88 98 of autodom / TUE 6-9-15 / Marsupial that looks like small bear / Much-discussed program of 1960s-70s / Eponymous chair designer
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Constructor: Roy Leban
Relative difficulty: Tuesdayish
THEME: Triple Crown winners — theme answers are just years in brackets. Answers are the horses that won the Triple Crown that year. [Note on puzzle reads: "The five Across answers with only years for clues are the five most recent members of a particular category."]
- CITATION 
- SEATTLE SLEW 
- AMERICAN PHAROAH 
- SECRETARIAT 
- AFFIRMED 
• • •
AMERICAN PHAROAH is a 15, and so you quickly build a grid (with essentially found, prefab theme answers, this is not hard), and … wait with your fingers crossed for the results of the Belmont? The symmetricality is indeed fortuitous, but the puzzle itself is totally unimaginative, and poorly filled to boot. For a puzzle that had to be made ahead of time, you'd think it would be much more clever, or at least more polished. This is basically a game of "hey, remember that horse?" posing as some kind of "Mission: Impossible"-style, "how'd-they-turn-that-around-so-quickly!?" ultra-current piece of constructor/editorial wizardry. Independent outfits manage to be at least this topical and nimble, while also being clever and polished and entertaining, on a very regular basis. Not sure why the NYT "tributes" always seems like just sad lists—symmetrical arrangements of stuff in a grid because stuff fits symmetrically in a grid.
- 19D: "Isn't she cute?!" ("AWW") — I had "AAW." Exciting, I know.
- 30D: Onetime Mideast grp. (UAR) — crossing USSR! How … something. HISTorical, maybe.
- 1A: Marsupial that looks like a small bear (WOMBAT) — easily my favorite thing in the grid. I hereby offer to the constructing world the potential theme answer "Mortal WOMBAT." I don't know the theme exactly … puns on video games … or Australian fauna … or a K/W swap dealie … be creative!
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