Philippine seaport with reduplicative name / TUE 12-24-13 / Class of automobile inspired by Ford Mustang
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Constructor: David J. Kahn
Relative difficulty: Challenging (*for a Tuesday*)
- PRESIDENT OF / SOUTH AFRICA (18A: With 60-Across, 1994-99 role for 36-Across)
- ROBBEN / ISLAND (8A: With 68-Across, prison where 36-Across spent 18 years)
- F.W. DE KLERK (29A: Predecessor of 36-Across and sharer with him of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize)
- APARTHEID (48A: Bygone policy in 60-Across)
Word of the Day: PONY CAR (24A: Class of automobile inspired by the Ford Mustang) —
Pony car is an American class of automobile launched and inspired by the Ford Mustang in 1964. The term describes an affordable, compact, highly styled car with a sporty or performance-oriented image. (wikipedia)
• • •
I don't know why the Times runs puzzles like this—dashed-off trivia-crammed puzzles about the recently deceased. This doesn't come off as tribute. Comes off as a rush job. Bunch of data crammed in a grid. Fake theme answers like TATA (46A: Father, in Xhosa, and a nickname for 36-Across) and ATTENDEE (3D: Barack or Michelle Obama, at the memorial service for 36-Across) only add to the haphazard, arbitrary, whatever-fits feel of the "theme." A well-crafted puzzle with a clever hook of some kind would've been worthy of the man. This just feels weirdly slapdash. Certainly NELSON MANDELA's life is worth commemorating. I just don't quite see this as rising to the level of "commemoration." Also, "role" is a very, very weird word to describe PRESIDENT OF / SOUTH AFRICA. Broadly defined, sure, I guess "role" works, but I was like, "Mandela was an actor???"
This puzzle was much harder than your typical Tuesday, but I think it's an asterisk puzzle—not made in accordance with normal Tuesday standards. Singular. An outlier. A obituarial one-off. PONY CAR!? Yeesh. That, crossing DYE, nearly derailed me. Never heard of a PONY CAR. I LOL'd at TWO-D (27D: Having no depth, briefly), which came up in a recent Rex Parker Facebook discussion as one of my reader's Most Hated Crossword "Words." I suggested we start saying it as one word, TWOD, pronounced just like it looks. We could use it as a pejorative for someone we don't like. "Don't be such a TWOD, Steve." It's good because it sounds profane but is merely nonsensical. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go REPACK for my trip to the Philippines, where I am planning to REMAP ILO ILO (actually, I just have a really early appointment and so need to get some sleep).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld