Broccoli-like vegetable / SUN 10-12-14 / French port just up coast from Boulogne / First steamship with planned circumnavigation of globe / Locale that Hillary made famous / Two-time role for Chris Hemsworth /
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Constructor: Pawel Fludzinski
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Inner Workings" — phrases that have follow pattern "___ in ___" are represented literally in the grid:
- COAL CANARY MINE (23A: Leading indicator?)
- ROUND SQUARE PEG HOLE (31A: Misfit)
- CANDY KID STORE (49A: One who's enthralled, metaphorically)
- MILLION NOT YEARS (66A: Never)
- TEA TEMPEST POT (84A: Much ado about nothing)
- HAND GO TO HELL BASKET (97A: Deteriorate rapidly)
- HAY NEEDLE STACK (112A: It's hard to find)
Argo was an iron screw steamer launched in 1853. She was the first steamship to intentionally circumnavigate the earth. (wikipedia)
• • •this (NYT) puzzle, from 2011. Today's puzzle even has three of the same theme answers as the 2011 puzzle. This puzzle should never have been accepted, for this reason as well as several others—most notably that the 2011 version wasn't the first time this puzzle had been done, either (earliest example I could find was from the L.A. Times in 2003, which a basic cruciverb.com database check of theme answers would've turned up). Also, once you get the theme, the whole solving experience becomes a bit of a snore, especially in a puzzle this big (the 2011 and 2003 versions were 15x15s, by comparison). It's unoriginal. It's a bit boring. The fill is average—not terrible, not noteworthy. Even the title is dull. The puzzle's failure really isn't the constructor's fault—he should've been told, "No thanks, I've already run a puzzle like this recently." But clearly that didn't happen. No one but no one should be shocked by this.
I think this will be one of those puzzles that people like insofar as they were able to do it, where normally they cannot. Perhaps someone finished a Sunday puzzle for the first time today. If this is the case for you, you should certainly congratulate yourself. It is a big deal, no matter the quality of the puzzle. I certainly couldn't tell you whether the first Sunday puzzle I solved was "good" or not. But I damn sure remember finishing (when, where, who with, etc.). So take whatever pleasure you can from this and pray for / hope for better Sundays to come. It's possible.
I was fooled a couple of times today, most notably by the "Hillary" part of 45A: Locale that made Hillary famous (MT. EVEREST). I thought the clue was referring to our next president. I think that's what the clue wanted me to think. In that, at any rate, this puzzle was successful. I enjoyed remembering TIM Howard's performance in the World Cup this summer, and I enjoyed seeing RAPINI, as well as FAT CHANCE and TRIFECTA. That is the full extent of my enjoyment today.
Does the NRA endorse guns? Are they anti-NERF? I'm not sure what kind of joke that clue was going for. I'm also not sure how [24/7] = ANY TIME. "Come up and see me 24/7!" is not a phrase I can imagine someone's saying. "We're open 24/7" = "We're open *all the time*," not "... ANY TIME." But I'll stop the critique there, as this puzzle, as I've said, is D.O.A. and a critique is not really worthwhile. As I tell my writing students, "If you don't put any effort into writing your paper, I'm certainly not going to put any into grading it." Here's hoping we get something better than lukewarm leftovers next week.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld