Western Afghan city / TUE 12-30-14 / Zairean president Mobutu Seko / Film producer Carlo / Toon Chihuahua / Green who was on four seasons of voice / Our planet to Germans / Victims of farmer's wife / Jersey shore housemate / Socialist disparagingly
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for a T)
THEME: LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP (41A: Maneuver for slot car racers or stunt pilots, as suggested by this puzzle's circled letters) — circled letters spell "LOOP," and "loop" (i.e. the letters rotate positions) two full times as you follow the circled square pattern around the grid...
Word of the Day: RED TOP (32D: Common grass variety named for its color) —
Agrostis gigantea, known by its common names Black Bent and Redtop, is a perennial grass of the Agrostis genus.It is native to Europe, but in the cooler areas of North America was widely used as a pasture grass until the 1940s. Although it has largely been replaced by soybeans and more palatable grasses, it still gets some use in poor soils. It was one of the grasses planted in areas disturbed by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. It generally does well in response to fires, due to survival of rhizomes and seeds.
It can be found in open woodland, rough grassland, hedgerows, roadsides and waste ground, and as a weed on arable land. (wikipedia)
• • •LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP) once you've completely circumnavigated the grid. That, I like. I like literally nothing else. Nope, wait: CANOODLE. CANOODLE, I like. But OMG the fill. Also, the phrase LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP is not a thing. LOOP DE LOOP, yes. Extra DE LOOP, wtf? You invented a phrase so that you could do your little loop acrobatics (you also expanded the grid to 16 wide, which is fine, actually). I winced when I filled in the revealer, but it's just this side of tolerable. What's intolerable, however, is the fill. Like, everywhere, it is very poor.
SHOT PAR is an ironic entry, in that this puzzle didn't. But also apt, in that it is a poor entry, and therefore nicely represents the overall quality of the grid. The short stuff is a train wreck. I'm not kidding you when I say that I was dubious about this thing before I'd even left the tiny NW corner. The APOLO went up and I kind of looked at the grid sideways. Then ERDE went in and I literally stopped and doubled over. And sighed. REDTOP? SOLI? ALLA? ALOES plural. Just on and on and on w/ the non-Tuesday, keep-it-to-a-minimum fill. SESE CEELO APOLO OCELO — all crutch names. The punchy line of it all was HERAT. Looks like this is my third time ever seeing this [Western Afghan city] (?), and unshockingly, both other times were On A Saturday. I'm floored that the constructor couldn't get HERAT out of there. Stunned. Any constructor worth his/her salt isn't going to let that **** stand. You could do a million things w/ that section and you go with HERAT? What's that holding up, exactly? ACELA (again, ugh)? The now-embarrassingly-dated SNOOKI? RECOPY? I guess you can write it all off to "theme density," but that's a cop-out. This is just poorly filled. If you can't execute the stunt to perfection, don't perform the stunt.