idiom. It's from Matthew 23:24, "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." That last part must be tricky.
- 24A: Hebrew letter before num (MEM) — the only MEM I know is [Grizzlies, on a scoreboard]
- 9D: Keebler cracker brand (ZESTA) — the snack preferred by both Perle MESTA and the hearth goddess VESTA.