Trevor of NBA / WED 2-25-15 / Part of rico roja / Paavo Flying Finn of 1920s Olympics / Final stanza in poem / Mythical bird with enormous wingspan
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Constructor: Michael Shteyman
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Some Midwest capitals
- DES MOINES, IOWA (15D: Midwest capital #4)
- LANSING, MICHIGAN (22A: Midwest capital #1)
- LINCOLN, NEBRASKA (37A: Midwest capital #2)
- ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA (46A: Midwest capital #3)
Trevor Anthony Ariza (born June 30, 1985) is an American professional basketball player who currently plays for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
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ROLLED R), which I got immediately and thought was pretty original. I liked it even more after the weird trivia clue on ONE-EARED (14A: Like the praying mantis, anatomically [weird, but true]). I liked it even after figuring out that "oh, there's not really a theme, it really is just a bunch of Midwest capitals …" Despite ITTO and -EAL and the whole blah NE. Despite ADD IN instead of ADD ON (23D: Computer extra). I just really liked the NW and SE corners, and I finished in the oddly delightful SW corner, where, perhaps because the grid was not already loaded with names, I was charmed to find Trevor ARIZA hanging out with the PAGAN and the NUTMEG. The NBA is rife with crossworthy names. Surprised we don't see AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE (15!) more—his first name, anyway. He's a six-time All-Star. Anyway, hey there, Trevor ARIZA. I like you at least as well as the Hyundai AZERA. You're welcome.
I feel like my reaction today is slightly upside-down. I don't tend to like constructor-centric puzzles, where the trick is some structural discovery (here, that there are this many Midwest capitals that are also 15s (!) and that can be arranged in this pattern that is multiply symmetrical (rotational, axial … are there others? arborEAL? orthogonal? petrochemical?). I like themes that focus on solver delight, not feats of construction for their own sake. But this one has the virtue of simplicity, i.e. the constructor's formal gimmick was not annoying or forced or opaque. And the fill surrounding it was frequently interesting or interestingly clued. Plus … I just love the midwest. It's adorable. I mean that sincerely, not patronizingly. I probably would've mean it patronizingly as a kid, but then I lived there for eight years. It always felt friendly and … substantial … to me. Warm. I mean, cold, but warm. I loved California, but what I remember most is sun and freeway. Maybe if I'd lived coastal, like my parents do now. Anyway, I remember some of my coastal peers in arborEAL Ann Arbor actively not enjoying the Midwestern lifestyle, but it was all right by me. From day one. "Hey, the shopkeeps are talking to me. And they're friendly … all right, Midwest, I'm not eating your weird jello-mold concoctions, but you got me. I like it here." Which is exactly how I felt about this puzzle.