PBS station behind Live from Lincoln Center / TUE 11-18-14 / Muse sometimes pictured with book or scroll / Voice in role of Mefistofele e.g. / Tina Fey display / Waldorf salad morsel
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Constructor: Jacob McDermott
Relative difficulty: Medium
- SUPERSTAR (17A: Luminary among luminaries)
- FULL STEAM (30A: Flat out)
- HIGH HORSE (44A: Snooty attitude)
- MUSCLEMAN (61A: Bodybuilder, for one)
Kigali, with population of almost 1 million (2009), is the capital and largest city of Rwanda. It is situated near the geographic centre of the nation. The city has been the economic, cultural, and transport hub of Rwanda since it became capital at independence in 1962. The main residence and offices of the President of Rwanda are located in the city, as are the government ministries. The city is coterminous with the province of Kigali City, which was enlarged in January 2006, as part of local government reorganisation in the country. The city's urban area covers about 70% of the municipal boundaries. (wikipedia)
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First, Jay-Z is hyphenated, so get that straight. (BREAKING: for first time ever, I am wrong)
Second, these powers don't all wash. FULL is about as valid as LOW, in that it is simply a degree of power, not a different power type. And HIGH … I'm still working that out. Is that like "full," in that it is a degree? Because other options are divine (which would be "higher power") or adjectival (which would be "high-powered"). I'm not really sure what "muscle power" is either. I mean, I know what it is, but it's not a phrase I hear. Where's FIRE? BRAIN? I get that "FIRE BRAIN" is not a thing, but in a puzzle like this, all your FIREs need to be in a row. Tight, exact, buyable. These weren't.
KIGALI is a major outlier, fame-wise. It's a world capital, so it's a valid NYT crossword answer, but it's weird on a Tuesday (note: it hasn't been in *any* NYT puzzle in over nine years). If I had to name 100 world capitals, first, I don't know that I could, and second, I wouldn't name KIGALI. I feel like I'm learning of its existence today. I'm happy to know it, but all you have to do is look at the fill in that corner (the terrible, terrible fill in that corner … EPIS!?) to know that the corner could've been much more carefully constructed, much more polished. Either the constructor *really* wanted KIGALI (doubtful), in which case it wasn't worth it, given the fill results; or else KIGALI's just another "good enough" thing that fit, and no one spent any time thinking about it at all. The latter seems much more plausible.
Fill is weak overall. It just is. It's terrible only in the SE, but it's pretty anemic all over. This is the new NYT norm. It just is. But I can tell you now that I'm not going to get used to it. I have to keep saying that it's happening. I know it's tedious to hear, but it's even more tedious to solve. Let's just look at UNCAS. That belongs in no puzzle. Maybe if you've got a tough themeless you're trying to get to work out, OK. But here, on a Tuesday, no. And yet the constructor has virtually no other options, given how he's laid out the grid. U-C-S is set in stone. UNCAS would've been the first non-theme answer he settled on. Switching the 2nd and 4th theme answers would've left you with I-C-A, which is an even more implausible combination to work out. But this is where, as a constructor, you're supposed to redesign the grid, find new theme answers … something. Not just plow ahead because UNCAS is a thing. The whole thing reeks of "good enough." Only it's not. I don't mean to HECKLE. This is not SNARK. This is just a straightforward description of business as usual these days.