Goo goo eyed old style / TUE 8-11-15 / Ones steeped in tradition in England / Biblical kingdom its Utah namesake / Messy sandwich filler / Sweatship regulator / Nattering sort in Spiro Agnew speech / Classic beer once brewed in Detroit
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Constructor: Jay Kaskel and Daniel Kantor
Relative difficulty: Dunno. I had to stop several times to let the rage subside.
THEME: PULLED PORK (59A: Messy sandwich filler ... or a hint to this puzzle's circled letters) — the letters P and O and R and K appear in order, but separated from one another, in four theme answers that start with P and end with K:
- PHONE PRANK (17A: Frequent Bart Simpson antic)
- PUSH YOUR LUCK (23A: Ask the boss for more vacation time after getting a raise, perhaps)
- PIN ONE'S EARS BACK (34A: Scold a person)
- PLYMOUTH ROCK (50A: Landmark with the year 1620 inscribed on it)
Minot (i// MY-not) is a city located in north central North Dakota, United States. It is most widely known for the Air Force base located approximately 15 miles (24 km) north of the city. With a population of 40,888 at the 2010 census, Minot is the fourth largest city in the state. In 2012, the Minot Area Development Corporation estimated that there were between 46,000 and 47,000 permanent residents within city limits. The city is the county seat of Ward County and is a trading center for a large portion of northern North Dakota, southwestern Manitoba, and southeastern Saskatchewan. Founded in 1886 during the construction of the Great Northern Railway, Minot is also known as "Magic City", commemorating its remarkable growth in size over a short time. // Minot is the principal city of the Minot Micropolitan Statistical Area, a micropolitan area that covers McHenry, Renville, and Ward counties and had a combined population of 69,540 at the 2010 census. In 2012, it was estimated that the population of the Minot Micropolitan Area was 73,146 (wikipedia)
• • •
OLEO kind of Promise, but promise nonetheless). It's based on a common constructing gimmick: take a common/familiar phrase and literalize it in some way. Here, PORK is being PULLED apart in the various answers. If ever there was a reason for non-consecutive circles in a puzzle (which I normally don't care for), this is it. But there's one big problem: I know the gimmick from the jump. Once you get PHONE PRANK, all the circles and the revealer can be filled in immediately. So whatever cleverness is involved in the concept is offset by what happens at the actual solving level. Same letters are pulled over and over and over. Theme is way too transparent. But this is merely unfortunate. It saps the puzzle of its power to please and entertain, but it is not unprofessional.
["Hey guys, I'm looking for a Jacques Strap!"]
SMIT (6A: Goo-goo-eyed, old-style) and took a time out because I couldn't believe the "Best Puzzle in the World" couldn't be bothered to remove such an obvious, horrible, easily fixable stupid archaic ye olde wart of an answer. We get NABOB for the Second Day In A Row, which says Everything about what's wrong here, and in general. Everything is so OLD HAT, so out-of-a-dusty-drawer or mothbally closet. I can't believe anyone put any care at all into making the grid, cluing the grid, editing the grid ... puzzles, even very easy puzzles, can be So much better than this. There's really no excuse for OHTO or SMIT or even (in the case of an easily fillable 78-worder like this) SKEE, MINOT, UELE, CEE, ECRU, ONEA, OLEO, LAPP, OSHA, MANO and probably many others. The grid is devoid of interesting or contemporary fill. The cluing is stale (with notable exception of [Ones steeped in tradition in England?] for TEAS, which is a winner). After the theme, the rest of the puzzle is just phoned in. A promising theme concept doesn't get the crafting and love it needs to become an overall Good 2015 puzzle, and so we get this—an echo of a memory of a puzzle from earlier times, decades ago, when fill standards were simply lower, when cluing was more straightforward and less artful. This is the kind of puzzle that gives crossword puzzles their reputation as a moribund pastime for the moribund.
The NYT is about to get serious, daily competition from two new outlets: the WSJ (which has published a Friday 21x21 for a long time) starts a daily 15x15 puzzle in the near future, as does BuzzFeed, which just posted specs and a sample puzzle yesterday. BuzzFeed is matching NYT's pay right off the bat, which is a great sign, as is the joyful enthusiasm of BuzzFeed's crossword editor, Caleb Madison. The BuzzFeed puzzle might end up playing a little poppy and youthful for some of you, but that's OK. Different kinds of solvers like different kinds of puzzles. What's not OK is slop. I have very high hopes for the future of crosswords in general. My hopes for the future of the NYT crossword in particular aren't as high. Great constructors will continue to submit, so the high points will still be high, but I have no reason to believe that the average quality level won't continue to slowly and quietly sink (or, perhaps, hover, while other outlets shine). Rigorous polishing and up-to-date, clever cluing don't appear to be a high priority at the NYT right now. Maybe the new competition will raise all boats. But I won't hold my breath.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. Here's Oliver Roeder's write-up of Lollapuzzoola 8 for the NYT. I'll have my own write-up soon enough.
P.P.S. A friend of mine just wrote me, re: PIN ONE'S EARS BACK: "Using "one's" this way means you're pinning your own ears back. Why would you be scolding yourself??? As if there isn't enough wrong with this puzzle ...."
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