Miler Sebastian / WED 4-8-15 / Coiner of term doublethink / Frozen Wasser / Dweller along Mekong / Royal bride of 1981 / Some British jackets / Sound of air kiss / Mollusk on la carte
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel
Relative difficulty: Medium
- ATRA PLUS (crossing BEAR)
- ORCHESTRA PIT (crossing TOURIST)
- BEST RAP ALBUM (crossing RAT)
Tele-Communications, Inc. or TCI was a cable television provider in the United States, for much of its history controlled by Bob Magness and John Malone.The company came into being in 1968, following the merger of Western Microwave, Inc. and Community Television, Inc. It was the largest cable operator in the United States at one time.After going public in 1970, the company grew rapidly, and became the top cable provider in the United States. After a failed merger attempt with Bell Atlantic in 1994, it was purchased in 1999 by AT&T, whose cable television assets were later acquired by Charter Communications and then Comcast Corporation. (wikipedia)
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TCI. Wikipedia says "It was the largest cable operator in the United States at one time," but those three letters mean nothing to me in that order. I had cable in CA. I had cable in MI. It never came from TCI. I have never heard of TCI (actually, I've probably said these very words before, and will likely say them again, since constructors tend to think that if something's been used in the past it's OK to use it now, 16-years-defunct or no). So I had MCI at 55A: Cable co. acquired by AT&T in 1999, even though I know they were telecom, not cable. MCI simply had the virtue of being massively familiar. And RAM was a word—just not the word the clue wanted (RAT). Really puts a damper on joy when you a. make an error, and b. have never heard of the right answer. But the more I examined the theme (I honestly never saw the revealer clue while solving), the more I appreciated its complexity.
It's perhaps a bit too complex. That is, it's trying to do a lot, and there's a bit of absurdity involved. Is a rat really going to listen to the "warning" "IT'S A TRAP!" A BEAR? The TOURIST, sure, she'll listen. But the conceit of "shout a warning in English at an animal that is not your dog" seems … mildly strained. Also, the revealer is a "warning," but the animals and tourist are (already?) "trapped," i.e. crossing the letters "TRAP." So your "warning" is useless. Never had a chance. What is a BEAR trap? Sounds horrific. Is it that spring-loaded maiming metal claw thing? Yeah, horrific. But there's a real attempt at craftsmanship here that I admire. Fill is subpar in far too many places, but it's a pretty complex theme, with a decent amount of wide open space to fill, so perhaps the list of junk (TCI, USRDA, ITAL ARR, ACS, EIS *and* EIN, SSR, OLD LATIN, and MAWR) is not long enough to warrant much censure given the theme demands. Nice stretching of TRAP across two words each time. I'm also a big fan of the juxtaposition of MWAH and PENELOPE, for entirely personal reasons.