Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Constructor: David Phillips
Relative difficulty: just enough resistance encountered for a Tuesday
THEME: "It's in the bag" -- things that go in bags.
Word of the Day: UNAGI (5D: Eel at a sushi bar) —
Unagi (うなぎ) is the Japanese word for freshwater eel, especially the Japanese eel, Anguilla japonica (nihon unagi 日本鰻 ). Unagi is a common ingredient in Japanese cooking. It is not to be confused with saltwater eel, which is known as anago in Japanese.--Wikipedia
• • •Not much zip to this theme idea: phrases beginning with things that have a kind of bag named for them:
- BOOK EM, DANNO (16A: *"Hawaii Five-O" catchphrase)
- TEA PARTIER (22A: *Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck, e.g.)
- ICE ROAD TRUCKERS (35A: *History channel show frequently set in Canada or Alaska)
- SANDCASTLE (45A: *Structure built from the ground up?)
- IT'S IN THE BAG (56A: "We have this won" ... or what could be said about each of the first words of the answers to the starred clues)
Big tradeoff in the fill: five theme entries and just 72 overall entries in the grid, so, as with yesterday's puzzle we have a mixed -- well, a mixed bag. On the plus side: BURMA, AENEAS, OSTRICHES, AUDACITY, DR. RUTH, AMERICAN (clued to the cheese, nice), ACAI BERRY, DECOUPAGE, REPHRASE and TMZ. I wanted to like JAMES KIRK but with the T. middle initial it Googles 9x better than without. An iconic middle initial like that really wants to be included.
But then...really too much dreck for a Tuesday: SPOSA at 3D was an eyebrow raiser early in the week. How'm I sposa know that? And there followed a bagful of SAO, orgs. NEA and NRC, the also Italian ORA (which should have been made ERA), foreign plurals ETAS and NEINS, ugly plurals ASSNS and SESS, OOX -- clued incorrectly as (Losing tic-tac-toe row); could be a tie, doesn't have to be a loss -- plus RET, TESSA, OJO and LIS. Makes me want to shout ARG!
Five theme entries are a lot, so the constructor should probably have gone with a less ambitious grid (76 or 78 words) and gotten a cleaner fill. You're already doing well with five theme entries, so unless you can completely kill it, usually better to play it a little more conservatively when filling the grid.
- GEOFFREY (20A: Rush experienced during a movie?) -- Excellent use of a "masked capital letter" to hide the fact that "Rush" is a person. Did it fool you?
- AARP (63A: Part of AARP: Abbr.) — AARP doesn't stand for anything anymore, so technically this isn't right. I'm only pointing this out so Rex's commenters know I saw it.
- Nice mix of classical and contemporary knowledge in this one: AENEAS and TMZ, BACH and Wayne MANOR, The SIOUX and MTV.
And, check this out: blogmaster Rex totally got dissed by a couple of screenwriters on their podcast. The one guy calls him "not cool at all" (which is partially untrue) but then he walks it back and admits he digs Rex's crankiness. Punks! I dare you to say that to his face. Scroll down to the bottom or search the page for "Rex."
Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent of CrossWorld for four more days