Swimmer Matt who won eight olympic gold medals / THU 3-26-15 / 1971 rock classic inspired by 12th-century Persian poem / Ziff Simpsons character voiced by Jon Lovitz / Haaretz readers / Early Pierre Cardin employer / Draco Malfoy's housemates
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Constructor: Byron Walden
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: RINSE CYCLE (57A: Part of washing … or what's exhibited by the circled letters from top to bottom) — letters in "RINSE" "cycle" (perfectly) through all their sequential permutations (i.e. ERINS, then move "S" to the beginning and you get SERIN, then move "N" to the beginning and you get NSERI, etc., until you get RINSE at the bottom)
- SLYTHERINS (19A: Draco Malfoy's housemates in the Harry Potter books)
- NOSE RINGS (27A: Some punk accessories)
- INTENSE RIVALS (36A: Red Sox and Yankees, e.g.)
- SPIN SERVE (43A: Tricky way to put a ball in play)
- RINSE CYCLE
Haaretz (Hebrew: הארץ) (lit. "The Land [of Israel]", originally Ḥadashot Ha'aretz – Hebrew: חדשות הארץ, IPA: [χadaˈʃot haˈʔaʁets] – "News [of] the Land [of Israel]") is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International New York Times. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet. In North America, it comes out as a weekly newspaper, combining articles from the Friday edition with a roundup from the rest of the week. An independent newspaper of record, some commentators state that it plays the role in Israel that The New York Times plays in the United States. It is known for its staunch left-liberal stance on domestic and foreign issues. (wikipedia)
• • •SLYTHERINS is of course a welcome answer, the fill in general seemed decidedly sub-Walden. I don't think I even believe that INTENSE RIVALS is a thing. Like, a stand-alone thing. So while the puzzle didn't seem terrible, it also didn't excite me, at all. Then two things happened. First, I realized that the theme wasn't just "mix up the letters in RINSE"—it was all those letters *cycling*, in order, through their various permutations, and, also, doing so in a way where all permutations are perfectly aligned, one above the next, resulting in a perfect column of circled in answers in the middle of the grid. Those two things demonstrate a high level of craftsmanship, and gave me a somewhat elevated appreciation for the puzzle as a whole. But then … then my feelings went from tepid admiration to something much more positive and much more intense … after I entered … the SW corner!
For the fantastic / alarming visual alone, I'm going to give that SW corner the "Best SW Corner Of All Time" award. If you weren't imagining a MALE (NUDE) engaged in PHONE SEX while wearing a SANTA HAT, well… you are now, and you're welcome. The only thing I'd change about that corner is the "G" in GIMPS. I get that it's supposed to add (I think) to the overall mildly perverted feel of that corner (insofar as "GIMPS" reminds me of "The Gimp" from "Pulp Fiction"), but it's a borderline offensive word (making it a verb doesn't really change that). I'd actually prefer PIMPS there, though I somehow doubt that would fly in the NYT. LIMPS or SIMPS works too. But this is hardly that important. What's important is MALE NUDE PHONE SEX SANTA HAT. *That* is a jolly good time. It's like the rest of the puzzle barely exists...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld