Allied supply wrote to China during WWII / TUE 3-11-14 / Lena of Chocolat / She's back in town in Fats Waller song / Kimono securers
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Constructor: Mel Rosen
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: IN BUD (49D: About to bloom … or a hint to 20-, 33-, 41- and 52-Across) — four theme answers start with "BU-" and end with "-D," making … the remainder of the answer? … IN BUD?
- 20A: Idles (BUMS AROUND)
- 33A: Allied supply route to China during W.W. II (BURMA ROAD)
- 41A: Having a rounded end, as pliers (BULL-NOSED)
- 52A: Sycamore tree (BUTTONWOOD)
Ilia Alexandrovich Kulik (Russian: Илья Александрович Кулик (help·info); (born 23 May 1977) is a Russian figure skater. He is the 1998 Olympic Champion, the 1995 European Champion, the 1997–1998 Grand Prix Final champion, and the 1995 World Junior champion. (wikipedia)
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1-Across says it all: STALE. This probably would've been an ordinary, run-of-the-mill early-week puzzle, say, 30 years ago. But now it just feels like a relic. So much crosswordese that you don't need me to point it out. Nothing to put it in this century except clues on TINA (22A: Fey of "30 Rock") and NBC (42D: "Parks and Recreation" network). A theme that doesn't really work with a revealer that's oddly placed. Still baffled that quality is allowed to limp along like this. There are good, fresh, thoughtful, entertaining modern puzzles out there. I solve some on a regular basis. I did a couple this past weekend. The Gold Standard should run those. And Only Those.
The grid shape is a Real problem here today, as we are given four theme answers and then, essentially, a bunch of horrible mini-grids, particularly in the corners. The highly segmented grid means that the tired shorter stuff is isolated and therefore highlighted. What's in this little corner? Oh look, ET TU and T-NOTE! How 'bout this one? ALIS and HASAT! ANIL and ILIA! And about ILIA—inexcusable. Proper noun crosswordese like that, when the grid is Not Hard To Fill, should not be tolerated. ILIA is about as welcome as yesterday's "ELENI." Now the basic old-fashionedness of the theme answers—two of which (BURMA ROAD, BUTTONWOOD) I'd never heard of—I can accept. Constructors and solvers come from all generations, and puzzles can and should reflect that. But the STALE fill, as you know by now, I just can't. Cannot. Can't.
Was going to talk about the ACPT some more today, but this puzzle has ruined the mood. Maybe tomorrow?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld