Neighbor of Mozambican / FRI 8-14-15 / Randall recurring character in Stephen King novels / King of Israel who founded Samaria / Woe that's result of extreme materialism / Girl's name derived from name of ancient Anatolian kingdom
Friday, August 14, 2015
Constructor: Natan Last and the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: OMRI (18A: King of Israel who founded Samaria) —
Omri (Hebrew: עמרי, Modern Omri, Tiberian ʻOmrî) (fl. 9th century BC) was the sixth king of Israel after Jeroboam, a successful military campaigner, and the founder of the House of Omri, an Israelite royal house which included other monarchs such as Ahab, Ahaziah, Joram, and Athaliah. Along with his predecessor king Zimri who ruled for only seven days, Omri is the first king mentioned in the Bible without a statement of his tribal origin: although some scholars speculate that Omri was from the tribe of Issachar, this is not confirmed by any biblical account (wikipedia)
• • •
JASA Crossword Class crossword (co-constructed with the class's teacher—always a well-established constructor) seems to be an annual event. Or maybe biannual. Anyway, I've seen a number of these, and they're always at least Good. This is probably a function of a. *lots* of time and care and craft and oversight and wisdom and input, and b. the whole "well-established constructor" thing. Whatever the cause, these puzzles have always been pretty polished, and today's is no exception. They went with the max word count for a Friday (72), which is a very, very good place for novice themeless constructors to start (and while Natan is no novice, the class most certainly is). Higher word counts => easier-to-fill grids. This grid is distinguished for its near total lack of crud. Substandard stuff is minimal and spread out, so that the longer, fancier answers can shine through. Cheater squares probably helped here as well. These are black squares that don't increase the word count but make the grid easier to fill (today, there are four: left of 21A/right of 48A, left of 10A/right of 64A). Only wonks like me are gonna notice cheaters, and today they are understandable (since they are helping keep the fill clean around longer, marquee answers, which are the core of the puzzle's entertainment value).
I thought I was going to break my Friday time record there for a bit when I threw down AFFLUENZA instantly (1A: Woe that's the result of extreme materialism), and proceeded to get most of the crosses in quick succession. But then I moved over to the NE and came to a dead stop—a series of knowledge gaps and mistakes and misunderstandings took me completely off the rails. Main problem was a total failure to parse OMA- at the beginning of 19A: Hearst publication since 2000 (O MAGAZINE). I wanted it to be some newspaper set in OMAHA. The STAR, maybe? Beats me, but OMAHA was the only thing I could imagine starting OMA-. Sigh. Then there's my complete bafflement at SWAZI. Is that a resident of Swaziland? Not sure I could find Swaziland on a map, to be honest, and I've certainly never seen SWAZI before. It looks like an unfortunate mash-up of "swastika" and "Nazi." It's a legit answer, but I needed every cross to get it. I also put in RATSO instead of RIZZO, PAIN instead of PINE, and ISN'T instead of ISSO. So my sad grid looked like this:
Grid is full of solid and occasionally zippy answers. Nice slangy colloquial stuff with AFFLUENZA, "I'M ON TO YOU," SNOCKERED, "SEE YA SOON," and TAKE A BATH. There were a couple of wonderful clues, too: 52A: What might make you a big fan? for JUMBOTRON, and 52D: Ring exchange for JABS. Here's PuzzleGirl's pic of the JUMBOTRON at Yankee Stadium (taken during Sunday's Blue Jays/Yankees game):
[She labeled this one "Hyphen abuse"...]
And here's a nice picture she took of today's co-constructor, Natan Last (left), at Lollapuzzoola 8 this past Saturday:
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]