Popular six-second clips since 2013 / SUN 8-17-14 / Title film locale in Springwood, Oh / Singer with 2009 hit Tik Tok / Accoutrement popularized by a Seinfeld episode / Mortal queen of Thebes who was transfigured into goddess / R&B sing with 2004 #1 hit Goodies
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Constructor: Caleb Madison
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for reasons I don't understand, as the theme was easy enough to pick up …)
THEME: "Sittin' Solve"— theme answers are "___ AND ___" phrases that have been converted to "___IN' ___" phrases by way of Texan homophony. Yes, Virginia, there is wackiness.
- WRITIN' WRONG (20A: Spellin' things incorrectly?)
- JACKIN' COKE (29A: Stealin' a hard drug?)
- ROCKIN' ROLL (32A: Pushin' some bread back and forth?)
- BARRIN' GRILL (66A: Not allowin' anyone to cook burgers and franks?)
- TIMIN' AGAIN (104A: Recheckin' with a stopwatch?)
- SHOWIN' TELL (106A: Demonstratin' how to shoot an apple off someone's head?)
- CUTTIN' PASTE (116A: Usin' less stickum?)
- HITTIN' MISS (2D: Givin' a female casino patron another card?)
- BUYIN' LARGE (12D: Makin' some big purchases?)
- WILLIN' GRACE (38D: Hopin' favor is bestowed?)
- NIPPIN' TUCK (73D: Btitin' a friend of Robin Hood?)
- HAULIN' OATS (75D: Carryin' a load of grain?)
Word of the Day: Clark GREGG (79D: Clark ___, "The Avengers" actor) —
Robert Clark Gregg (born April 2, 1962) is an American actor, screenwriter and director, best known for his role as Phil Coulson in the films Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), and Marvel's The Avengers (2012), and in the television series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which airs on the ABC network. He also voices the character on the animated television series Ultimate Spider-Man. Gregg has also co-starred as Christine Campbell's ex-husband Richard in the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, which debuted in March 2006 and concluded in May 2010. He also played FBI Special Agent Mike Casper on the NBC series The West Wing and Cam, the on-and-off boyfriend of Jack (and client of Grace) on the NBC series Will & Grace. [BOOM, stealth "Will & Grace" / WILLIN' GRACE tie-in! All the points to Slytherin'!]
• • •
most bizarre and mesmerizing tumblr: "If you didn't see on my various social media hubs, I spent [the summer] living in an RV in Forks, Washington with the owner and only tour guide of the last surviving "Twilight" tour company, taking pix and interview people in the town. It was surreal and crazy and what am I doing with my life." So there you go. Now I am going to segue to the puzzle via the observation that, like many of today's young people, Mr. Madison is highly attuned to the tech / pop culture / social media world (witness the tumblr account you have just witnessed) (segue!). This puzzle grid roils with such modern contrivances as The ZUNE The SNAPCHAT and The EMOJI and The VINES (actually *The* VINES are a musical group, which Caleb also probably knows—his name-dropping of CIARA and KESHA and 50 Cent lets you know he's fluent in most popular music forms right up to 2009). Throw in SASHA Fierce and whoever Clark GREGG is, and you can see that Mr. Madison is a young man of this century.
Like Friday's puzzle, this puzzle's theme was somewhat unremarkable (from a solving standpoint) and easy to uncover. Unlike Friday's puzzle, this grid abounds in good fill. It looks like a highly segmented nightmare, scattershot through with black squares, like an English muffin or a honeycomb or some kind of horrid life-size human maze that you'd get lost in as a child. The design made me think the puzzle would be easy to cut through, and that the interesting answers would be few and far between, but I was wrong on both counts. Clues were both smart and tough, so that I *repeatedly* got stuck and had to break my preferred method of constant interlock solving (Always Work Crosses, Never Jump Around … unless ordered to by these guys) and leap into the void anew. It looks like you'd have a million different ways to get into each section of the puzzle, but in practice, if you wanna come down the left and drop into the SW, it's go through INO or go home. You can try to get around via GRAVEN, but that's a narrow aperture as well. Even coming up via V-NECKS really just takes you back to GRAVEN again. What I'm saying is that it was a funhouse of a puzzle, and I got all confused and twisted around. The experience was not entirely unpleasant.
Some of the theme answers did, in fact, amuse me (HAULIN' OATS, for instance), and it's at least somewhat impressive that the Down theme answers run through one and sometimes two other theme answers. Yes, the preponderance of short answers in a big puzzle meant that there was some yuck along the way. I did not stand and applaud for: INO CIARA AGGRESS ELMST ELIE ELS KAN IDE EEO and some other things. But stuff like VERTICALS and MAN PURSE and SNAPCHAT and MORAY EEL kept me very much entertained. ROBOTRY! So proper. That's what Jeeves, my butler, calls it. I'm a rube who says "robotics."
My post-vacation cold means I'm even more behind on puzzle-solving than ever, so it'll be another week, at least, before I discuss the Great Puzzles out there in the rest of puzzle world. I'm all hopped up on the start of the Premier League season today, so I'm gonna go watch highlights and drink some tea and see you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld