Monday, December 30, 2013
Constructor: David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Challenging (*for a Monday*)
- PANT-SUITED (18A: In some common women's office attire)
- PENT UP ANGER (24A: What may lead to an emotional explosion)
- PINT MEASURE (36A: Half-quart container)
- PONT-L'ÉVÊQUE (51A: Creamy French cheese)
- PUNT RETURN (59A: Gridiron runback)
Pont-l'Évêque is a French cheese, originally manufactured in the area around the commune of Pont-l'Évêque, between Deauville and Lisieux in the Calvados département of Basse-Normandie. It is probably the oldest Norman cheese still in production.Pont-l'Évêque is an uncooked, unpressed cow's-milk cheese, square in shape usually at around 10 cm square and around 3 cm high, weighing 400g. The central pâte is soft, creamy pale yellow in colour with a smooth, fine texture and has a pungent aroma. This is surrounded by a washed rind that is white with a gentle orange-brown coloration. The whole is soft when pressed but lacks elasticity. It is generally ranked alongside Brie, Camembert, and Roquefort as one of the most popular cheeses in France. (wikipedia)
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PONT L'ÉVÊQUE I've never even heard of. Looking at pictures, I think I've eaten it, but yeesh. Not a Monday answer in this country. PONTIFICATE fits, and probably would've worked better on a Monday. But I wouldn't be complaining about this answer on a Tuesday. It's a fine answer—it's just one of the reasons this played tough for Monday. Another: a low word count (for a Monday, 74 words qualifies as low). All corners are pretty wide open, making footholds harder to find. Again, doable. This puzzle is simply (and obviously) misplaced on Monday. Bigger problem, for me, was PANT-SUITED, which is a horrific and unnecessary answer. It's an adjective that you would simply rarely, if ever, use. Other PANT- words exist. PANTHEISTS. PANTAGRUEL. I mean, I haven't really tried, but there have to be more and better answers than PANT-SUITED, which is only here because that answer needs to be as long as PUNT RETURN, and PANT SUITS is one letter short. There really aren't better PUNT- answers, I don't think. PUNT BLOCK is OK, but far less common. So thumbs-down to that themer, and thumbs-down also to PINT MEASURE, which appears to be … a pint? I guess we're talking about the container, so OK, I'm sure it's a thing, but of all the PINT- answers … yuck. There's also something so desperately awkward about the clue. [Half-quart container] … oh, you mean a pint container? 'Cause that's what we call "Half-quarts."
No one says SOAPER (42D: Daytime drama, informally). Please change "informally" to "in erstwhile times," and then Kill this answer, please. RUBATO (48D: Fluctuation of musical tempo), very tough for Monday. Fine word, not really in my vocabulary. Again, more late-week than it is Monday. WEB APP, again, not Monday (1D: Google Calendar, e.g., informally). I had WIDGET at first. Don't mind the answer. Just baffled, again, by the placement. NANANA is manifestly terrible, but I can let an answer or two like that slide. Really like OUT THERE, but that was also hard to see. Anyway, this was a hit/miss Tuesday puzzle.
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld