Tamiroff of Anastasia / WED 5-27-15 / Jazz players are incapable / Transport in Ellington tune / Singer Perry opted out / Drying-out woe for short / Female producer of lanolin / Ipana competitor / Often-punted comics character
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Constructor: Jim Quinlan
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Contraction/negation — Ordinary words / phrases the end with letter strings that sound like ordinary verbs (e.g. CAN, DID, etc.) have a negative contraction (e.g. "N'T") added to the end and are reclued in a fittingly wacky way:
- ANI MUSTN'T (18A: Singer DiFranco should heed a warning) (no "?" on these clues?)
- CATS CAN'T (23A: Jazz players are incapable)
- BUSH WASN'T (35A: W. never existed)
- MATH ISN'T (49A: Calculus disappears)
- KATY DIDN'T (55A: Singer Perry opted out)
• • •
ANI MUSTN'T takes the theme off the rails a bit, as ANIMUS requires the addition of T + N'T to get to wackiness. That is, ANIMUS doesn't end in "MUST," while CAT SCAN *does* end in CAN, MATHIS *does* end in IS, etc. There's the appearance of a verb at the end of all the other theme answers. Further, BUSHWAS—in the plural—is exceedingly rare. It's just not word you'd ever see pluralized. If you google it in quotation marks, you get words lists, and only 7000 or so hit total. FATWAS works better, though it would be pretty hard to clue FAT WASN'T in a plausible way (though it couldn't be much less plausible than the clue for MATH ISN'T). My point is that this puzzle's wacky ambition is adorable, but the assembled themers are not all ready for prime time. Still, I'll take the creative concept that doesn't *quite* come off over a tired concept with all its papers in order.
There are come cool juxtapositions in this grid. I like that the A-TRAIN has pulled up to the STAtion, and that VAN GOGH sits ambivalently between highbrow museum ART and lowbrow museum gift-shop TOTE BAG. I still can't bring myself to accept that a SKIBOB is a thing. I've tried. It's not taking. I had no idea who that AKIM guy was. I had him as an ARAM (8D: Tamiroff of "Anastasia"). My QUITS started out as RESTS. Beyond that, I had zero trouble with this puzzle, which was both smooth and easy. I see that there are some stray not-great answers (CDL, OLA, ITE, AKIM), but they really don't get in the way of puzzle pleasure. If suboptimal stuff is fairly rare and easily dealt with, then I don't care. So this week has started with three puzzles in a row where the fill has been acceptable or better. I have this weird feeling of optimism. I'm sure it's unfounded, but I'm going to enjoy it while it's here.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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