Sonatas have four of them / FRI 8-15-14 / Seed in Mexican cuisine / Wuornos Monster role / Location of William Tell legend / Lover of Orion in Greek Myth / Suffix with opal
Friday, August 15, 2014
Constructor: Jeff Chen
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: PANAMA CANAL — circles spell this phrase out. Circles also (like the canal) connect the CARIBBEAN SEA (20A: One end of the [circled letters], which opened on 8/15/1914) and the PACIFIC OCEAN (50A: The other end of the [circled letters])
Word of the Day: BLEB (7D: Air bubble) —
• • •A nice visual representation of the thing it's supposed to represent, and published on the right day. So it was fitting, and well executed. But one big drawback: the theme was *super* easy to uncover, and once you grok it, you just fill in all the relevant squares and … done! Only not done, because there's a themeless puzzle kind of superimposed on top of the whole thing. So it's a bit Frankenstein's monstery (no, spellcheck, not "monastery"), only less scary. Theme part is elegant in conception, ho-hum to solve. Themeless part is slightly below average (probably because it's Not Actually Themeless, and thus compromises had to be made with the fill that never have to be made in themlesseses (even if they sometimes are)).
Love the clues on THE PILL (36D: Medical product with no conceivable use?) and CHESS (29A: What a check might be delivered in). I did not know HAJJI (40A: One with a once-in-a-lifetime experience?) could be spelled like that, but if HADJ can be HAJJ (which I have seen), then why not? Would've been nice if the fill weren't so rough around the edges (especially in that little northern patch, but in other peripheral places as well). But the theme gives it a nice visual element, and the tough cluing made it relatively fun to solve.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. A word about Lollapuzzoola, the greatest crossword tournament in the country, which took place just this past weekend. If, like me this year, you couldn't make it to NYC this year but really want to see what the LPZ puzzles are all about, good news: you can get them for yourself via the Play At Home option. And it's cheap! Here are all the deets, from tourney cohost Patrick Blindauer:
Hope you're all having a great summer! I just got back from NYC where I cohosted the xword tourney known as "Lollapuzzoola 7: It Ain't Over 'til It's Over." If you missed it, don't worry: the puzzles are still available at www.bemoresmarter.com (until August 16th), and you can still compete in the At-Home Division, if you like. For $10, you can get a PDF which includes instructions, the 6 tournament puzzles, a tiebreaker puzzle, and a 6-puzzle mini-extravaganza that I wrote especially for the occasion. The other constructors this year were Cathy Allis, Mike Nothnagel, Tony Orbach, Doug Peterson, Brian Cimmet, and Patrick Berry, so you know you're in for a real treat.
Visit www.bemoresmarter.com to order a copy for yourself and/or a friend, and hopefully we'll see you at Lollapuzzoola 8, which is already scheduled for 8/8 in NYC next year!