Caribbean capital, to locals / FRI 1-31-14 / Tribe of Chief Shaumonekusse / Source of the word "admiral"
Friday, January 31, 2014
Constructor: Chris McGlothlin
Relative difficulty: Medium-difficult
Word of the Day: HUTUS [Many Rwandans]
The Hutu //, also known as the Abahutu, is an ethnic group in Central Africa. They mainly live in Rwanda, Burundi, and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo where they form one of the principal population divisions alongside the Tutsi and the Twa.
In a freestyle (a.k.a. a "themless" but freestyle sounds cooler) with six grid-spanning entries the first thing I notice is the quality of those entries. Let's look:
1-a [ "No more wasting time!"] = LET'S DO THIS THING. Excellent.
16-a [Pixar, e.g.] = ANIMATION STUDIO. Very good.
17-a [Was just getting started] = HAD A LONG WAY TO GO. Very good.
56-a [Numbats] = BANDED ANTEATERS. If you say so.
59-a [Washington report starter] = I CANNOT TELL A LIE. Very good.
60-a [Charm] = CAST ONE'S SPELL ON. These "one's" idioms are ubiquitous in triple and quad-stacks. I don't have time to do it now but I'd wager that if you looked at all the trips and quads ever printed in the NYT close to 50% of them would have one of these ONE'S in the mix. They're an object of some ridicule among constructors since they often require stilted language to use outside of a dictionary listing, such as A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE or ANTS IN ONE'S PANTS. ("Having ants in one's pants is a most dreadful situation in which to find oneself.") They're culled from databases as a general rule; for example, of the 8 (!) Google hits received by "casts one's spell on," zero are from use in natural language (the others are translations to foreign languages and other database listings). So this one we'll call "pretty bad." But 4.5 out of 6 is pretty good for double trips.
Lively 8's going gown, too: LA HABANA (a.k.a. Havana, Cuba), TIDIES UP, TACO BELL, I GO TO RIO and IN WANT OF all stand out. In the seven range we have BAR EXAM, GET EVEN and SILENTS, and in the 6 range we get ARABIC, I DO NOT, and VOYAGE. That's a lot of good fill.
The usual rap against very wide-open grids is that you get a lot of lousy short fill. Let's list the, say, five worst pieces and see the damage: ANANAS [Pineapples: Sp.], SSA, OTO, LEU and BEEK. Not all that bad, but there are going to be a lot of solvers who don't know that "Havana" takes a B in Spanish and think that Van der Veek sounds like a plausible Dutch name.
Better than your usual double-triple.
Wednesday's puzzle had an almost-awesome theme: constructor Michael Black found Elgin Baylor concealing NBA and Woodrow Wilson concealing WWI, but spread the acronyms out among the names for the other two entries. Could Rexheads balance those with an 11 and 13 that kept their acronyms intact to maximize this lovely idea?
Our two winning entries are:
Rob. C for ZSA ZSA GABOR, clued as [Actress and an organization she belonged to]. Which is the SAG.
And..well, me for [Pitching great and his statistic] for MARIANO RIVERA. And his ERA.
|Career ERA: 2.21!|
So that would even up the two entries and keep all the trigrams intact. Though these aren't as good as the first two, since the ERA doesn't span both words and because, although Zsa Zsa was a member of SAG, she isn't especially strongly identified with it.
Since I didn't specify that they had to be 11 and 13, let's give the other prize out to the best entry of any length. That goes to Evan for longtime NFL player London Fletcher.
Rob C. and Evan, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can send you your loot.
Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent for three more days of CrossWorld