Italy's San __ / Sun 6-8-14 / Bruce of "Nebraska" / Dormant Turkish volcano / Political commentator Liz / Mohs scale mineral
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: *cross out* — Common phrases are clued two ways. The second clue requires you to "cross out" one letter in the first answer, replacing it with 'X', to get a new phrase. UPDATE: commenter points out that, after the puzzle is solved, you "cross out" the letters that spell "crossed out." I'm sure we all have opinions about whether that makes it work. I'm feeling a little sheepish, I guess. --treedweller
Warning: video contains strong language
Word of the Day: SORORAL (88D: Like some twins) —
Fraternal or dizygotic (DZ) twins (also referred to as "non-identical twins", "dissimilar twins", "biovular twins", and, in cases of females, sororal twins) usually occur when two fertilized eggs are implanted in the uterus wall at the same time.—Wikipedia
• • •Happy Sunday, everyone. This is treedweller again, and I am not sure where this write-up is going. I have extremely mixed feelings about this puzzle. As I was solving, I wore a SMILEY FACE because every answer was smooth, without the irksome corners of crosswordese I expect in such a big grid. Mostly, I think, I was just relieved it didn't turn out to be a soporific slog, which is how I often see Sunday puzzles. The pop culture fill was right out of my salad days, making it very gettable and vaguely nostalgic (I saw 91A: "Vision Quest" co-star Matthew MODINE in the theater with my first girlfriend, for example).
Then I got to the end. Solving on the ipad Crosswords app, I was disappointed to find it was not giving me credit for a correct solution. After a little troubleshooting, I just asked for the reveal, where I discovered a mistake--in the software. 102A: [*cross out* Children's song] Ignore the lunch I brought and just eat the fish? was the clue, and the answer it provided was SKIP TO MY LOOX. Then I filled the grid on the NYT site and still got no satisfaction, so again revealed the solution. Turns out it wanted the "cross-out" squares to be written U/X. But that's just silly logistical issues, so I'm not overly concerned by it.
My complaint is, I can't see how the theme works. I liked the clever phrases Mr. Berry wrought with his Xes, but the name of the game is Crossword, and the crosses Do Not Work. For example, 18D: Studies intently is clearly STARES AT. It is not Staxexat, and it is not Starxesxat. So I guess you're supposed to solve with the first clue, then just alter the theme answers with the cross-outs after you're done. Maybe it passes on a technicality, but I call Foul.
- 23A: [*cross out* Symbols of happiness] Transmission with colons, dashes and parentheses? SMILEY FAC/XES I was looking to make "emoticons" part of this answer.
- 29A: [*cross out* Sun Tzu tome] Madame Tussaud's specialty? THE ART OF WAR/X
- 38A: [*cross out* "Star Wars" character] Where droids go to dry out? ARTOODETOO/X I think this is my favorite alteration.
- 42A: [*cross out* Gibbons and siamangs] Mountaintop that's not the very top?
- 56A: [*cross out* Pageant] Circumstances that render someone attractive? BEAUTY CONTES/XT
- 78A: [*cross out* Pine, e.g.] Dinosaur that never goes out of style? EVERGREEN TREE/X I have to be happy when I see a tree in the grid, though I found this to be less than satisfying as a clever twist on the phrase.
- 92A: [*cross out* Studio substitute] Squarish bed? BOD/XY DOUBLE
- 95A: [*cross out* Member of a certain 1990s-2000s rock band] Censor unhappy with "Family Guy" and "Glee," maybe? FOO/X FIGHTER I have reservations about this one based on the fact that the band members are in Foo Fighters, but one member of the band is not a foo fighter. per Wikipedia: "The term foo fighter was used by Allied aircraft pilots in World War II to describe various UFOs or mysterious aerial phenomena seen in the skies over both the European and Pacific theaters of operations."
- 102A: [*cross out* Children's song] Ignore the lunch I brought and just eat the fish?
SKIP TO MY LOU/X
- 113A: [*cross out* After-dinner display] One way to see a pie's filling? DESSERT T/XRAY
- 68D: Singer/actress Rita MORENO — My mother loved her because of "West Side Story," but to me she was the "Hey, you guys!" lady.
- 107A: Warner Bros. cartoon company ACME — I have done my best to remain objective on this one.