Villain in Indiana Jones Kingdom of Crystal Skull / THU 9-25-14 / Rapper who co-starred in 2002's half past dead / Russian composer Arensky / Literally northern capital / Series of watering troughs / Czech playwright who coined word robot
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Constructor: Alex Vratsanos
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: Ten 3-letter body parts — Puzzle note reads: "The human body is said to have 10 three-letter body parts. All 10 of these are hidden in side Across answers in this puzzle. Can you find them all? The body parts, from left to right, top to bottom: GUM, TOE, JAW, RIB, EAR, ARM, HIP, LIP, EYE, LEG."
Word of the Day: SPALKO (46D: Villain in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull") —
Colonel Doctor Irina Spalko was an agent of the KGB, as well as a scientist and military officer, working for the Soviet Union. She was a psychic, as well as a very skilled fencer and combatant. Spalko desired the use of the Crystal Skull of Akator to brainwash and manipulate the minds of American forces, giving the Soviets a tactical advantage in the Cold War. Her weapon of choice was a rapier. Spalko was an infamous leader, with a cruel disregard for innocent casualities and harboring a secret, selfish motivation. However, she did all this in the name of her country, and not out of pure maliciousness. As a soldier, she did only what was needed to complete the mission at hand. (Indiana Jones Wiki)
• • •
Let's be very clear about this. This puzzle (once completed) is a word find … with only three-letter words in it … where the answers all run Across … and we are told the order in which they appear. As I am not five years old, I have a very, very hard time seeing how this is interesting or compelling in any way, especially on a Thursday, *especially* in "the best puzzle in the world" (per the NYT's own promotional material). Even if the answers *and* their order hadn't been revealed right up front, this would've still been insultingly dull. It is a word search for morons, and the word search part is *completely and utterly* separate from the content of the grid. So you get this mediocre themeless puzzle, and then the world's simplest word find.
SLOES and OTOES and STETs and omg it just goes on and on. I will give this puzzle "PEACE OUT!" and that is all I will give it (4D: "Later, bro!"). It's a non-puzzle. Someone I know suggested to me just now that the childishly easy word find was a "sop" to the people who were so livid about Patrick Blindauer's "Change of Heart" puzzle two weeks ago. But I can't buy that. Just because you hated Ulysses doesn't mean you'll be appeased by Where's Waldo?.
I did find CUM and BOSOM and ANUS, though, so I'm managing to amuse myself at least. What else have we got?:
- 17A: Golden girl? (SACAJAWEA) — this was one of the highlights of the grid. I especially liked the clue (she appears on the golden $1 coin. I'm a bit concerned that some people will have messed up the JA RULE / CAPEK crossing. Maybe JORULE / COPEK? You don't see "R.U.R." in crosswords *nearly* as much as you used to, and thus aren't reminded nearly so much of CAPEK's name, so you'd be forgiven for forgetting (as I did). You'd also be forgiven for forgetting JA RULE, if you ever knew him in the first place. He hasn't been popular for a while. Oh, and since the U.S. Mint and all sites describing the dollar coin seem to think the "Golden girl" in question is spelled with a "G" and not a "J," you'd perhaps also be forgiven for having gone with GA RULE (or even GO RULE) as well.
- 27A: Series of watering troughs? (AEIOU) — well, if you have to have such a terrible answer in your grid, I guess the best thing you can do is give it a cool, weird-ass clue. (The letters AEIOU appear in order, and each just once, inside the phrase "watering troughs")
- 32D: Russian composer Arensky (ANTON) — never heard of him. Let's listen:
I look forward to the return of crosswords, and my enthusiasm for them, tomorrow. It's been a mostly enjoyable eight years. I think I got at least two left in me. Thanks for your readership.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld