Racer Yarborough / MON 2-24-14 / Actor MacLeod of old TV / Newswoman Logan / 1957 Everly Brothers hit with repeated lyric Hello loneliness / Maryland home of Walter Reed medical center
Monday, February 24, 2014
Constructor: Adam G. Perl
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (***For A Monday***)
THEME: LOUISA MAY ALCOTT (39A: Author who created the characters named by the starts of 17-, 24-, 49- and 61-Across) — theme answers begin with names of the March girls
- JOKES AROUND
- AMYL NITRITE
William Caleb "Cale" Yarborough (born March 27, 1939), is a farmer, businessman and former NASCARWinston Cup Series driver and owner. He is one of only two drivers in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships. He was the second (2nd) NASCAR driver to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated […]His 83 wins places him at number six on the all-time NASCAR winner's list (behind Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, who are tied for fourth with 84). His 14.82% winning percentage is the ninth best all-time and third among those with 500 or more starts. Yarborough won the Daytona 500 four times; his first win coming in 1968 for theWood Brothers, the second in 1977 for Junior Johnson, and back-to-back wins in 1983 and 1984. In 1984, he became the first driver to qualify for the Daytona 500 with a top speed of more than 200 miles per hour (320 km/h). Yarborough is a three time National Motorsports Press Association Driver of the Year (1977, 1978, 1979). (wikipedia)
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NESTING SITE (?) tripped me up. Had NESTING- and then … nothing. Could not bring myself to accept SITE, as that did not seem like nearly a tight enough phrase to be a crossword answer. It's not a GREEN PAINT* answer (i.e. a totally arbitrary adj./noun pairing), but it just felt off. Also, while I like that there are four longer Downs, I don't like how much longer the Downs are than half the theme answers. Very strange to have four non-theme answers be longer than two of your theme answers. But the real problem here is the staleness of the fill. Ugh to CALE (never can remember if he's HALE or KALE or what, but since both of *those* are actual words, I should really commit the non-word CALE to memory right now), and OLIVA and ADELA (super ugh) and RAE. Then there's the randomest of Roman numerals, CMVI. And lots of crosswordese like ORONO and EZINE (super ugh). And more fill-in-the-blank clues than you can shake a stick at. Most cluing feels lifted from Cluing Compendium of Yore. So, yeah, the puzzle skews very old. And not old-interesting, but old-tired. Old-dull. Old-"please, not again." There's even "Old TV's" GAVIN MacLeod… see, there's just not *balance* here; bring on the old, the new, the whatever, just mix it up and (above all) show evidence of *care* and *trying*.
Here's what trying looks like:
Now it's not Great (I mean, it's still got ADE, so how could it be Great), and admittedly I *tried* for only about 30 seconds, but it's an undeniable improvement on the current NW, nonetheless. BAJA can stand alone, unlike DÉJA. ERE is crosswordese, but sure as hell beats INE. AZURE crushes EZINE. DUKE beats DIKE. I think BIDEN beats DIDIN, but even if you call that a draw (or a downgrade), the overall quality of my revision is better. And I am not a top-flight constructor, and I did not get paid to make this puzzle. So … buttons.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Morning update: I read the clues to my wife as she cooked last night and she (a woman who knows her birds fairly well) couldn't get NESTING SITE to save her life. Even with NESTING in place. It was pretty funny. "NESTING … LIMB?"