Judge John who was Time's 1973 Man of Year / THU 6-4-15 / 1998 Sarah McLachlan hit / Girlfriend group 2002 / Many early internet adopter / Schoolmaster in Washington Irving tale / Mythical huntress / Morris signature on Declaration of Independence / Singer with 1994 double-platinum album Under Pink
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Constructor: Joe Krozel
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: CAVERN — Note: "This puzzle seemingly as more than one solution … but only one is 'correct.'"
- CAVERN (1A: Location containing 10-Downs and 25-Downs)
- STALACTITE (10D: 1-Across sight)
- STALAGMITE (25D: 1-Across sight)
The gimmick: the crosses for the "C" and "T" in STALACTITE seem correct if you write in STALAGMITE, and vice versa with the "G" and "M" in STALAGMITE. Thus
- 28A: *Features of some front teeth = CAPS (but GAPS works)
- 34A: *Work hard = TOIL (but MOIL works)
- 44A: *Undermine, as a government program = GUT (but CUT works)
- 48A: *Plural suffix with organ = ISMS (but ISTS works)
John Joseph Sirica (March 19, 1904 – August 14, 1992) was the Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, where he became famous for his role in the Watergate scandal. He rose to national prominence during the Watergate scandal when he ordered President Richard Nixon to turn over his recordings of White House conversations.Sirica's involvement in the case began when he presided over the trial of the Watergate burglars. He did not believe the claim that they had acted alone, and persuaded or coerced most of them to implicate the men who had arranged the break-in (G. Gordon Liddyremained silent). For his role in Watergate the judge was named TIME magazine's Man of the Year in 1973. (wikipedia)
• • •
STALACTITE and STALAGMITE in their correct places. Once I had STALA- at 10D: 1-Across site, I knew the answer was STALACTITE. Everyone knows that STALACTITEs stick "tight" to the roof of caverns, while STALAGMITEs rise up from the ground. So I wrote in STALACTITE and STALAGMITE in their visually appropriate places, bam bam, one two, the -TITE up top, the -MITE down below, without ever, for one second, considering that they could've been switched. Why would they be switched? Who would make a puzzle with a STALAGMITE up top—not plausible. Sooooo…. yeah, then I finished and wondered what the big deal was. Only then did I read the "Note" and see that, in theory, you could've swapped the -TITE and the -MITE and had the crosses work. The note starts, "This puzzle seemingly has more than one solution," but it never "seemed" that way to me at all. The Note is the only thing that called my attention to it. I think reading the Note ahead of time would've confused me. Again, I think this concept is interesting, but the puzzle just didn't play right. The gimmick is a post-solve curiosity, not a mid-solve challenge.
Also, the either/or concept here (where either of two different letters "works" in both the Across and Down) is not new, or, in this case, very taxing. The effected words are these weak little things, and there are just four of them. Who would guess MOIL over TOIL? Also, the "choice" between "-ISTS" and "-ISMS" is a profoundly ugly and largely meaningless one. I generally love puzzles that can pull the either/or thing off—the most famous example of the type is, of course, the rightly legendary BOBDOLE / CLINTON crossword of Election Day, 1996. But this one just didn't bring much new or delightful to the gimmick.
At 1-Across, I had -AVERN / -AMP and not idea what could go there; or, rather, I couldn't conceive of anything but "T" going there, but TAMP made no sense as clued (1D: Overly theatrical, maybe). The fill has some pretty terrible moments, most notably ADELES, some crossing Roman numerals (MCCI vs. ACTIII!?), DOSO, ENOL, both TSE and TSETSE (!!??), NEY, ROBT, AOLER (dear lord, still!?), and then a bunch of mediocre stuff. But several of the longer Acrosses were nice, if you can call DIRT STAINS nice. Can't believe COMEDY TEAM wasn't clued via Stiller & Meara. Really, really can't believe it, considering her recent death, and her crossword-common name, and her having been a crossword aficionado in real life. Missed opportunity.
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