Old Jewish villages / SUN 5-4-14 / Old Highlands dagger / Chess champ Mikhail / Auto sponsor of Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life / Landmark tech product of 1981 / Biblical name of ancient Syria /
Sunday, May 4, 2014
Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo
Relative difficulty: Easy
In mathematics and mathematical logic, Boolean algebra is the subarea of algebra in which the values of the variables are the truth values trueand false, usually denoted 1 and 0 respectively. Instead of elementary algebra where the values of the variables are numbers, and the main operations are addition and multiplication, the main operations of Boolean algebra are the conjunction and, denoted ∧, the disjunction or, denoted ∨, and the negation not, denoted ¬. (wikipedia)
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BASSOON, BARRELED, and AGENT all seeming perfectly fine answers for their clues, without the "double" intro. Then I got DOUBLE-EDGED. Then the theme was instantly apparent (variations on it having been done many times before), and filling in the rest of the theme answers was simple. No challenge. None. The fill is mostly right out-of-the-box and 30+ years old. All of it. Tons of crosswordese and tired answers. Competent, but drab. I could pick out individual answers I didn't like, but it's not a great use of time—you did the puzzle (presumably), you can see all the blah (as well as the ATTU, ONEC, SNEE, TELA, EAP, etc.).
The only thing I remember about solving this is that I was stunned by the (apparently legit) spelling on SARAPES. I *knew* it was SERAPES, but then it couldn't be CLEAR THE AIR, so it must be … something else THE AIR. But what? Turns out, nothing, that's what. It's CLEAR THE AIR, and you can just spell SARAPES that way. This is not the kind of thing you want being the puzzle's primary lasting impression. I don't put much store in a grid's being Scrabbly for Scrabbliness's sake, but man this puzzle could've used *something* out of the old 4-point-or-higher tile group. Yeesh. Lots of Es and As and Ss and Ns and Ts and Rs. Seas of them. In the end, this puzzle has a thin layer of interest surrounding a great gob of filler.
Puzzle of the Week this week is Aimee Lucido's AVClub puzzle, "Period of Decline," a super-smart and funny science-themed puzzle with a perfect revealer (get it here; read about it here). Weird, thoughtful, entertaining—I really appreciate the energy and craft that are going into Ben Tausig's AVClub puzzles week in and week out. His puzzles, along with the Peter Gordon-edited Fireball, are the most reliably great puzzles out there at the moment. But if you've been reading me on Sundays, then you knew that.