Overlapping fugue motifs / SUN 7-6-14 / New World monkey / Star in Summer Triangle / Four-time NBA all-star pau / Setting of James Clavell's Gai-Jin / Wolfsheim gambler in Great Gatsby / Initialism in Beatles title / Title name in 2000 Eminem hit / City whose name was source of word sherry
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Constructor: Daniel C. Bryant
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Oh, Say…" — buncha facts about "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER" (65A: This puzzle's theme, whose first notes are indicated by shaded squares); shaded squares (represented here by circles) form a visual representation of the anthem's opening notes as they would appear on a musical STAFF (8D: Locale for this puzzle's shaded squares).
- FRANCIS SCOTT KEY (24A: Lawyer who wrote 65-Across)
- EIGHTEEN FOURTEEN (30A: Year 24-Across wrote 65-Across)
- BRITISH PUB SONG (40A: What the music to 65-Across was, originally)
- WHITNEY HOUSTON (88A: Performer who gave a memorable rendition of 65-Across in 1991)
- PRISONER EXCHANGE (99A: Mission that 24-Across was on when he wrote 65-Across)
- BALTIMORE HARBOR (113A: Where 24-Across was inspired to write 65-Across)
Word of the Day: Matt BAI (69D: Political writer Matt) —
Matt Bai // is national political columnist for Yahoo! News. Prior to that, he was the chief political correspondent for the New York Times Magazine, where he covered both the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns. Bai often explores issues of generational change in American politics and society. His seminal cover stories in the magazine include the 2008 cover essay “Is Obama the End of Black Politics?” and a 2004 profile of John Kerry titled “Kerry’s Undeclared War.” His work was honored in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Best American Political Writing. Bai is a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University in Medford, MA. In 2014, Bai appeared as himself in the second season of TV show House of Cards. (wikipedia)
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Happy 6th of July, everybody!
This puzzle lost me at 1-Across, and continued to lose me more and more as that little NW corner filled itself in. I just don't have patience for fill this mediocre/bad any more. I wrote in ADINS immediately (1A: Serving edges), but with sincere hope that it was wrong. No dice. Here is my very smart and very kind tennis fan / constructor friend's best defense of ADINS:
We...e..e...e...ll, no denying it's a strained plural. You can't have a simultaneously co-existing handful of AD-INs, as you can balls, or strawberries, or All-England Club towels. But I suppose you could say, "Federer has not captalized on four AD-INs and is still serving as the length of this game stretched to seven minutes.Why is there creaky, junky fill in an easy-to-fill little section of the grid? It just shouldn't be. Shouldn't. Be. So theme shmeme, I was already opposed to this puzzle before I'd even begun. First impressions are often right, because if that little NW corner isn't filled well, what are the odds any of the rest of it will be? (A: slim).
The theme consisted mostly of arbitrary trivia about the national anthem. The real thematic coup de grâce was the visual representation of the anthem's opening notes, which is very nicely conceived and executed. Sadly, it causes HEMIC, which is kind of robbing Peter to pay Paul, elegance-wise. There was some longer fill in here that I liked quite a bit: YOKOHAMA, COLD CASH, ESCAROLE, and NEOPHYTE, all lovely. I also like FACTOTUM, a word I never use and rarely see but like nonetheless. Seems like it should mean something completely different, like … a small bit of data or … some kind of sacred object or amulet or something. Maybe I never hear it any more because no one has "general servants" (whatever those are) anymore? Anyway, thumbs up to that SAT word. I read "The great Gatsby" for the first time (true story) last year and I don't remember the MEYER Wolfsheim at all. And yet I remember the TITI (15D: New World monkey) and Val d'ISERE (29A: Skiing destination Val d'___), so who can say how my brain works?
Not much else to say here. Puzzle was extraordinarily easy. I was done in well under 10 despite knowing nothing about the national anthem besides FRANCIS SCOTT KEY. Oh, I have one other thing to say: let's never, ever do tribute puzzles on off days. Hit the day on the nose or don't hit it at all. Ridiculously anti-climactic to have this arrive two days late.
Puzzle of the Week this week goes to Patrick Berry for his Friday NYT themeless. Its only fault was it was too easy. Otherwise, it's as close to perfect a piece of themeless grid construction as you're ever going to see.