Monday, August 10, 2015
Constructor: C.W. Stewart
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "SAY CHEESE!" (58A: "Smile!" ... or a hint to the ends of the answers to the five starred clues) — last words of theme answers are denominations of cheese
- 17A: *Club used in a bunker (SAND WEDGE)
- 32A: *1980s hand-held puzzle craze (RUBIK'S CUBE)
- 41A: *Many a countertop) (MARBLE SLAB)
- 3D: *Inability to recall something (MENTAL BLOCK)
- 26D: *Riverboat propeller (PADDLE WHEEL)
nounnoun: alb; plural noun: albs
- a white vestment worn by clergy and servers in some Christian Churches. (google)
• • •FACES (which we had, predictably, as SIDES) (55A: What 32-Across has six of). I don't think I would've opted for the cross-reference there. But nevermind that. I predicted what the revealer of this puzzle would be after just two theme answers were completed. We were none of us sure that a SLAB was a valid unit of cheese, but then Brad remembered the lyrics of this song, which validated SLAB (as well as "hunk," "slice," and "chunk," none of which appear in this puzzle).
[What is Timer? He's like this mincing ... cheese ... thing ... in the wild west???]
[Doug and Brad and I can sing this jingle verbatim]
So one good thing we have to say about this puzzle is the theme density is pretty impressive, and running two valid theme answers Down through two others is no mean feat. Doug just asked me if we're calling C.W. Stewart (the constructor) "C-Dubs." I said sure, why not. C-Dubs it is. Anyway, C-Dubs really themes it up. There's some cool little colloquial phrases here and there, but most of the fill is quite ordinary and (more distressingly) clued in a painfully straightforward way. It's possible to write easy clues that also have a certain degree of freshness. These clues don't. Mostly. Having spent the weekend with exquisite puzzles of all difficulty levels, I'm a little spoiled. But still, it's an important point—there's no reason a Monday-easy puzzle can't have interesting, clever, vibrant, or otherwise unstale clues. Our favorite clue was probably 16A: Like some screws and translations (LOOSE) (Brad especially likes this clue best because he was the first / only person to get it). Also, there's nothing in this puzzle you couldn't have seen in a puzzle 30 years ago. The Alan ALDA clue is the only thing that places this puzzle in the 21st century.
Brad says that the only Oscar nomination received by Alan ALDA was for "The Aviator," so there's some trivia for you. Brad also gave side-eye to the BEEB clue (31D: British network, with "the") that made no mention of "familiarly" or "slang" or anything like that. There's not much else to say here. It took everyone a while to guess what the first part of the "WHEEL" answer was because they all wanted FERRIS (keep in mind they couldn't see the grid when I was asking what they thought it was). Doug is now trying to convince us that he would call cheese cubes "cheese dice." I'm not sure where to go from there. So good night.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. here's a nice little write-up of this past Saturday's Lollapuzzoola crossword tournament by Oliver Roeder, a writer for FiveThirtyEight.com.
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