Japanese chess / TUE 1-7-14 / German city on canal of same name / Alley Oop woman / Headline event in India in 1974 '98 / 1969 platinum record for Creedence Clearwater Revival
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Constructor: Mark Bickham
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Tuesday*)
Word of the Day: KIEL (12D: German city on a canal of the same name) —
Kiel is a city in Calumet and Manitowoc counties in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The population was 3,738 at the 2010 census. Of this, 3,429 were in Manitowoc County, and 309 were in Calumet County. The city is located mostly within Manitowoc County, though a portion extends west into adjacent Calumet County.It was once known as the "Wooden Shoes" Capital of Wisconsin as it held the only wooden shoes factory in Wisconsin. (wikipedia) (Kiel is also a German city with about 240,000 inhabitants; this Wisconsin city is just more fun to contemplate)
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IS THIS GOOD?" You'd probably say "any good" or "still good." You *might* say "IS THIS GOOD?" but revealers are supposed to be bam, pow, spot-on. This one simply isn't. Next, what does RADICAL have to do with all these others? I can see how the other first words have a kind of negative cast that make their "good" meaning unexpected/paradoxical. But RADICAL just doesn't seem to fit whatever pattern this puzzle is supposed to have. Yes, it's a slang adj. meaning "good," no it's not a regular adj. describing something bad (except perhaps in political and tendentious ways that still make it out of step with the other first words). I'd've replaced it with something starting with, say, SICK. Means "good," looks bad. SICK OF IT ALL fits, if you really have to stick with the 11-letter length. I'm sure there are better options, but RADICAL—seems off. Then there's the fill, which is demonstrably subpar. SHOGI (1D: Japanese chess) has only ever appeared in two NYT puzzles in recent(ish) years, for good reason. KIEL is a place (12D: German city on a canal of the same name), and valid if you really need it, but again, it's a foreign word of no great fame that could Easily have been replaced with something better.. I mean, what's it holding in place, IT RIP!?!?! SLO?? Yeesh. The entire grid is weighed down by tired crosswordese. Everywhere, in every corner, the fill is either dull or looks like it's straight out of a Maleska-era grid. That south, man alive. OOOLANOOILOLIO! DO I? OH GOD, indeed. Just a mess. EZIO and EFT, ARNO and OKRA. IRINA and N-TEST. ENTR' and ECARD. There's just no escape. Yesterday's puzzle wasn't Great, but it was solid and had some colorful fill. This one is a strikeout, I'm afraid.
My wife and I, independently, wrote in 'ER RIP at 16A: "Let ___!" ("Full speed ahead!"). I am thus sure that we were not the only ones. IT RIP is one of the worst partials I've ever seen. Yes, worse than the very random A SCAR. I'm just gonna let this one go now, and hope for better days ahead. If you want to do a fun (and free) puzzle, head over to Neville Fogarty's site and pick up "2013 in Portmanteaux." It wasn't my Puzzle of the Week last week, but it was up there.