White-crested ducks / SUN 6-22-14 / Summer weather stat / 2014 for Doublemint gum / Town on south shore of Long Island / Southern university whose newspaper is Hullabaloo
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
- ¢ENTENNIAL (23A: 2014, for Doublemint gum)
- VI¢ENTE FOX (25A: Mexican president of the early 2000s)
- ¢ENTRIST (40A: Middle-of-the-road)
- IRIDES¢ENT (44A: Like mother-of-pearl)
- RE¢ENT PAST (66A: Several days ago, say)
- ¢ENTIPEDES (70A: Bugs that technically are misnamed)
- PER¢ENTAGE (93A: Agent's cut)
- TEN ¢ENTS (96A: Total value of the symbols created by the special crossings in this puzzle)
- DE¢ENT MEAL (113A: Something square to eat?)
- "I'M INNO¢ENT!" (116A: Defendant's cry)
Word of the Day: THI (29D: Summer weather stat.) —
Temperature-Humidity Index, or THI, a number used to indicate the discomfort caused by the combined effects of heat and moisture in the air. The formula used to calculate the index is designed to yield a value ranging from 70 to 80. In general, almost all persons are comfortable when the index is 70, and almost no one is when it is 80. In 1985, the National Weather Service officially adopted the Heat Index to replace the THI, but in some areas the THI is still given with summer weather data. (HowStuffWorks.com)
• • •
Did you read this interview with Liz Gorski last week (on the Ravishly.com website)? I forget if I linked to it here or just posted about it on Twitter and Facebook. Anyway, it's charming and interesting and well worth the read.
The "Challenging" part of my "Medium-Challenging" rating is entirely for the time it takes you to pick up exactly what is going on with the Across/Down, "I + C = ¢" thing. Once you get a feel for it, the puzzle plays pretty normal, maybe even a little on the easy side (since you know all those CENTS are coming down the pike). I'm a bit surprised to see this theme appear so soon after a very similar Sunday theme—Daniel Finan's DOLLAR$ AND ¢ENTS puzzle from last year, which I Loved, and which had not only the I/C rebus, but the I/S rebus (for the "$") as well. That puzzle appeared in the NYT less than a year ago (7/14/13), and while Liz's version is clearly not identical, and does have both the "Dime Store"/TEN¢ENTS angle and the "¢ENT" letter string angle (neither of which featured in last year's puzzle), still, it's a bit strange to repeat a basic core concept in so short a period of time.
Anyway, this puzzle looks pretty good on its own, less good when compared to Finan's masterpiece from last year. Once you pick up the concept, as I say, things get easy, and there's not a lot of oomph left in the grid. Nothing that's going to surprise or amuse you. Just more ¢ signs. There were bits here and there that I found entertaining, like the double-rebus answer PA¢NP¢LL (12D: Percocet, for one), or the phrase NO RELATION (28A: Tyler Perry, to Katy Perry, e.g.), which is common, but which I can't remember ever seeing before (nice clue on that one, too). But otherwise the puzzle felt pretty average, fill-wise. Good chunk of common crossword stuff, lots of RLSTNE words. An unfortunate pair of anatomical partials in EYE ON and EAR TO. A word I didn't know was a word (SMOOTHEN? Next you'll be telling me ENSMOOTHEN is a word… what's wrong with How is SMOOTHEN different from SMOOTH?). Most baffling answer was THI—I was happy to see that this is a standard of measurement that hasn't been used by the National Weather Service for almost 30 years; made me feel better about my ignorance. That is perhaps an initialism we should put out of its misery right bleeping here and now.
It's late and I smell like campfire and I want to go to bed, so I'm going to rattle off my
Puzzles of the Week
for the last three weeks in pretty quick succession here.
First week of June: Patrick Blindauer's "Something Is Rotten in the State of Denmark" (patrickblindauer.com)—a puzzle you can get here for free (under "Play"). It's a toughie, so A. pay attention to the title, which is very important, and B. remember that the "Solution" is also available at his site (again, under "Play").
Second week of June: Merl Reagle's "The Homer That Never Happened" (Merl Reagle's Sunday Crosswords), an astonishing Sunday-sized puzzle about a familiar MYTH. Can't describe it much without giving it away. You'll want to do this one. Merl described it to me as more of a "killer find" than a "killer feat," but … well, you'll see. I see what he means, but he's being modest.
Third week of June: Caleb Madison's "Put the Gun Down" (American Values Club), a smart and entertaining oversized (18x19) offering. Tricky, funny, and very contemporary. Despite two short music answers that absolutely gave me fits (Because I Am Oldish), I found this one irresistible. Get it here for a buck (or just subscribe to AVC already)— or read about it here, at Crossword Fiend.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld